The locking of Arunachal Pradesh Assembly premises compelling thirty three legislators to hold a meeting at a make-shift venue, Techi Takar Community Hall, is reminiscent a significant event in the early days of the French Revolution.

The Third Estate (commoners) were locked out of the meeting of the Estates General (comprising the clergy, nobles and commoners). They then congregated at an indoor tennis court where they took the oath “not to separate and to reassemble wherever circumstances require until the constitution of the kingdom is established.” The pledge is known as Tennis Court Pledge and was intended to convey that political authority was derived from the people not the monarch.

Whatever the grievance the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh may have to the preponing of the session of the Assembly in locking the Assembly premises, the Chief Minister and Speaker behaved more like Kings rather than a constitutional functionaries.

Co-incidentally, the Estates General (from which the Commoners were locked out), like the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly which did not meet within the requisite time, was itself convened after a long lapse of time.In its meeting, again as in the case of Arunachal Pradesh Assembly, there was a dispute about the procedure to be followed in the meeting. And locking out lead eventually to Storming of Bastille – a prison which was a symbol of abuse of monarchy and ignited the French revolution. The equivalent of the “storming” is imposition of the President’s Rule in the instant case.

It is indeed a coincidence that we had the French Premier as our chief-guest on the day President’s Rule was imposed on Arunachal Pradesh.

I will take the usual banal comments of “murder of democracy” with a pinch of salt. The locking of the Assembly is a direct attack on a parliamentary system which has been recognised as a wholesome constitutional value. Coupled with the delay between two sessions of the Assembly it also clearly indicates a method of governance independent of the control of the constitution – unknown to our constitutional scheme – and consequential lapse into lawlessness which is the breakdown contemplated by Article 356. And the use of proceedings in court first to delay proving majority on the floor of the house and thereafter to insulate itself against any action warranted by subsequent conduct no matter how egregious it might be is itself subversion of the Constitution attacking as it does both democratic spirit and the conventions underlying the Constitution.




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