Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice on a petition filed by Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi seeking status quo prior to the April 30 judgment of the Madras High Court ruling that the LG could not interfere in the day to day administration of the elected government, The Bench has also directed that any decision having financial implication, which could be taken in the cabinet meeting of June 7 in Puducherry, shall not be implemented till June 21.
Besides issuing notice thereon, the vacation bench headed by Justice Indu Malhotra also impleaded the CM of the UT in the matter. Initially, the bench, also comprising Justice M. R. Shah, was reluctant to grant an interlocutory relief without hearing the government, as Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, for Congress MLA K. Laksminarayanan, pointed out that the absence of an affidavit and the lack of clarity as to why certain decisions were not to implemented.
The Centre’s law officers, on the other hand, voiced concerns over the impropriety of the administration in the state, praying that a stay may be allowed atleast as to financial decisions. Though special leave petition was filed against the Madras HC judgment, the SC on May 10 merely issued notice in the petition, without any order of stay or status quo. In the application filed today, it is stated that the Chief Minister of Pudcherry has issued administrative orders on the basis of the HC judgment, contrary to the Rules of Business of Union Territories. “The officers are in a quandry as to whether to implement the directions of the Hon’ble High Court or otherwise. That the officers are being threatened of contempt action is leading to an administrative chaos, hence the urgency”, the application states. In the petition filed by Puducherry MLA K Lakshminarayanan, the High Court Division Bench had held “The Administrator is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers in matters where the Legislative Assembly is competent to enact laws as contemplated under Section 44 of the Government of Union Territories Act, 1962 though she is empowered to differ with the views of the Council based on some rationale which raises a fundamental issue regarding the action of the Government”. “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 the Secretaries and other officials.”, added the High Court, holding that the Administrator has no exclusive authority to run the administration negating the Constitutional Principles and the Parliamentary Laws governing the issue. The present application for status quo states that the High Court judgment has in effect equated Puducherry to a ‘State’ and the Lieutenant Governor to a Governor. The High Court did not take into consideration the greater discretionary powers enjoyed by the Lieutenant Governor in relation to a Union Territory, adds the application. Since the SC has admitted the SLP, status quo ante ought to have been ordered to maintain balance of convenience, contends the application.