New Delhi, 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.
An apex court constitution bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and Justice N.V. Ramana also ordered the centre to file its response, if any, by January 29 and directed further hearing in the matter on Monday (February 1).
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”.
The court directed that the “original record be kept available by the attorney general during the hearing”.
The court gave liberty to the petitioner, Congress chief whip in Arunachal Pradesh Rajesh Tacho, to amend the plea to “assail the report of the governor, and the consequential (presidential) proclamation”.
The court directed that Tacho be provided, during the course of the day, the date on which Rajkhowa sent a report recommending the imposition of President’s Rule.
At the outset of the hearing, senior counsel Fali S. Nariman told the apex court that ever since the last hearing on February 22, Arunachal Pradesh had been put under President’s Rule and two advisors appointed to assist the governor in running the affairs of the state.
Seeking the date on which the governor recommended the imposition of President’s Rule, Nariman said senior counsel Harish Salve, who appeared for the governor, told the court on January 14 that nothing untoward would be done to precipitate the situation.
Describing as “crucial” the date on which President’s Rule recommendation was sent by Rajkhowa, senior counsel Kapil Sibal sought to know the grounds and material relied upon by the governor while making the recommendations.
Opposing the plea, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that the governor’s report was confidential and could not be shared with petitioner Tacho. However, he said, it could be shared with the bench.
Nariman contested Rohatgi’s plea that the governor’s report was confidential as he cited an earlier seven-judge bench judgment in former Karnataka chief minister late S.R. Bommai’s case, wherein the court said that the governor’s report was not confidential.
Justice Lokur confronted the attorney general with the apex court judgment wherein the governor’s report was reproduced.
The presidential proclamation mentions “a” report by the governor, Justice Ramana pointed out as Rohatgi said there were a series of reports by Governor Rajkhowa.
“Whatever is the worth of this petition (by Rajesh Tacho), you reply. You may accept it or you may not accept it,” the court observed as the AG contested the maintainability of the plea challenging the cabinet decision to recommend President’s Rule.
Contending that the cabinet recommendation was immune from challenge, Rohatgi said that unless there is an order, decree or a crystallised situation, you can’t challenge it.
As the AG told the court that there was no challenge to the presidential proclamation in the matter before the court, Nariman said the attorney general could not be technical in his approach.
Rohatgi said it was not a question of his getting technical but every proceeding of the court is governed by rules and procedures.
The Congress on January 25 moved the Supreme Court challenging the cabinet decision to impose President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh on the recommendation of Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa.
The union cabinet on January 24 decided to impose President’s Rule.A