Delhi: In a major setback to BJP-led government at the Centre, Supreme Court on Wednesday restored ousted Congress Chief Minister Nabam Tuki in Arunachal Pradesh, saying the 'clock should be turned back'.
The apex court quashed all decisions of Governor JP Rajkhowa's that precipitated its fall in January, holding them 'violative' of the Constitution.
In an unanimous verdict, a Constitution bench of Justices JS Khehar, Dipak Misra, Madan B Lokur, Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and NV Ramana directed the restoration of the status quo ante as it existed on December 15, 2015.
Reading out the operative portions of the main judgement, Justice Khehar said the order of the Governor dated December 9, 2015, pre-poning the session of Legislative Assembly from January 14, 2016, to December 16, 2015, is violative of Article 163 read with Article 174 of the Constitution and as such is liable to be quashed and the same is quashed.
"Secondly, the message of governor directing the manner of conducting the proceedings of the sixth session of Legislative Assembly of Arunachal Pradesh from December 16-18, 2015, is violative of Article 163 read with Article 175 of the Constitution and as such is liable to be quashed and the same is quashed," the bench said.
Thirdly, the bench said "all steps and decisions taken by the Legislative Assembly of Arunachal Pradesh in pursuant to Governor's order of December 9, 2015, are unsustainable and liable to be set aside and as such it is set aside," as per PTI.
Finally, the bench observed, "In view of the decision from one to three, status quo ante as it prevailed on December 15, 2015, is ordered to be restored."
Nabam Tuki takes charge as CM at Arunachal Pradesh Bhavan in Delhi
Meanwhile, following the SC's order of restoring his government, in a dramatic move Tuki today took charge as CM of the state at Arunachal Bhavan in Delhi.
"I have taken the charge as Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh. Tomorrow I am going to Itanagar. Immediately after reaching Itanagar, I will convene a meeting of council of ministers. Subsequently, I will also convene a meeting of Congress Legislature Party, My government will devote itself for the welfare of people of Arunachal Pradesh on priority," Tuki said.
He also tweeted - "Resumed my duties as CM of Arunachal Pradesh in compliance with SC Order." A press statement said Tuki also spoke to the Chief Secretary and DGP regarding the future course of his government.
— Nabam Tuki (@NabamtukiCM) July 13, 2016
— Nabam Tuki (@NabamtukiCM) July 13, 2016
Earlier, he had met Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her official 10, Janpath residence. The Congress president during the meeting, which was also attended by party vice president Rahul Gandhi, asked Tuki to take everybody on board and strengthen the grand old party in the Northeastern state.
Tuki told ANI after the meeting that he has been asked to work hard towards strengthening the Congress in Arunachal Pradesh and to keep everyone united.
"It was a courtesy call. I met both president and the vice president (of Congress) and they have both congratulated me for the SC judgment," he said.
When asked specifically if he would meet the rebel leaders led by Khaliko Pul for talks, Tuki said, "They have asked to talk to Congress MLAs and strengthen the party."
Sonia Gandhi, Opposition parties attack BJP
Sonia, welcoming the Supreme Court verdict, hoped the ruling would deter the Central government from further misusing its power.
"The verdict will deter the Union government from any further misuse of power. Those who had trampled upon constitutional propriety and democratic norms have been defeated," she said.
Taking on the Modi government, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi thanked the Supreme Court for "explaining to the Prime Minister what democracy is".
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has been locked in bitter turf battles with the Centre, described the Supreme Court judgment as a "tight slap on (the) dictatorial Modi government".
"Hope Modi ji would learn and now stop interfering in democratically elected governments," the Aam Aadmi Party leader tweeted.
The CPI-M urged the Modi government to "stop its growing authoritarian tendency of invoking central rule in states" ruled by non-BJP parties.
"Following the Uttarakhand experience, this judgment poses an irrevocable question of political morality and accountability of this BJP-led central government," the Communist Party of India-Marxist said, as per IANS.
SC verdict on Arunachal 'very strange', says BJP
On the other hand, BJP appeared critical of the SC verdict, saying it was a "very strange order" that the leader with the majority support is being asked to sit in the Opposition and also wondered if the verdict 'weakens' the democratic spirit.
Asserting that numerical strength was very important in democracy, it said the current CM Kalikho Pul has the number to run the government and not his predecessor Nabam Tuki, whose government has been revived by the judgement.
"Much water has flowed down in the last seven months. The order certainly raises a question as to whether it strengthens the democratic spirit or weakens it. This is a question as it appears from the verdict that the one having the majority is being asked to sit in the opposition and the one who has lost it is being asked to run the government. This is a very strange order and that is why it is being studied. The person who has the majority, who is running the government presently is being asked to be in the Opposition," party national secretary Shrikant Sharma told a press conference.
(With Agency inputs)