SC virtually paves way for govt formation in Arunachal Pradesh

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday virtually paved the way for government formation in Arunachal Pradesh by vacating its order on maintenance of status quo, after being satisfied with the Gauhati High Court order staying the disqualification of the 14 rebel Congress MLAs.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar, on perusing the records regarding disqualification of 14 rebel Congress MLAs, said it is prima facie satisfied with the High Court order.

"Prima facie we are not inclined to interfere with the High Court order, we are satisfied with it. Having seen the original records which are put before us by the Registrar General of Gauhati High Court, the order of January 7 calls for no interference at this stage. 

"Accordingly, the ad-interim order passed is vacated," the bench also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and N V Ramana said. 

The bench also transferred the case regarding disqualification of the 14 legislators from the single judge to the division bench of the high court and asked it to expeditiously decide the matter within two weeks.

e bench, however, made it clear that any further action taken will be subject to the outcome of the matter pending before it.

Hours after the Union Cabinet had yesterday decided to recommend revocation of President's Rule in Arunachal Pradesh, the apex court had ordered maintenance of status quo in the crisis-ridden state till it examined judicial and assembly records on disqualification of the 14 rebel Congress MLAs by former Speaker Nabam Rebia.

The interim order had came after senior lawyers F S Nariman and Kapil Sibal, appearing for Arunachal Congress leaders, had sought maintenance of status quo till their plea seeking to restrain Governor J P Rajkhowa from swearing in a new government in Arunachal Pradesh was decided.

The bench had directed the Secretary General of Arunachal Pradesh Assembly and the Gauhati High Court Registry to furnish records, pertaining to the proceedings conducted by Speaker Nabam Rebia under Xth Schedule of the Constitution pertaining to disqualification of the MLAs, by today. 

The bench, while noting that some part of the records was also in the safe custody of the Gauhati High Court, had directed the Registrar General of the High Court to ensure that the sealed record pertaining to the disqualification of the 14 MLAs, was produced in this court.

Nariman and Sibal had also mentioned before the bench, which is hearing a batch of pleas on constitutional powers of the Governors, that Union Cabinet had recommended revocation of President's Rule in the state.

Both senior lawyers had urged the bench to consider their plea for interim relief yesterday, apprehending swearing-in of a new Chief Minister by today. 

Nariman had said the Governor had on January 26 dismissed the Chief Minister and his council of ministers even when the assembly was in suspended animation. 

"Governor cannot pass any such order during subsistence of proclamation," he had said, adding that even the Gauhati High Court should not have stayed the disqualification of the 14 MLAs as Chief Whip of the party was not impleaded in the case. 

The bench had then said that the interim order of the High Court came on the ground that these 14 MLAs were not served notice. 

"If you have some evidence that they (rebel MLAs) were served notice before being disqualified by the Speaker, then its altogether a different matter," the bench said. 

Nariman had denied having any such record with him and said that an ad-interim order passed by the High Court cannot be passed in the limited powers of judicial review.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for some rebel Congress MLAs, had opposed the plea and contended that this petition was not maintainable.

He had said the hearing was deferred on December 14 to 15, 2015 after the Speaker was informed that notices have been not served.

The bench then said it wanted to see the original records of proceedings which happened on December 14 and 15 and posted the matter for further hearing on tomorrow.

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