NEW DELHI: Embattled Arunachal Pradesh governor J P Rajkhowa on Wednesday strongly defended his actions of advancing assembly session and fixing its agenda claiming that the chief minister and the speaker were “hand-in-glove” and trying to remain in power despite losing majority, even as the Supreme Court observed that he cannot take away the House’s discretion on the basis of “mere apprehension”.
Terming the political situation on the “sensitive border” state as “chronic and chaotic”, Rajkhowa’s counsel said, “the speaker (Nabam Rebia) was under the clout and was hand-in-glove with the chief minister (Nabam Tuki).
“The governor apprehended that the biased Speaker would act in support of the chief minister…It was not justified to wait till January 14 this year, so he advanced the session to December 16. This was done for the public cause and in their interest. What was wrong in that?”
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar reiterated its objection, saying the governor may advance assembly session but he cannot take away “discretion of the House” to “discuss, debate and decide” any issue.
“There are two aspects to it, that is whether the resolution (to remove the speaker) is debated upon and decided is upto his discretion or the discretion of the House. How can you (Governor) ask them to deal it as the first agenda?… Who is he to say this. Therefore, by saying so, he has taken away discretion of the House,” the bench, also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and N V Ramana, said.
It also said that the governor cannot act on mere apprehension and has to apply his “intellect” so that the “sanctity of democracy remains”.
“The governor cannot act on mere apprehension. He has the right to play under the Constitution, as constitutional discipline warrants that the sanctity of democracy remains,” it said.
Senior advocate T R Andhyarujina, appearing for Rajkhowa, began the arguments by referring to the sequence of events and alleged “arm-twisting tactics” adopted by the Tuki government in its attempt to rein in 21 revolting MLAs and said there was little scope for judicial review of the discretionary decisions taken by him.
The bench, examining constitutional schemes on the scope of discretionary powers of the governor and his actions to advance the assembly session, also said, “not only the governor but any prudent man will apply his intellect before acting on a complaint or an apprehension.”