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SCOI scoop: How come SC didn't recall its notice to another governor in November, but on Monday realised Arunachal governor is immune?

Photo by @aparatbar
Photo by @aparatbar

In the ongoing hearing of the challenges to imposition of President’s rule Arunachal Pradesh, the SC constitution bench recalled its notice issued to the state Governor, Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa, when the AG, Mukul Rohatgi, pointed out that the Governor enjoys immunity under the Constitution.

“If we did something wrong, we will correct it,” was how Justice JS Khehar, who presides over the constitution bench, put it, before recalling the notice issued to the Governor inadvertently, as reported by several papers .

The Governor’s counsel, Satya Pal Jain, when told by the bench on 1 February to produce the Governor’s report to the Centre recommending President’s rule within 15 minutes, did not tell the bench that the Governor was immune, and this had erroneously given the impression to the bench that the Governor could be issued notice.

Justice Khehar, therefore, told Jain that if the Governor wanted to join the proceedings on his own, even after the withdrawal of the notice, he could do so.

However, Legally India has found that in the Vyapam case, heard last year, the court not only issued notice to the Madhya Pradesh Governor, Ram Naresh Yadav, but also failed to recall that notice even when his counsel, MN Krishnamani, told the court that he had advised Yadav not to respond.

According to Krishnamani, the court did not insist that he should respond to the notice, but it did not correct its error either by recalling the notice in that case.

The Vyapam case involves investigation by the CBI of 72 cases of irregularities in admissions and recruitment in Madhya Pradesh, and had recorded a series of mysterious deaths of witnesses involved in the cases before CBI took over. According to one report, there were more than 40 mysterious deaths in two years, since the Vyapam scandal came to light.

The state Governor, Ram Naresh Yadav, is one of the accused in the case.

According to Krishnamani, the court routinely sent notices to all the 70-plus respondents, which included Yadav, without realising that he was immune from court proceedings under the Constitution.

In another case involving disqualification of some MLAs in Meghalaya on the ground of holding of office of profit, the chief justice of Meghalaya, Uma Nath Singh, wanted to issue notice to the Governor, V Shanmuganathan, who was seized of the matter.

The MLAs who faced disqualification had challenged it in the high court. Krishnamani, who was also the Governor’s counsel in this case, told the high court that he was immune from the proceedings. The court, thereupon, issued notice to the Governor’s Principal Secretary, to submit the documents required.

Krishnamani then told the high court that what it could not do directly, it could not then do indirectly. The Principal Secretary to the Governor, therefore, did not respond to the notice.

Court allowed counsel to waive notice issued to MP Governor in the Vyapam case - November 2015 order (PDF)

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