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3-min read

Big Win for Puducherry CM as Court Rules Against L-G Kiran Bedi’s Interference in Govt's Day-to-day Affairs

Hailing the judgement, CM Narayanasamy, who has been at loggerheads with Bedi over various issues, said the court order was "historic and demonstrates the victory of democracy."

Poornima Murali | CNN-News18

Updated:April 30, 2019, 5:05 PM IST
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Chennai: In a big win for Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasami, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday quashed the Centre’s 2017 order on the Lieutenant Governor’s power and said the latter could neither interfere nor act independently, except on the advice of the Council of Ministers.

The order was in response to a writ petition filed by Puducherry Congress MLA Lakshminarayanan in 2017 questioning L-G Kiran Bedi’s powers to interfere in the day-to-day administration despite the presence of a council of ministers.

Justice R Mahadevan set aside the two communications issued in January and June 2017 by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs “elevating” the power of the administrator.

Referring to the Supreme Court judgement on the tussle between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt Governor Anil Baijal, the judge said restrictions imposed on the government of Delhi are not applicable to the government of Puducherry.

“The apex court has clearly held that there is a distinction between the National Capital Territory of Delhi and Puducherry,” the judge said.

Though Puducherry was not a state, the Legislative Assembly would have the same powers as that of a state, he said.

Hailing the judgement, Narayanasamy, who has been at loggerheads with Bedi over various issues, said the court order was "historic and demonstrates the victory of democracy."

The power tussle between Bedi and Narayansamy intensified last year after the chief minister launched a six-day agitation against the alleged interference in state policies.

This was after Bedi insisted on making helmets mandatory for two-wheeler riders in Puducherry. Besides, the chief minister also claimed that the 39 government schemes were pending with the L-G.

He also received support from his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal, who said Delhi was facing a similar situation. Narayanasamy had accused Bedi of working on the Centre’s orders to disrupt the functioning of his government.

The HC order read, “The government of Puducherry is a constituent elected body constituted by a Council of Ministers. When the Council of Ministers is not able to take a decision in certain policy issues, then the supervisory power vested with the administrator comes into operation by which the administrator can decide the issue and that too, with the accent of the President, without causing any detriment to the interest of the elected body, because the executive government is formed according to the will and wish of the people by way of conducting elections, and that is prime in nature. Thus, the elected government functioning through the Council of Ministers, cannot be defeated by the act of the administrator who is also functioning under the provisions of the Constitution, by way of interfering in the day to day affairs of the government and calling for each and every officer to the residence of the administrator and running a parallel government.”

The high court said that Bedi did not have the power to interfere with the day-to-day activities of the Union Territory.

“The administrator is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers in matters where the Legislative Assembly is competent to enact laws as contemplated under Section 44 of the Government of Union Territories Act, 1962, though she is empowered to differ with the views of the council based on some rationale which raises a fundamental issue regarding the action of the government. A legitimate and warranted policy decision of the council after deliberation is expected not to be interfered with,” said the order.

Bedi told News 18 her team was examining the judgement after which the next course of action would be taken.

“We are examining the judgement after which we shall take a view. Meanwhile, this being the election season, the Model Code of Conduct is in place. Files which require the Lt Governor’s approval, such as service matters, promotions, appointments, disciplinary matters and financial sanctions for grants-in-aid are being received and being examined and cleared on merits of each case. The weekly disposal is also placed on record as was the earlier practice,” Bedi told News 18.com

She further said, “I wish Puducherry well. Its people deserve the best. The Union Territory needs utmost integrity, accountability and careful financial managment to save it from running into a debt trap. Most of all, people of Puducherry deserve quick decision making with accessible governance.”

Narayanasami said, “Everybody has to abide by the High Court order. I can only comment

The feud between Bedi and Narayanasami had started in 2017 and since then, it has only intensified.

(With inputs from PTI)

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