New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday engaged with Arunachal Pradesh governor J.P. Rajkhowa’s lawyer over the validity of his decision to advance dates of the state assembly session by almost a month.

By an order dated 9 December, Rajkhowa had asked the assembly session to be advanced from 14 January to 16 December, and asked that a motion for removal of the speaker be taken up first.

Rajkhowa, along with other members of assembly, has argued that the governor’s use of his discretion in doing so is beyond the scrutiny of the court.

The five-judge bench of the apex court hearing the appeals against certain Gauhati high court orders was testing the contours of the governor’s powers, as his notice advancing the date of assembly was something the petitioners, including speaker Nabam Rebia, questioned in the high court.

Lawyer T.R. Andhyarujina, representing Rajkhowa, told the court that he used his discretion because of the “utter chaos" ensuing in the state, as the government had lost its majority.

He said that 21 members of the assembly had written to him to complain about the conduct of chief minister Nabam Tuki.

“You didn’t exercise discretion. Floor test is the answer. Not that you selectively do something," said justice J.S. Khehar, who is heading the bench.

Andhyarujina replied that the uncertainty regarding the role of the speaker, a resolution for whose removal had been moved, pushed him to make a decision.

“The governor had great apprehension that speaker could remove 14 people and create a majority for the Congress government," he said, adding that “From 4 December to 14 January, uncertainty remains. Speaker could exercise 10 schedule (anti-defection) powers to give the chief minister a majority."

The court said that the constitutional course for the governor would likely have been to hold a floor test, or a vote in the house to check if the chief minister and his council of ministers still enjoyed a majority.

The court further inquired if it was the role of the governor to assess what the business of the house should be.

Khehar also asked, “What is more serious? Removal of a Governor or removal of a speaker? They’re are being removed left, right and centre, that’s why we are asking. Under all governments."

The court’s questions come a day after President Pranab Mukherjee advised governors to uphold the sanctity of the Constitution.

The hearing will continue on Thursday.

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