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Nabam Rebia V. Deputy Speaker, Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly( 2016)

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Citations: 2017 13 SCC 326

Date of Judgment: 13/0/.2016

Equivalent Citations:  AIR 2016 SC 3209, 2016 (11) SCC 673, AIR 2016 SC (SUPP) 449, 2016 (2) ABR (CRI) 843, (2016) 2 RECCIVR 838, 2017 (1) SCC (CRI) 334, (2016) 165 ALLINDCAS 141 (SC), (2016) 6 SCALE 506, (2016) 3 KER LT 77, 2016 (8) SCC 1, (2016) 3 RECCRIR 700, (2016) 3 ALLCRILR 738, (2016) 96 ALLCRIC 523, (2016) 3 ALLCRIR 2952, (2016) 4 KCCR 490, (2016) 2 GUJ LH 622, (2016) 64 OCR 817, 2016 CRILR(SC&MP) 662, (2016) 3 CRIMES 232, (2016) 4 MAD LJ(CRI) 519, (2016) 3 PAT LJR 372, (2016) 3 BOMCR(CRI) 337, (2016) 3 CRILR(RAJ) 662, (2016) 3 DLT(CRL) 298, (2016) 3 JLJR 263, (2016) 2 UC 1264, (2016) 3 CRIMES 158, 2016 CRILR(SC MAH GUJ) 662, (2016) 5 GAU LT 1

Case No: Civil Appeal 6203-6204 OF 2016

Case Type: Civil Appellate Jurisdiction

Appellants: Nabam Rebia and Bamang Felix

Respondent: Deputy Speaker and others

Bench:

  • Hon’ble Justice J.S. Khehar,
  • Hon’ble Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose
  • Hon’ble Justice N.V. Ramana,
  • Hon’ble Justice Dipak Misra 
  • Hon’ble Justice Madan B. Lokur

Court: Supreme Court of India

Statues referred:

  • The Constitution of India: Article 174, Article 163, Article 168, Article 200, Article 165, Article 361, Article 175, Article 156.

Cases Referred: N/A

Facts:

  • On 21.10.2015, the 5th session of State Legislative Assembly came to an end and on 3.11.2015 an order was passed by the governor calling for 6th session of the Assembly which was scheduled to convene on 14.1.2016 in Legislative Assembly Chamber.
  • The order was issued by Governor on advice of Chief Minister and with consultation of the Speaker.
  • Through an order dated 9.12.2015, the 6th session was preponed by the Governor without consulting Council of Ministers and how the meeting of the house will be conducted was also specified in the order.
  • A message was issued by Governor expressing his support. This act of the governor was referred as inappropriate use of constitutional power by the appellants.
  • Speaker Nabam Rebia unilaterally excluded the dissident MLAs on the grounds of defection before commencement of assembly.
  • The resolution to dismiss Speaker Nabam Rebia was approved on December 16, 2015. Speaker challenged his dismissal in High Court of Guwahati. The speaker’s appeal was dismissed by the High Court and the order of disqualification of the congress MLAs was stayed as a result of this the case was sent to Supreme Court of India.

Issues Involved:

  • Whether the governor’s decision to prepone the Assembly was constitutional.
  • Whether the speaker could disqualify the MLAs while the motion of his removal was pending before the house.

Contentions of Appellant

The Counsel for the Appellant contented that-

  • The legislators of BJP were supporting parties opposed to Nambam Tuki as Chief Minister in an attempt to overthrow the current government.
  • It was further contended that the 14 MLAs of INC was disqualified in an unconstitutional manner. The deputy speaker Tenzing Norbu Tongdok, quashed the order of disqualification, even though he had been dislodged by the disqualification order.
  • The 6th session of the Assembly was conducted by deputy speaker outside the state assembly’s official premises.
  • It was emphasized that the role of the Governor should not be confused with the idea that the Governor is a member of the State Legislature, as implied by Article 168. It was argued that the Governor should not even be regarded as a House officer.
  • It was contended that Governor has no right to impede with the legislative autonomy of the house under article 175 of the constitution. It was argued that the Governor’s message from 9.12.2015 could potentially be ruled unlawful since it did not fall within the scope of Article 175(2).
  • the Governor is neither an officer of the State Legislature nor a member of the State Legislative Assembly. Hence, he cannot have any authority over the matters of house.

Contentions of Respondent:

The Counsel for the Respondent contented that-

  • The Appellants’ challenge to the Governor’s order and message dated December 9, 2015, should be dismissed by the Court as the decision was taken by governor in his own discretion under article 163(2).
  • It was argued that the purported instructions given by Governor in the message sent to assembly was in consonance of rules and procedures and not as per independent will of the Governor.
  • The meeting of the house is not called by Governor as per his own initiative hence, it was argued that the rules governing the above procedure should not be confused with the rules governing the House’s business itself.
  • The Governor’s action through message dated 9.12.2015 was for upholding constitutional integrity and morality of the house and the expected speaker.

Judgment

The five judge constitutional bench held the Governor’s order for preponing Arunachal Pradesh Legislative assembly 6th session by one month i.e. from 14.01.2016 to 16.12.2015 without the aid and advice of Chief Minister or Council of Ministers or speaker for violating article 174 as invalid or unconstitutional. a five-judge panel decided that judicial review applies to the Governor’s power to convene, adjourn, and move forward with a session. It was further held that while the resolution of removal of speaker was pending before the house he cannot adjudicate upon the disqualification of MLAs as it would be constitutionally impermissible.

Ratio Decidendi

The Supreme Court referred Article 163 of the constitution which provides that state’s Governor must act in consultation with council of ministers. It was pointed out that Governor is constrained by constitutional framework and does not possess vast discretionary powers. The power given to Governor under article 163 may be exercised with the assistance of Council of Ministers. The Governor could not call a meeting of the House, set its legislative agenda, or address the legislative assembly without first consulting the Chief Minister or the Council of Ministers. According to the Court, which held that the Governor’s authority did not exceed that which was granted to him under Article 174 of the constitution.

Obiter Dicta

N/A

Conclusion

The case of Nabam Rebia v. Deputy Speaker, Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly (2016) marked a significant milestone in clarifying the limitations of the Governor’s powers and the importance of adhering to constitutional frameworks. The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, declared the Governor’s order to prepone the Legislative Assembly session as unconstitutional, emphasizing the need for consultation with the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers.

Drafted By:  Palak Mehta

Published on: February 10, 2024 at 00:20 IST