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We can set clock back, SC to Cong on Arunachal row

We can set clock back, SC to Cong on Arunachal row
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to pass an interim order on a fervent plea of Congress against ‘illegal’ swearing-in of its rebel leader Kalikho Pul-led government in Arunachal Pradesh, saying it can “set the clock back” if the Governor’s actions are found unconstitutional.

“Don’t mix up too many things. If you mix up to much, then it would be difficult to compartmentalise. I think you (lawyers) all know that we can put things back...have you not read that passage of SR Bombai judgement,” the Apex Court said when senior lawyer FS Nariman sought an interim order by referring to subsequent developments in the crisis-hit state where Pul was sworn in as the Chief Minister last Friday.

The Bench, which reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions dealing with discretionary powers of the Governor to summon or advance the Assembly sessions, said it had the powers to undo the damage. “We can’t get into all this. We should not do this, but this court has the power to set things right. This court has done this before. If we agree with you, we can set the clock back. Let them do whatever they want want to,” a five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Justice JS Khehar, said.

It said the verdict in this case will not only have its effect in Arunachal Pradesh, but it is going to affect every state. “The verdict is going to affect every state. This will set a precedence,” the Bench said.

The Bench, however, segregated two other sets of petition, which were filed against the subsequent promulgation of President’s Rule in the state and its revocation thereafter, which led to the formation of a new government.

It has now fixed these pleas for hearing after the pronouncement of verdict on petitions dealing with the Governor’s discretionary powers in advancing the Assembly session and setting the agenda of the House. The Bench is hearing a batch of pleas on constitutional powers of Governors.

Another senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for Arunachal Pradesh Congress leaders, endorsed Nariman’s view and added that the swearing in of the government led by Pul would create “a new kind of methodology of toppling governments”.

Observing that Pul was a Congress MLA, who has been sworn in as the Chief Minister without any communication from the party, he apprehended that soon the House may be dissolved, which would ultimately render the pending petitions infructuous.

To this, the Bench said even if the House is dissolved, “we can still set the things straight if we agree with you. And if we don’t agree with you, things will be as it is”. 

Both Nariman and Sibal contended that how can a Governor, who is a party in the case, can swear in a new Chief Minister who is a Congress leader without any communication from the party appointing him as the leader. Sibal said at 6.30 pm last Friday, President’s Rule was revoked in the state and at 10 pm the new Chief Minister was sworn in and observed that during this period there was no government in the state.
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