While assessing the recent events in Arunachal Pradesh critically examine the powers and duties of a Governor under Article 174, 175 and 176 of the Constitution.

Published: February 4, 2016

Article 175 of the Constitution empowers the Governor to address and send messages to the house(s) of the Assembly.  The message can be send with respect to a Bill then pending in the Legislature or otherwise. The house shall with all convenient despatch consider any matter required by the message to be taken into consideration. But the Governor’s power is not absolute and he has to act on the advice from Council of Ministers headed by Chief Minister.  The same was held by the Supreme Court in Union of India vs ValluriBasavaiah Chaudhary (1979).  The court said that under Articles 175 and 176, the governor can send a message to the house and under Article 174, he can summon, prorogue and dissolve the house but in all these matters he is bound State is bound by the advice of the Council of Ministers. Under Article 175(2), the right of the governor sending messages is related to ‘Bill’, which is different from a ‘resolution of the House’.
The Governor of Arunachal Pradesh could have stayed away from the issue by either asking Nabam Tuki to prove his majority on January 14, 2016, or requesting him to advance the session if there is any urgency. In S.R. Bommai (1994) case, the Supreme Court said that the place to check the majority of the government is the floor of the House, and not the Raj Bhavan. There was no justification for the Arunachal Pradesh Governor’s decision to advance the session. The disqualification of MLAs under anti-defection law is subjected to judicial review but the Deputy Speaker, in hurry, has revoked the disqualification.
The current crisis has led to imposition of President’s rule in the state without giving an adequate opportunity to Nabam Tuki to prove his majority on the floor of the house. The Supreme Court decision to refer the matter to a five-member Constitution bench is a significant step and the decision of the Constitution bench will at least bring the stalemate to an end.

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