New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said Arunachal Pradesh Governor JP Rajkhowa cannot summon "at his whims" the state Assembly session after he decided to advance it by nearly a month to test the majority of the crisis-hit Congress-led Nabam Tuki government.
"The Governor cannot summon the assembly session at his whims. The occasion has not arisen here (in Arunachal Pradesh) as we have been saying from the beginning. Here the situation was not so," a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice JS Khehar observed. Arunachal Pradesh is currently under President's rule.
The court also said there was nothing wrong if a no-confidence motion is passed against the Tuki government, which faced a rebellion, in the state assembly when the Deputy Speaker was in charge of the House proceedings after removal of the Speaker.
The court made the observations when during the hearing senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for some rebel Congress MLAs, reiterated his stand that the Governor was not barred from summoning the assembly session on his own, without the aid and advice of the Chief Minister and his council of ministers.
"The only precondition is that there has to be some business to be transacted by the House and the Governor is not barred," he said.
Once the House is in session, the Governor has no role to decide as to what business it should transact as it is then the duty of the assembly, the senior lawyer said.
"The general rule is that the constitutional powers should be construed liberally," he said, adding that the Governor has discretionary powers under special circumstances.
The court, which is hearing a batch of pleas on certain powers of the Governor under the Constitution, would resume hearing on Tuesday.
The court had earlier questioned Rajkhowa's decision to advance the assembly session to December last year from this January, asking what difference would it have made if the sitting was held as originally scheduled.
"What would be the change or difference if the assembly proceedings would have taken place on pre-scheduled January 14 instead of December 16," the bench had then asked.
On the issue of Deputy Speaker, the bench on Monday said, "If Deputy Speaker assumes office of the Speaker and is in charge of the House after the Speaker is removed and a group of MLAs stand up and move no-confidence motion against the government (and) it is passed, then what is wrong? I do not think there is anything wrong."
"Prima facie, you (bench) may be right," senior advocate and jurist FS Nariman, appearing for Congress leaders, said.
The bench, which also comprised Justices Dipak Misra, MB Lokur, PC Ghose and NV Ramana, also raised some procedural issues like whether such business (no confidence motion) has to be there in the list of business of the assembly.