SC defers hearing to July 10 in Puducherry power tussle case

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The Supreme Court on Friday deferred the hearing in the case regarding power struggle between the Lieutenant Governor (LG) and the elected government of the Union Territory of Puducherry to July 10.

After a brief hearing, the vacation bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant posted the matter to July 10 on the pleas filed by the Centre and Puducherry LG Kiran Bedi who had challenged the Madras High Court order, which curbed her power not to interfere in the day-to-day administration.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Congress-led Puducherry government, said in the court that the Cabinet had taken three decisions in the meeting, including distribution of free rice to ration card holders, and it may be allowed to continue so as it has been doing so for the last 10 years.

Appearing for the Centre and Bedi, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended that there is no objection to the distribution of rice to persons below the poverty line.

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On June 4, amid a tussle between Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and LG Kiran Bedi over administration in the Union Territory, the top court had directed the elected government not to implement any decision involving financial implications or transfer of officials.

The court’s interim order had come on an application filed by Bedi seeking interim direction for maintaining status quo as it existed before the Madras High Court order which curtailed her authority to act independently of the elected government.

The application filed by Bedi said that propriety demanded that status quo prior to Madras High Court curtailing her powers ought to have been maintained once the apex court issues notice on the same, which was not done.

“Pursuant to the order dated May 10, 2019 propriety demanded that status quo ante as it existed prior to the impugned judgment dated April 30, 2019, having been passed, be maintained. However it was not to be,” it stated.

On May 10, the apex court had issued a notice to Congress MLA K Laksminarayanan, on whose plea the High Court had passed the judgement on April 30 and others on Centre and Kiran Bedi’s appeals.

The top court had refused to stay the High Court order. On April 30, the High Court had asked Bedi not to interfere in the day-to-day administration of the Union Territory, especially when an elected government is in place.

Acting on the petition filed by Congress lawmaker K Lakshminarayanan, the Madras High Court had ruled that the Lieutenant Governor does not have rights to interfere in the daily affairs of the elected government and pressed that incessant interference from her would amount to “running a parallel government”.

In his petition before the High Court, the lawmaker had sought quashing of two clarifications issued by the Union Home Ministry regarding powers of the Lieutenant Governor. Bedi, in her defence, contended that the governance in the Union Territory came to a standstill following the order limiting her powers.

Both Bedi and Narayanasamy have had locked horns over administrative issues since the former top cop took office in 2016, with the Congressman even staging a sit-in outside Raj Niwas in protest over the Lieutenant Governor’s decisions.

(With inputs from ANI)

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