The Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench’s interim order on 17 February directing the parties before it in the Arunachal Pradesh disqualification and President’s rule case to maintain the status quo is significant.
The order follows the Union Cabinet’s decision to lift the President’s rule imposed on 26 January, so that a new Government can be formed in the State.
The bench was initially disinclined to restrict the Governor to let a new Government to be formed during the hearing of the case, and before the delivery of the judgment in the case.
The counsel representing the ousted chief minister and the Speaker of the assembly, now under suspended animation, managed to convince the bench that if a new Government is allowed to be sworn-in, many of the issues before the bench would become infructuous, and the situation would become fait accompli.
One of the issues before the Bench is whether the disqualification of 14 rebel MLAs by the ousted Speaker and the subsequent annulment of the disqualification by the Deputy Speaker are valid exercises of power under the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution, dealing with disqualification on the ground of defection.
On 17 February, the bench sought the original records dealing with the disqualification proceedings, some parts of which are with the Gauhati High Court in a sealed cover, to be produced before it on 18 February.
On 17 February, the bench was hearing Kapil Sibal, counsel for the petitioners, whether the Governor could validly send a message to the House during the intersession period.
Sibal claimed that the President had never sent messages to Parliament during the inter-session period. This would lead to a ''Constituitonal disaster", Sibal said, if it is allowed.
The validity of Arunachal Pradesh Governor, JP Rajkhowa's sending a message to the Arunachal Pradesh assembly to advance its session from January to December to consider the no-confidence motion against the Speaker of the assembly is now under examination before the bench.
The order can be read here.