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Arunachal govt totters, Gauhati HC steps in to check Guv’s action on Cong plea

As an ugly political game in Itanagar plunged Arunachal Pradesh into turmoil, the Gauhati High Court stepped in Thursday, putting on hold all decisions, including the “ouster” of Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, “election” of a dissident Congressman as his successor and the “removal” of Speaker Nebam Rebia.

Chief Minister Tuki appealed to President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking their intervention to “uphold” the Constitution in the face of the “unprecedented murder” of democracy and “bypassing” of a democratically-elected government by Governor Jyoti Prashad Rajkhowa.

Justice Hrishikesh Roy of the Gauhati High Court, while coming down heavily on the Governor’s December 9 notification advancing the Winter session of the state Assembly by a month despite protests from the government, said prima facie it appeared to be in violation of Articles 174 and 175 of the Constitution dealing with convening of the session by the Governor and his message to the House. The HC order came on a writ petition filed by the Speaker, challenging the December 9 notification issued by the Governor.

Earlier on Thursday, in a bizarre turn of events, rebel Congress MLAs and Opposition BJP legislators got together in a local hotel to “vote out” the Nabam Tuki-led Congress government and to “elect” a rebel Congress MLA as the new “Chief Minister”. A day earlier, they had “impeached” the Speaker in a make-shift “Assembly” in a community hall.

Issuing notice, Justice Hrishikesh Roy kept in abeyance the impugned decisions, including the notification issued by the Deputy Speaker restoring the membership of 14 suspended MLAs and the holding of the “session” at a new place and the decision taken at the “session” to “remove” the Speaker.

The judge allowed petitioner Kapil Sibal to implead the government of Arunachal Pradesh as a party respondent. He posted the case for next hearing on February 1, 2016. Eleven BJP MLAs and two Independent MLAs have joined hands with 21 Congress rebels in the 60-member House.
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