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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court, examining the powers of Governors, on Thursday took strong note of a submission that all decisions of the Governor are not open to judicial review and said it cannot be a mute spectator when democratic processes are “slaughtered”.
“If democracy is slaughtered, how can the court remain silent,” a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar said when the counsel for a BJP MLA of crisis-hit Arunachal Pradesh referred to the powers of the Governors to drive home of the point that courts cannot “review” all the decisions of the Governor. The bench, meanwhile, summoned dispatch records, having details of correspondences of Arunachal Pradesh assembly from October to till date, on February 8 as it was not satisfied with documents produced by an official of the assembly.
The bench, also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and N V Ramana, wanted to ascertain certain communications between the office of Assembly Speaker Nabam Rebia and Governor J P Rajkhowa on issues like convening or advancing assembly session and disqualification of rebel Congress MLAs. Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for some rebel Congress lawmakers, supported the Governor’s decisions saying that summoning the assembly session cannot be termed “undemocratic” and does not frustrate “democratic process”.
Rather, locking out the assembly building and shying away from it are undemocratic acts. “It is not compulsory for the Governor to take aid and advice of the Chief Minister and his council of ministers in summoning the assembly session,” he said, adding that certain constitutional schemes empower the Governor to act on his own in “exceptional” and “special” circumstances. By summoning assembly session, the Governor is “simply setting in motion the democratic process”, the lawyer said and asked how can it be termed illegal by those who lost majority support and shied away from the House.
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.