The Supreme Court on Thursday referred to a Constitution bench a bunch of petitions arising out of certain orders passed by the Gauhati High Court in the ongoing political battle in Arunachal Pradesh.
A bench comprising Justices J S Khehar and C Nagappan said the matters pertained to constitutional provisions on the rights of the Governor, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker and hence needed to be decided by a larger bench.
The counsel, appearing for Nabam Rebia who was allegedly removed by 14 rebel Congress and BJP MLAs from the post of Speaker, the deputy speaker and the Governor agreed with the suggestion of the apex court bench that the matter should be heard by a five-judge Constitution bench.
The moment the bench said it would refer the matter to a larger bench, a battery of senior lawyers, including F S Nariman, Kapil Sibal and Harish Salve, representing various parties in the matters, rushed to the court of the Chief Justice T S Thakur and sought setting up of the Constitution bench on an urgent basis on the ground that the matter was sensitive and needed to be decided at the earliest.
The CJI assured them of an early decision.
On Wednesday, the apex court had ordered that the proceedings of the state assembly will not be held till January 18 (rpt January 18).
The bench had also allowed Rebia to take back his plea filed against an administrative order of the Acting Chief Justice of the High Court.
Rebia, who has challenged in Gauhati High Court various decisions of the Governor and Deputy Speaker including his removal from the Speaker’s post, had alleged that the High Court’s Acting Chief Justice had "erroneously rejected" his plea, filed on the judicial side, in administrative capacity.
He had also sought recusal of Justice B K Sharma from hearing his plea.
Rebia was removed from the post of the Speaker by 14 rebel Congress MLAs, disqualified by the Speaker, and BJP MLAs on December 16 in an assembly session presided over by the Deputy Speaker in a Community Hall in Itanagar.
The Deputy Speaker, before removing Rebia from Speaker’s post, had also quashed the disqualification of the rebel Congress legislators.
Later, various decisions of the Governor and the Deputy Speaker were challenged by Rebia in Gauhati High Court which passed an interim order keeping in abeyance the decisions of Governor and Deputy Speaker till February one.