The Supreme Court Friday extended its earlier order till July 10, restraining the Puducherry government from implementing any cabinet decisions having financial implications.
A vacation bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant said that the issue requires to be heard at length and therefore it is listing the plea before a regular bench.
“These matters need to be heard on regular basis and we, therefore, adjourn for hearing on July 10, 2019, along with all interim applications. The interim directions to continue till the next date,” the bench said.
Puducherry government told the apex court that it has taken three cabinet decisions–distribution of free rice to all ration card holders in the Union Territory, renaming a department and auctioning of a sick factory.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Puducherry government, said out of these three decisions taken, free distribution of rice to all ration card holders can be allowed as the scheme has been running for the last ten years.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi, said the scheme cannot be allowed as it will be a modification of an earlier order and has a huge financial implication.
He said earlier free rice was distributed to only BPL (below poverty line) card holders but now the Puducherry government in its populist move wants to give free rice to all the ration card holders.
The top court had on June 4 directed the Puducherry government, led by Chief Minister V Narayanasamy who is at loggerheads with Bedi, not to implement any decision, having financial implications, that may be taken at the Cabinet meeting of in the June 7.
The application filed by the Centre and Bedi had sought a direction for restoring the situation prevailing before the April 30 Madras High Court verdict which held that the LG “cannot interfere” in the day-to-day affairs of the elected government in the Union Territory.
The Centre and the LG had contended that if the situation prevailing before the high court’s verdict was not restored, the UT administration was likely to come to a standstill.
The bench had then said, “Till the next date of hearing of the present application, it is directed that any decision in the Cabinet meeting to be convened on June 7, 2019 having financial implication/implications or with respect to any transfer of the lands shall not be implemented.”
“However, it shall be without prejudice to the rights and contentions in the main special leave petition as well as in the present application”.
On May 10, the apex court had sought response from Congress MLA K Laksminarayanan, on whose petition the high court had delivered the April 30 verdict, on the pleas filed by the Centre and Bedi.
On April 30, the Madras High Court had allowed a plea filed by Laksminarayanan and set aside the two communications issued in January and June 2017 by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs “elevating” the powers of the administrator.
Referring to the Supreme Court judgement on the tussle between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt Governor Anil Baijal, the high court had said that restrictions imposed on government of Delhi are not applicable to the government of Puducherry.
“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 secretaries and other officials,” it had said.
Laksminarayanan had claimed in his plea before the high court that the administrator was interfering in the day-to-day administration of the territorial government, its policies and programmes.