The Nabam Rebia case demarcates the role of a Governor in the functioning of a State Government.
This case pertains to the constitutional crisis in Arunachal Pradesh between November 2015 and March 2016. In the Arunchal Pradesh Legislative Assembly, the ruling Congress party had a majority of 47 members in the house, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was in the opposition with 11 members along with 2 independent members. On the 3rd of November 2015, the 11 BJP MLAs and 2 independents asked the Governor for the following:
The Governor (without consulting the Chief Minister or the Speaker) pre-poned the next session of the assembly to 16.12.2015. The removal of the Speaker was listed as the first item of business to be discussed on the first day.
On the December 16th, the pre-poned session commenced in a community hall (and not the Legislative Assembly) with 33 MLAs taking part. During the first day of the session, the house removed the Speaker and his office was declared vacant. On the next day of the session which was held in a hotel, Nabam Tuki was removed as Chief Minister and Kalikho Pul is installed as the new Chief Minister. Nabam Rebia then moved the Gauhati High Court to challenge the pre-ponement of the Assembly and all subsequent events.
The Gauhati High Court ruled that neither the Governor’s discretion nor the proceedings of a Legislature can be challenged in a court of law under Articles 163 and 212 of the Constitution. As a consequence, the Court held that the actions of the Assembly and the Governor had been entirely within the law and their remit as functionaries of the people of the State.
Following this, Speaker Rebia appealed to the Supreme Court to hold Governor’s act of interfering in the functioning of State legislature as falling outside the scope of Article 161 and Article 163(2).
(i) What is the scope of Governor’s discretionary power under Article 163(2)?
(ii) Does the Governor have “discretionary power” with respect to functioning of the State Legislature in matters concerning summoning of the session, removal of the speaker and proceedings of disqualification under Xth Schedule?
(iii) Does the Speaker’s act of deciding on disqualification petitions under Xth Schedule when a petition for his removal is pending before the House constitutionally permissible?
Submissions on behalf of the Governor
We would like to thank the office of Mr. T.R. Andhyarujina, Senior Advocate for providing us with this document and would like to offer our condolences for his passing.
Leave granted. Final Order and Judgment delivered.
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