CHENNAI: Holding that the Council of Ministers is the supreme body, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Tuesday clipped the extra powers granted to Lieutenant-Governor Kiran Bedi by the Centre. The court’s decision has come as a big boost for the Puducherry government, which has been at loggerheads with Bedi over a wide range of administrative issues.
“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 Centre as well as the Administrator should be true to the concept of democratic principles,” the bench said. “Otherwise, the country’s Constitutional scheme of being democratic and republic would be defeated.”
Justice R Mahadevan further added: “The Administrator (L-G) has no exclusive authority to run the administration in derogation of the constitutional principles and the parliamentary laws governing the issue.” The judge was allowing a writ petition from K Lakshminarayanan, Puducherry MLA and also parliamentary secretary to the Chief Minister, who is directly in charge of the relationship between the Union Territory and the Centre.
He sought to quash the two communications from the Home Ministry, which had allegedly granted more powers to L-G. The judge held that the Union Territory of Puducherry had legislative powers to enact laws with respect to all matters enumerated in the State and Concurrent Lists as per the Constitution.
‘Difference can be referred to Prez, Centre’
The Puducherry legislative body enjoys power similar to that of a ‘State’ and the authority of the Administrator remains intact with regard to exercise of discretion under certain circumstances when the Assembly is not functioning or when a reference is bonafide required.The Administrator is bound by the advice of the Council of Ministers in matters where the Assembly is competent to enact laws though he/she is empowered to differ with the Council based on some rationale which raises a fundamental issue regarding the action of government.
A legitimate and warranted policy decision of the Council after deliberation is expected not to be interfered with... The scope of such difference can utmost end only in a reference to the President or the Central government, and by no stretch of imagination or interpretation, the provisions enable the Administrator to reject any Bill, the judge said.Administrator can do posting of officers under IAS in consonance with Article 320 of the Constitution, the judge said.
Lt Governor said the judgement was being examined, following which a view would be taken. Bedi also cited an earlier judgment of the Madras HC and said “L-G of the UT has powers to act independently”
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on Tuesday said the judgement was a victory for the people of the Union Territory (UT)