New Delhi: A Chief Minister's exclusive powers cannot be pre-empted by the Governor, whose powers are "limited" under the Constitution and should be exercised in a fair manner to ensure survival of democracy, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.
"Under the Constitution, he (Governor) has not got so much of powers. He has limited powers which should be used in a fair manner, so that democracy survives," a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar said while examining Governor's powers, an issue that has arisen in the wake of the political crisis in Arunachal Pradesh.
Observing that the Governor "has no business to call the assembly session on his whims to test the majority of a Chief Minister and his government", the apex court asked "does it not amount to interfering with the legislative functioning of the House."
"The Governor cannot pre-empt the powers which are exclusively granted by the Constitution to the Chief Minister and his (council of) ministers," the bench said.
The bench posed several questions during the hearing of a batch of petitions filed by various Congress leaders challenging the advancement of the assembly session by Governor J P Rajkhowa, when a lawyer of some rebel Congress MLAs justified the actions of the Governor.
Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, the counsel for rebels, said the Governor, being the administrative head, in his "wisdom thought that this (summoning of the House and subsequent business) may be one of the solutions".
His submission was in regard to the advancing of the assembly session from this January to December last year by Governor Rajkhowa.
The bench, which also comprised Justices Dipak Misra, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and N V Ramana, observed that the right of the Governor under Article 175 (right of the Governor to address and send messages to the House and Houses) of the Constitution was limited.
"There is a problem. Messaging, he can do independently but the nature of messages is important. He needs to take the aid and advise of the Chief Minister and his council of ministers," the bench said, adding, "how far he (Governor) can act, is limited."
Dwivedi submitted that the Governor can send a message and call for the assembling of the House as he has got such powers under the Constitution.
Before concluding the day's hearing, the bench also opened the sealed cover containing dispatch records of the state assembly provided by the Secretary of the House.