Supreme Court: Governor Can’t Summon Assembly Session On His Whims

The Apex court on Monday said Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa can’t summon on his “whims and fancies” the assembly session to test the majority of Chief Minister Naban Tuki’s government (since dismissed).

“You (governor) can’t ask the house to assemble on your whims and fancies,” as observed by the constitution bench comprising Justices Jagdish Singh Khehar, Dipak Misra, Madan B. Lokur, Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and N.V. Ramana while hearing petitions filed by the Congress leaders challenging Governor Rajkhowa’s report to recommend the imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh, subsequent presidential proclamation.
Senior counsel Dwivedi contended that if the governor is satisfied that the chief minister has lost the majority support in the assembly he could ask the latter to convene the assembly session to prove his majority. If the chief minister fails to do so, the governor has three options – dismiss the government under Article 164 (1) of the constitution, send a report to the president invoking Article 356 or call the session of the assembly.

The bench asked Senior counsel Dwivedi: “Who has the primacy in such a situation?” As the senior counsel said that “primacy is with the elected government”, the court asked if there was any discretion with the governor.

Senior counsel Dwivedi reiterated that if the chief minister failed to convene an assembly session, the governor in exercise of his discretionary power was entitled to call the assembly session.

Senior counsel Fali S. Nariman told the court that Deputy Speaker T. Norbu Thongdok had written to Governor Rajkhowa that he was the speaker and sought records pertaining to the speaker’s office as custodian of the assembly. Senior counsel Nariman said the governor had sought legal opinion on Thongdok’s plea.

Making it clear that it would not pass orders on a daily basis on the affairs of Arunachal Pradesh, the court said it will decide when Rabia’s plea filed on Monday evening is put up before the bench.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the apex court that the offices of the chief minister and other ministers have not been sealed as contended by the petitioners who challenged the imposition of President’s Rule in the state.

Rohatgi said documents and files allegedly taken into possession on the governor’s instructions ran into one lakh pages, adding that the petitioners, including Congress Party’s chief whip in Arunachal Assembly Rajesh Tacho, should indicate what documents they required and the same would be furnished to them.

Making it clear that the list provided by the attorney general was not exhaustive, the court said that the petitioners would be provided with full details of the documents in the possession of the state and they would then indicate which documents were required.

“You give the whole list. This is not the whole list. Give the entire list (of the documents connected with the matter before the court),” the bench told the attorney general.

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