The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned Governor J.P. Rajkhowa’s authority to concern himself with the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker’s powers to disqualify legislators under the anti-defection law.
“How can the Governor take away the constitutional powers of the Speaker to disqualify lawmakers on the grounds of defection? The Governor has no role to play in issues prescribed in the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection provision) of the Constitution,” a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Justice J.S. Khehar observed.
Questioning the Governor’s interventions in the wake of Speaker Nabam Rebia disqualifying 16 of the 21 rebel Congress MLAs, the Bench had earlier also asked whether the Governor had any powers to “monitor the Tenth Schedule powers of the Speaker.”
“Democracy is a basic structure of the Constitution and if some decisions are anti-democratic, it is the subject matter of judicial review,” the Bench, also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, Madan B. Lokur, P.C. Ghose and N.V. Ramana, said.
On Wednesday, the court questioned the Governor’s use of his “constitutional discretion” to advance the sixth session of the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly by over a month, asking whether it was backed by sound constitutional principles.
The advancing of the session from its scheduled date of January 14, 2016 to December 16, 2015 in order to remove Speaker Nabam Rebia triggered the entire political crisis, leading to imposition of President’s rule on January 26.