Puducherry Power Battle Reaches Court

BJP leader Kiran Bedi addresses press

The Puducherry government plans to approach the courts to settle the issue of powers of the Chief Minister of the Union Territory vis-a-vis the Lt Governor, giving a new twist to the raging battle of power between incumbent Chief Minister M.V. Narayanasamy and Lt Governor Kiran Bedi….writes V.S. Chandrasekar

Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi

Sources said the government may approach the Madras High Court on the lines of a similar action taken by the Aam Admi Party (AAP) government in Delhi in the battle between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and former Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, before he quit last year. If the High Court does not rule in its favour, then the Union Territory with state assembly may approach the Supreme Court, the sources said.

Narayanasamy, who has met President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh earlier and complained to them about Bedi’s “overreach”, says he plans to meet Modi again and discuss the issue with him.

“I will meet the Prime Minister and tell him about her activities,” he said.

Asked what the Centre’s attitude was regarding his complaints about Bedi, Narayanasamy said: “The Centre is not supporting her nor encouraging her. She is doing what she is doing on her own.”

Contending that the Constitutional provision in Art 239, 239(A) and 240 provides the road map for governance of the Union Territory of Puducherry, under which the Governor has no role in the day-to-day administration of the government, Narayanasamy said that Law and Order and Services of the government rest with the elected government in Puducherry.

In the National Capital Territory of Delhi, these issues lie with the Government of India and the Home Ministry.

New Delhi: Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy calls on the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in New Delhi on Dec 9, 2016. (Photo: IANS/PIB) by .
Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy calls on the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in New Delhi (Photo: IANS/PIB)

He said in Chapter 3 of the Business Rules, on the state list the Lt Governor acts on the aid and advice of the council of ministers. As far as Chapter 4 (concurrent list) is concerned, the Lt Governor is to take decisions in consultation with the Chief Minister. Under Chapter 5 of the Business Rules, on the central list, the Government of India has powers.

“What the LG is doing is to interfere in the day-to-day administration of the government,” Narayanasamy said, citing examples of her surprise field visits to constituencies and talk about the local problems like water and sanitation which, he contended, is the job of the elected government and MLAs.

“It is primarily the job of the minister concerned. But she issues orders like executive about on-going schemes and order officials without the knowledge of the minister concerned or the Chief Minister,” he said.

“She is also not returning the files sent by the Chief Minister for waiver of cooperative loans and free education for Dalit students, increasing freedom fighters pension and free power to farmers, all coming under my jurisdiction and all promises made during election,” Narayanasamy said.

He said she was also writing to the Central Bureau of Investigation and Central Vigilance Commission on administrative issues alleging corruption.

Recently, the Chief Minister said, Bedi wrote to the National Green Tribunal seeking punishment for officials in the matter of a project relating to segregation of garbage. “The NGT had wanted removal of garbage. After some complaints were made, the judge hearing the case recused,” he said.

The Chief Minister claimed that the Election Commission had reprimanded her for violating the Model Code of Conduct during the byelection in his constituency Nellithope. It was curious, he said, that the Lt Governor wanted to “punish” her own government.

“I have brought all this to the notice of the President, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. They have promised that they will go into the matter,” he said.