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Madras HC: Puducherry L-G Kiran Bedi can’t interfere in day-to-day affairs of govt

The court said that “anarchy attacks the soul of the Constitution and the public interest”, therefore the “Central government, as well as the Administrator, should be true to the concept of democratic principles”.

Holding that Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi “cannot interfere” in the day-to-day affairs of Puducherry’s elected government, the Madras High Court Tuesday ruled that the Lt Governor is bound by the decisions taken by the Council of Ministers in matters which rests with the legislature of Puducherry.

The court said that “anarchy attacks the soul of the Constitution and the public interest”, therefore the “Central government, as well as the Administrator, should be true to the concept of democratic principles”.

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

The ruling was hailed by Chief Minister V Narayanasamy who termed it as “victory” of democracy while Bedi said, “We are examining the judgment.”

Justice R Mahadevan, in his order, said: “…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 court’s ruling came on a plea by K Laksminarayanan, a Congress MLA, who had alleged that Kiran Bedi was running a “parallel government” in Puducherry.

The court also quashed two communications made by the Union Home Ministry in January and June 2017, which it found had effectively undermined the power of the Legislative Assembly and elevated the power of the Administrator, though not exactly available under the applicable laws.

“The elected representatives represent the will of the people. The citizens raise their voice in their election through democratic process. The Government must truly function with national/public interest, be it the elected representatives or the Administrator,” the court said in a 151-page verdict.

It further observed that “elected representatives of the government play a major role in decision making, or else, there would be no purpose in having an elected government, who are the true representatives of the people.”

“Even though technically the Lieutenant Governor is vested with powers to act as Administrator, the power is restricted and applicable only in circumstances explained above. The Administrator cannot interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the Government under the guise of supremacy or public interest, stating technical reasons,” the judge noted.

The court also issued a slew of direction to the administrator including: “The government officials cannot use their personal media to address the grievance of the public. A public redressal forum in the form of official e-mails, telephone numbers are to be circulated and used, if already not put into use.”

The court said that the “decisions of the Council have to be forwarded to the Administrator. The communication is required to enable him/her to exercise his/her power of reference”.

It further said that the Administrator cannot interfere in the day to day affairs of the Government and held that “The decision taken by the Council of Ministers and the Chief Minister is binding on the Secretaries and other officials.”

The order further said: “The Central government, as well as the Administrator, should be true to the concept of democratic principles. Otherwise, the Constitutional Scheme of the country of being democratic and republic, would be defeated…”.

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