Maintain status quo before Madras HC order, Puducherry LG Kiran Bedi moves Supreme Court

Maintain status quo before Madras HC order, Puducherry LG Kiran Bedi moves Supreme Court

Shruti Mahajan

Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi has approached the Supreme Court praying for maintenance of status quo prior to the Madras High Court order that curtailed her administrative powers.

The retired IPS officer has contended in her application that an appeal against the High Court’s order was admitted by the Supreme Court on May 10, and propriety demanded that status quo ante ought to have been maintained in light of the same. The application states,

“Pursuant to the order dated 10.05.2019, propriety demanded that status quo ante as it existed prior to the impugned judgment dated 30.04.2019 having been passed, be maintained. However it was not to be.”

In the application, Kiran Bedi contends that officers in Puducherry are being threatened of contempt action and a state of confusion has prevailed where the officers are in doubt regarding whether or not to implement the High Court’s orders.

This state of “administrative chaos” manifesting from the threat of contempt is the reason for the urgency of the matter, the application states. It adds,

“Rule of law is at peril under the threat of contempt.”

Bedi had moved the Supreme Court earlier in May challenging the judgment of the Madras High Court. The Union of India had filed a separate special leave petition on similar lines, in which the Supreme Court had issued notice on May 10.

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.

The High Court’s decision had incapacitated the LG’s office from exercising its mandate as provided for under Article 239, Bedi has submitted. Referring to the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 and the Rules of Business of the Government of Puducherry, 1963, the application states,

“The final order of the impugned judgment, however, contradicts, contravenes and is opposed to the statutory Act and Rules.”

It is further stated,

“The Hon’ble High Court has equated the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry to the Lieutenant Governor of National Capital Territory of Delhi despite the fact that the former has greater discretionary power and has a special responsibility towards the Union Territory of Puducherry and is under the over arching control of the President.”

Upon mentioning the matter for urgent hearing today, the Vacation Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Aniruddha Bose agreed to list the matter next week.

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