New Delhi: The Centre on Friday justified in Supreme Court the imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh, saying there was “complete breakdown” of governance and law and order in the state where the governor and his family apprehended “grave danger to their lives” daily.
The affidavit, filed by ministry of home affairs, alleged that chief minister Nabam Tuki and speaker Nabam Rebia have been playing “communal politics” against governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa, who in his reports had recommended imposition of President’s Rule in the state by elaborating the sequence of events leading the Congress government becoming a minority.
“Chief minister Nabam Tuki and speaker Nabam Rebia, both belonging to same community, are playing communal politics by inciting, provoking and funding students of a particular community and other communal organisations against other tribes and the governor by referring to his Assamese roots,” it said.
“Even the Raj Bhawan premises were under siege by the supporters of Nabam Tuki and Nabam Rebia for several hours as the district administration and the police did not enforce the prohibitory orders and not even a single arrest was made,” the Centre’s affidavit said.
Elaborating indicators of constitutional breakdown, it said the governor’s letters/references to the chief minister on matters of public importance concerning state administration are mostly not responded to in violation of Article 167(b) of the Constitution.
The affidavit settled by attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, who was asked by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar to respond to the petition challenging the imposition of central rule, said, “there is no effective administration in the state and the government is not functioning as per the Constitution in the state.”
“The governor, who is the nominee of the President of India, is being publically insulted, humiliated and even gheraoed by the supporters of the present government and the state administration is a silent spectator.
“Gherao, at the instance of the political executive, of the governor, who is the nominee of the President, amounts to constitutional breakdown in the state,” the affidavit added.
The affidavit said, “the assembly session which took place on December 16 last year has been disputed by Nabam Tuki and his supporters.”
“Whether this assembly sessions is valid or not is under litigation in this court. In this eventuality, this court rules in favour of interpretation that this assembly session was not valid then in any case there will be constitutional breakdown because the requirement of Article 174(1) would have been breached.
“On the other hand, if this court holds that the December 16 (session) was valid then it is clear that the current government is in a minority and is not allowing the testing of the majority. Therefore, in either case, the state is heading for a constitutional crisis….,” the Centre claimed.
It alleged that the chief minister has been encouraging indiscipline, lawlessness, politicking by government officials by inciting, provoking and funding an apex communal organisation of one community, mainly comprising government officials, to publicly organise demonstrations/rallies for recall/removal/resignation of the incumbent governor.
Further, the affidavit said the chief minister has not kept the governor informed on state’s development agenda, programmes, projects, schemes etc.
The Centre also questioned the conduct of the chief minister by referring to December 8, 2015 letter released by him to the press from New Delhi, using “highly defamatory, unparliamentary, insulting and threatening language against the governor.”
“governor and his family are daily apprehending grave danger to their live. The governor has highlighted that if he could not feel safe, how could a common man be safe with the present law and order situation prevailing in the state,” the affidavit said.
Giving reference of materials and documents annexed with the response, running into 316-page, the Centre said from the material available before the President, it is evident that the speaker together with the political executive prevented the meeting of the legislative assembly from taking place in the assembly premises which was locked.
“As a result, the assembly session had to be held in a different premises. It is worth mentioning that locking of assembly premises amounts to locking of the Constitution,” the affidavit said.
“The fact that the speaker could lock down by an order the very premises of the assembly and not allow the legislators to even visit the assembly is a grave act and subversive in the democratic set up of the Constitution.
“The functioning of the legislature through a premises which is the assembly is sacrosanct and symbolises the democratic will power of the people,” the affidavit said.
The Centre said the present political executive in Arunachal Pradesh “does not command a majority” in the legislative assembly and by making attempts to prevent the assembly session, “the speaker in connivance with the minority government has tried to defeat the basic principle of democracy and the basic requirement of the Constitution that the chief minister must command majority of the house and such majority should be tested on the floor of the house.”
The affidavit was filed in response to the petition filed by Rajesh Tacho, chief whip of Congress legislature party in the state assembly, challenging the governor’s report recommending imposition of President’s Rule in the state.
However, during the hearing, the attorney general had opposed it saying that the petition was filed before the proclamation of central rule on January 26 and had sought its dismissal.
However, the court had allowed to amend the petition. On Thursday, Nabam Tuki had filed a fresh petition in the apex court challenging the promulgation of central rule.
The affidavit further said President’s Rule was imposed after the Centre had reported that “the law and order situation was absolutely unsatisfactory in the capital complex and a war-like scenario had been observed where the state cabinet itself was participating in the agitation.”
“These developments indicated that there was complete breakdown of the constitutional machinery in Arunachal Pradesh and accordingly governor had also recommended for taking special measures including exercising powers under Article 356 of the Constitution,” it said.
Further, the Centre said the governor in his report kept updated the proceedings before the Guwahati high court where the orders passed by him for holding the meeting outside the assembly was upheld.
“The governor had also reported about the news that the single judge in the Guwahati high court had stayed the orders issued by the governor advancing the assembly and also the subsequent proceedings including the removal of the speaker and other decisions taken by the assembly held on December 16 and 17,” it said.
“However, subsequently this stay was vacated by the high court and the petition was dismissed by the single judge on January 13 by a detailed judgement which upheld the validity of the action of the governor in preponing the date of meeting of the assembly,” the Centre’s afidavit said.
“The conduct of the meetings outside the assembly on December 16 and 17 was also upheld,” it said, adding that the impugned decision of the high court was challenged in the apex court.”
The affidavit said the Centre had also received a document from the President’s secretariat titled ‘memorandum by 34 MLAs of Arunachal Pradesh legislative assembly for imposing President’s Rule dated December 28 that had been forwarded to the President by the governor.
“The said document was a representation to the governor by 34 MLAs, signed by them individually to request for imposition of President’s rule in the state. The said memorandum makes it clear that the incumbent chief minister had lost majority in the assembly and there was serious political instability in the state.
“Further the governor of Arunachal Pradesh has submitted one special report dated January 14, a report dated January 15 and a report dated January 18. governor has highlighted the failure of the constitutional machinery in the state,” the affidavit said.
The Centre said the reports of the governor mention that law and order situation has been deteriorating every passing day and there was “total collapse” of the law and order machinery on December 15, 16 and 17, 2015 and January 14, 2016 in particular, when no semblance of state government, as per the Constitution, was seen.
“The state is virtually being run by a minority government for past several months. Chief minister Nabam Tuki and his ministers are publicly assailing and condemning the governor by issuing press statements and also at public platforms/rallies for advancing the assembly session, though the issues are sub-judice,” the affidavit said.
The governor, in his report dated January 15, 2016, has stated that functioning of the governor as head of state has been made impossible by Nabam Tuki, chief minister and his council of ministers.
In the affidavit, the Centre submitted that the prayers in the writ petition seeking production of the advice of the union cabinet to the President on January 24, 2016 and quashing of the said advice are impermissible in law and deserve to be rejected in view of the constitutional prohibition for disclosure of such advice.
It is further submitted that the prayer to restore the assembly or restore the government of Congress is misconcieved and liable to be rejected.
“The prayer for general mandamus to quash all laws, orders and directions issued/passed during the period of proclamation of President’s rule in the state of Arunachal Pradesh as illegal and void-ab initio apart from being vague is also impermissible in law. The proclamation dated January 26, 2016 is absolutely legal and valid,” the affidavit said.
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 assembly session on December 16 in which deputy speaker revoked disqualification of 14 rebel Congress MLAs and removed Rebia from the post of speaker. This sitting was held in a community hall in Itanagar.
Observing that Arunachal Pradesh is a strategically located Northeastern state from the security perspective and was mineral rich, the affidavit said “the State has been witness to recurrent insurgency as well as attempt by China to claim large parts of its territory which has been resisted by India very strongly.
“State is therefore a very sensitive region sharing a restive border with China. It is therefore imperative and in the interest of the country that the state be socially, economically and politically stable.
“The present proceedings arise out a complete breakdown of the constitutional machinery in the state due to which there was political instability on a large scale ultimately resulting in the possible violation of the mandate of Article 174.
“As part of the constitutional duties, the governor of the state had been sending periodic monthly reports of the political developments in the state to the President of India, The Vice-President and the respondent number one throughout the period of October 2015 to december 2015.
“In addition, special reports dated October 17, 2015, November 19, 2015, December 16, 2015 and December 17, 2015 were also send by the governor to the aforesaid addressees,” it said.
It further said the governor had issued an order dated November 3, 2015 summoning the legislative assembly to meet on January 14, 2016.
On November 19, 2015, the governor received a notice of resolution for removal of Nabam Rebia from the office of the speaker by Tamiyo Taga, leader of opposition, and signed by 12 other members of the assembly, the affidavit said.
It on December 9, 2015, the governor modified the order issued by him on November 3 to advance the assembly session from December 16 citing detailed reasons in his order which inter alia included three issues.
Firstly, the need for expeditious disposal of notice of resolution for removal of speaker as per past practices in the Lok Sabha, secondly the seriousness and the urgency accorded to such resolutions in the rules of procedure and conduct of business in the state assembly and finally, the utmost immediacy with which the cloud cast by the notice of resolution of no-confidence in the speaker, over the continuance of the incumbent in the office of the speaker had to be cleared, the affidavit said regarding the three issues.