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In the turf war between the elected government of Puducherry and Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi, the Supreme Court has restrained the former from implementing any cabinet decisions that might have financial implications.
The Vacation Bench of Justices Indu Malhotra and MR Shah also made Chief Minister of Puducherry V Narayanasamy a party to the case and issued notice.
Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi had moved the Supreme Court for urgent hearing of an application praying for status quo ante prior to the Madras High Court order dated April 30. Today, Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, arguing for the LG, submitted,
“Method of administration is becoming such that is not permitted by law. It’s not a simple matter about interface between trivial entities.”
The Court pointed out that notice can be issued today without granting any interim relief until a response from the respondents is sought. At this point, ASG Atmaram Nadkarni submitted that the powers of the government only with respect to cabinet decisions having financial implications may be considered by the Court today. He said,
“We are aggrieved mainly by financial issues…All I’m saying is don’t take major financial decisions till the SLP is decided… There are some land transfers etc., we are praying that those not be given effect to.”
In this regard, the Court granted the limited relief of directing the Puducherry government to not implement cabinet decisions that would have financial implications till further orders.
This interim relief was faced with objections from Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for the original writ petitioners. He argued,
“There is no affidavit or any grounds mentioned based on which they are saying that these items should not be implemented.”
However, the Court clarified that the relief granted today was on a very limited aspect and the same shall be in force until the next date of hearing, which is June 21.
In an order passed on April 30, the Madras High Court had held that the elected government of the Union Territory generally assumes supremacy over the Lieutenant Governor. The High Court, therefore, quashed two communications made by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in January and June 2017, which the Court 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.
More recently, Bedi approached the Supreme Court praying for maintenance of status quo prior to the Madras High Court order that curtailed her administrative powers.
Read the Order: