Lt Governor Kiran Bedi can’t interfere with Puducherry govt: Madras HC
Kiran Bedi has been engaged in a running feud with Puducherry chief Minister V Narayansamy since she assumed office in May 2016.Updated: May 01, 2019 00:17 IST
The Madras High Court on Tuesday ruled that the Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi cannot interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the elected government, headed by chief minister V Narayanasamy. It also said that the LG is bound by the advice of the council of ministers, and quashed two notifications of the Centre that placed her above the elected government in matters of governance. LG Bedi has been at loggerheads with the Congress government in Puducherry, with the latter accusing her of taking unilateral decisions without consulting it. The National Capital Territory of Delhi, where the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is in power, had faced a similar situation and the case had reached the top court.
“The Administrator cannot interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the Government. The decision taken by the Council of Ministers and the Chief Minister is binding on the Secretaries and other officials... The Administrator has no exclusive authority to run the administration in derogation of the Constitutional Principles and Parliamentary Laws governing the issue,” Justice R Mahadevan said in his verdict.
The court was disposing off a petition filed by Puducherry Chief Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary, K Lakshminarayanan, challenging two notifications of the Centre, saying that the LG had overriding powers over the elected government.
Drawing heavily on the Supreme Court verdict on the powers of the elected government in Delhi and the LG, Justice Mahadevan said: “The authority of the legislative Assembly of the Union Territory created by an enactment of Parliament in conformity with the constitutional powers cannot be undermined or subdued… the scope and authority of the Administrator in legislative matters is limited even in matters where the administrator exercises discretion…”
“A legitimate and warranted policy decision of the Council after much deliberation is expected not to be interfered with,” the Judge said, making it clear that in case difference persists even after constructive discussions, the LG could not sit on the files but refer to the President.
The judgment said that although a union territory, Puducherry enjoys similar power to that of a ‘State”. Further, it clears the cloud over who has a final say in service matters with the exception of posting of Indian Administrative Service officers. Also, officials have been barred from using social media for official communications.
“In so far as service conditions are concerned, it shall vest with the Administrative head of the Department, viz., the particular Minister,” the high court said in its order
Following the HC verdict, the ruling Congress has claimed moral victory. CM Narayanasamy said this was an indictment of the autocratic functioning of the LG.
“Ever since Bedi arrived here as the LG, she has been creating problems for the government on one pretext or the other. She was acting in tandem with Prime Minister Modi to destabilise the government. Now that the High Court verdict has upheld our stand, Bedi should apologise to the people of Puducherry for thwarting developmental and welfare programmes at every step,” the CM told reporters.
The DMK, an ally of the Congress, also welcomed the judgment, saying it would help strengthening of representative and participatory politics in the union territory. Bedi, who is yet to react to the development, is discussing the matter with her legal team before proceeding further, officials said.
The BJP said they were yet to study the judgment. Meanwhile, welcoming the HC judgment, AAP said the “only solution” to end the decades-old “injustice” to Delhi and Puducherry is to grant them full statehood.
“The July 4 Supreme Court constitution bench judgement and today’s Madras High Court verdict, in unambiguous terms, make it clear that the L-Gs are bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers,” said AAP’s national spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj.