Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa cited “cow slaughter” to make the case for complete collapse of law and order in Arunachal Pradesh while recommending President’s Rule in the state, reports The Indian Express.
The newspaper says the Governor attached photographs of a cow — 'a Mithun' — being slaughtered outside Raj Bhavan to justify the proclamation of emergency. This bombshell comes even as a packed courtroom in the Supreme Court Wednesday saw senior sdvocates Fali S Nariman and Kapil Sibal appear for the Congress party and insist on knowing the date when the recommendation for President’s rule was made. "This fact, they argued, was crucial to determine whether the Central Government had decided to ‘bypass’ the connected issues that were yet to be adjudicated in a court of law," reports Bar and Bench.
The Express reports that the Governor’s counsel Satya Pal Jain came out with these details in the Supreme Court which asked the central government and Rajkhowa to adduce all relevant materials showing good reasons for imposition of President’s Rule in the state, and observed that the “matter is too serious”.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the central government and Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa on a plea challenging the imposition of President's Rule in the north-eastern state on January 26. Bar and Bench details some of the highlights of Supreme Court asking the Modi government about the 'sudden' decision.
A five-judge Constitution Bench of Justice JS Khehar, Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and Justice N.V. Ramana issued notice to the Central government and the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh over the Congress party’s petition challenging the Central Government’s decision to impose President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh and ordered the Centre to file its response by 29 January and directed further hearing in the matter on 1 February.
"If there were developments, it was your duty to tell us," Justice Khehar told the Governor's counsel, Satya Pal Jain, reports The Hindu.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi pushed for the Bench to dismiss the petition outright. He asked how the Congress could have challenged the legality of the President's proclamation when the same had happened only the next day.
"What was the status of the proclamation when this petition was filed? How can they challenge something that had not occurred at that time of filing? What is the cause of action under challenge? They are asking for a 'super-injunction'... Unless they file a fresh petition today or tomorrow challenging the President's proclamation, I don't have to even reply to the current petition which is completely misconceived," Mr. Rohatgi argued, reports The Hindu.
The court recorded that senior counsel Satya Pal Jain, appearing for Governor Rajkhowa, "undertakes to furnish a copy of the governor's report and other material recommending issuance of a proclamation under Article 356 of the Constitution of India, to the court in a sealed cover".
When Additional Solicitor General Satpal Jain, appearing for the Governor, sought to maintain secrecy of the report and the recommendation for the President’s rule, the bench said, “He will only mention the date of report recommending President’s rule to opposite parties during the course of the day.”
However, the bench for its own perusal sought in a sealed cover the report and recommendation on imposition of the President’s rule.
“Unless we get the grounds for recommending the President’s rule, we cannot proceed. If grounds are not same in the proclamation then it is totally a different ball game,” the bench, also comprising justices Dipak Misra, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and N V Ramana, said during the hearing.
The bench was also of the view that no interim order can be obtained unless the parties see the grounds for proclamation for President’s rule.
A battery of senior lawyers including Fali S Nariman, Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhawan and Vivek Tankha opposed the plea of governor seeking to maintain secrecy of his report and recommendation, saying that larger bench of more than five judges have already laid down the proposition on this aspect.
However, Jain, who was representing Rajkhowa and was asked at the beginning of the hearing to bring to court within 15 minutes the Governor’s report, claimed that the confidentiality of the document was required to be maintained.
He said there are photographs to suggest that the Governor was under threat as slaughtering of animals, burning of tyres and posters took place outside the Raj Bhawan.
The fact that the notification of President’s rule was not challenged in the fresh plea was raised in a big way by the Attorney General who said that they should be asked to file another petition.
When Rohatgi said there were reports on which the President has acted, the bench drew his attention to yesterday’s notification in which there was reference to only one report.
“You (AG) have been saying there have been series of recommendations. Look at the President’s proclamation. It only speaks about one report and informations,” it said.
At the outset, Nariman explained the sequence of events and said that it was a fit case for an interim relief and the court has to prima facie arrive at a view that a case is made out or not.
He said as the report of the Governor was not in hand, it was not known as to what were the grounds taken for recommendation of central rule.
His submission was objected to by senior advocates Ashok Desai and Vikas Singh, appearing for opposite side, saying that no interim order can be passed without hearing them.
“We will not pass any order without hearing all the parties. It is a sensitive issue,” the bench said.
Desai said that reasons for proclamation may be different from what has been given by the Governor. “Yes, that is why we want to see the report and that is why we want to hear the Attorney General,” the bench said.
Explaining the urgency and importance of the matter, Sibal said that the issue of proclamation of President’s rule will come before Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the coming session for affirmation and they may lose it in the Upper House as the NDA does not have majority there.
Further he said even if there is no affirmation, the court has to look into the legality of the actions taken by the Centre and even if there is new Chief Minister, he will have to prove his majority before February 23.
While the bench was taking note of the possibilities, Sibal said that if no government is formed then there is no option but to dissolve the house and go for fresh elections.
He urged the bench not to declare as infractuous the present petition even if the opposition forms the new government.
Earlier during the day, the court agreed to hear at 2 PM the plea challenging the Union Cabinet’s recommendation to impose President’s Rule when Nariman and Sibal mentitioned it for urgent hearing.
The fresh plea assumes significance as the five-judge bench is examining constitutional provisions on the scope of discretionary powers of the Governor, amid continuing month- long impasse over Nabam Tuki-led Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh.
In an earlier plea filed by Nabam Rebia, who was allegedly removed from the post of Speaker by rebel Congress and BJP MLAs in an assembly session held at a community hall in Itanagar on December 16, has listed out legal questions, including the Governor’s power to convene the assembly session without the aid and advice of the government for adjudication by the apex court.
It was also alleged that the Governor had advanced the assembly sitting from January 14 to December 16 without the aid and advice of the Chief Minister and his council of ministers.
Congress, which has 47 MLAs seats in the 60-member assembly, suffered a jolt when 21 of them rebelled. Eleven BJP MLAs backed the rebels in the bid to upstage the Nabam Tuki government. Later, 14 rebel Congress MLAs were disqualified.
The Governor then called an assembly session on December 16 in which Deputy Speaker revoked disqualification of 14 rebel Congress MLAs and removed Rebia from the post of Speaker - all this happened at a community hall in Itanagar.
With PTI & IANS