Democracy Restored - July 13, 2016

The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has unanimously ordered restoration of Congress government in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. In an unprecedented verdict, the Constitution Bench has nullified all the decisions of the Governor that had led to imposition of the President’s Rule in the state. The bench has termed Governor’s actions as “illegal” and violative of the Constitutional provisions. The bench said, “All steps and decisions taken by Arunachal Pradesh legislative assembly pursuant to the Governor’s decisions are unsustainable and the same are therefore set aside”. A noted political commentator, Manish Chibbar, has immediately twitted, “After this SC judgment, ethically & morally, Arunachal Pradesh Governor should resign. But, don't see that happening.” The Constitution Bench’s judgment is considered as historic because for the first time the Supreme Court is reinstating a government in a state even after it had been replaced by a new government. In effect, the status quo in Arunachal Pradesh as on 15th December 2016 will be restored paving the way for reinstatement of a Congress government in the state headed by Nabam Tuki. In a reaction to the decision, Mr. Tuki said, “The court has saved the country and constitution. We have got justice.” It is a huge setback to the ruling BJP government at the centre as it was accused of engineering a split in the Congress party in Arunachal Pradesh and dislodging the Tuki government in unconstitutional way. Moreover, just few weeks back, the Supreme Court had restored the Congress government in Uttarakhand led by Harish Rawat. Welcoming the Supreme Court judgment, Congress Vice-President has taken a jibe at the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a tweet, Rahul said, “Thank you Supreme Court for explaining to the Prime Minister what democracy is.” Apart from ensuring safety of Congress government in Meghalaya and Manipur for time being, which are also facing threats from internal dissidence and powerful opposition in the form of BJP’s central government, the Supreme Court judgment is important on two counts. One, it has reinforced itself as the final arbiter in anti-defection law and two, it has firmly withstood its independence from the executives. In short, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has applied brakes to the derailment of Indian democracy.

- Prof. Parimal Maya Sudhakar