The judgement of a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court that the Delhi Lt Governor has no power independent of the Council of Ministers except in special areas has resonated in the Union Territory of Puducherry and in Tamil Nadu where overactive Lt Governor and Governor are allegedly misruled. The Supreme Court today clarified that Puducherry cannot be compared with the case of Delhi as it is governed by a provision which is different from that concerning the national capital.
The apex court itself has said that the case of Puducherry even stands on a different footing from the Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep and Chandigarh. It has said Puducherry is covered under Article 239A whereas NCT of Delhi is covered under Article 239AA.
In simple words, it means that Delhi being a national capital region, it has been vested with special powers under Art 299AA. However, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy says the Supreme Court ruling is applicable in principle as he is also an elected Chief Minister like Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal and he is also saddled with a meddlesome Lt Governor Kiran Bedi .
He also said that he will initiate contempt proceedings against Bedi if she does not stops interfering in the administration. The Puducherry Government has already filed a petition in the Madras High Court against the interference in the administration by Kiran Bedi.
He cites the specific observation of the Supreme Court that the Lt Governor should not be an “obstructionist”. That is what Kiran Bedi has been, he argues. He has also told officials not to attend review meetings called by Kiran Bedi or take orders from her.
The Supreme Court has held that the Delhi Lt Governor has some special powers limited to law, police and public order. Otherwise, he is only a nominal administrative head and he has to go by the advice of the Council of Ministers. In an indirect advice to Kejriwal, the court has also said Delhi is not a State but a Union Territory and the elected government has to inform the Lt Governor of all administrative matters, but his concurrence is not necessary.
When the Lt Governor of Delhi is held to have only limited powers, the Governor of a full-fledged State like Tamil Nadu has even more limited discretionary powers and Governor Banwarilal Purohit should take note, Leader of the Opposition and DMK working president M K Stalin has said while welcoming the Supreme Court ruling.
When the DMK held black flag demonstrations against Purohit and Stalin led a march on the Raj Bhavan, the Governor threatened action under Sec 124 of the IPC under which anyone hindering the Governor from discharging his duties as per the Constitution can be sent to jail up to seven years. It remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court ruling will have a sobering effect on Banwarilal Purohit.