NEW DELHI -- In a big blow to BJP and the Centre, the Supreme Court today ordered restoration of Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh by quashing as "unconstitutional" Governor's decision to advance the Legislative Assembly session by a month in December last year.
The apex court's verdict paves the way for the dismissed Congress government of Nabam Tuki to return to power and sets aside Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa's message directing the manner of holding the proceedings of sixth session of the Assembly scheduled from 14 January, 2016 to 16-18 December, 2015.
In its landmark unanimous verdict, a five judge constitution bench, headed by Justice J S Khehar, ordered that status quo ante as prevailed on 15 December, 2015 be restored in Arunachal Pradesh Assembly.
It held that all steps and decisions taken by Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly in pursuance to the Governor's order of 9 December, 2015, are unsustainable.
The Nabam Tuki-led government was dismissed following days of turmoil after 21 of the 47 Congress MLAs rebelled against the chief minister. Arunachal Pradesh was placed under President's Rule on 26 January.
Just before the apex court had reserved its verdict on 20 February this year, rebel Congress leader Kalikho Pul was sworn in as Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh with the support of 18 dissident Congress MLAs and two independents and 11 BJP MLAs who gave outside support in the 60-member Assembly.
Besides Justice Khehar, other members of the bench were Justices Dipak Misra, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and N V Ramana.
Today's verdict comes as a shot in the arm for Congress in months with Arunachal Pradesh becoming the second state after Uttarakhand where the party-ruled government was restored by the apex court.
Welcoming the verdict, Tuki said it was "historic" and that it has protected democracy and ensuring justice.
"The Supreme Court verdict today is a historic. It paves way to protect healthy democracy in the country," Tuki, who was the Chief Minister of Arunachal before his government was brought down, said.