The Supreme Court on Friday (15 January) was told that the governor, though being a part of the legislature in an overall scheme of the constitution, had restricted powers and could not send messages to regulate compositions of the state assembly or its proceedings or order items of agenda.
“Governor has a limited role to play in the affairs of the assembly. He is not a sentinel. He is not a moral authority on the state assembly,” senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for ousted Arunachal Pradesh Speaker Nabam Rebia, told the constitution bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and Justice N.V.Ramana.
The bench was hearing Rebia’s plea challenging the role of Governor J.P.Rajkhowa in the ongoing political battle in the state involving feuding factions of the Congress legislature party.
Assailing the role of the governor for sending messages asking Rebia not to disturb the constitution of the state assembly and advance its convening to December 16 as against the scheduled assembling on January 14, Sibal told the court that “there is no power (vested in the governor by the constitution) to prepone it (assembly session) and in the instant case he does it at the behest of the opposition”.
At this, the court observed “and if he does it, then it (validity of the decision) can be decided by the court”.
Flagging the various controversial decisions of the Arunachal governor including not to proceed against the rebel Congress legislators, Sibal told the court that the governor cannot monitor the speaker’s “quasi judicial powers”.
Assailing the governor’s decision to advance the assembly session which was held in a community hall in Itanagar, Sibal said that the constitutional functionary can’t convene, prorogue or dissolve the house (assembly) in his discretion and under the constitutional scheme, has to act on the aid and advice on the chief minister and his council of ministers (government).
He also framed six questions to be examined by the court on the powers of the governor and deputy speaker under the constitution.
Taking exception to Rajkhowa trying to direct the order of assembly proceedings, Sibal told the court that the governor has no business to interfere with as to what business was being transacted by assembly as this is decided by the house’s Business Advisory Committee.
Hearing will continue on Monday.