Puducherry Lt Governor Kiren Bedi on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the order of a single judge of the Madras High Court that she should not interfere with day-to-day administration and should go by the advice of the Council of Ministers.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Ms. Bedi made a ‘mention’ for urgent listing of the petition before a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta for early listing of the appeal. The bench agreed to consider the request as Ms. Bedi submitted that the administration of Puducherry had been severely affected as a result of the judgment.
Ms Bedi said though a writ appeal ought to have been filed against the order of the single judge in the high court, she had come to the apex court as the high court is closed for summer vacation and there is urgency in this matter.
She said an important question of law has arisen in this appeal, viz whether the Union Territory of Puducherry can be considered as a `State’ under the Constitution when the apex court had categorically ruled that Puducherry continued to be a Union Territory. The High Court,, she pointed out had set aside the notifications issued in relation to the powers of the Lt. Governor.
Further she wanted the court to decide whether LG of Puducherry was bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers despite there being a clear mandate to the contrary in the Union Territories Act of 1963, whether UT of Delhi and UT of Puducherry can be treated alike despite the fact that the apex court had held that they fell in different categories.
She pointed out that the High Court had erroneously held that Puducherry was akin to a State and the Lt Governor was bound to act as per the aid and advice of the Council of ministers. She said such a finding was incorrect as Puducherry continued to be a Union Territory under the Constitution.
Drawing a distinction between the Union Territory of Delhi and Puducherry, Ms. Bedi said the Lt. Governor of Puducherry has far more powers than the LG of Delhi. She prayed for setting aside the High Court judgment and an interim stay of its operation.
The Congress Government of Chief Minister N Narayanaswamy is sure to implead itself to challenge Bedi’s main submission that single judge R Mahadevant had erroneously equated the Union Territory of New Delhi with Puducherry while clipping the wings of the Lt Governor.
The single judge did make a distinction in his order of April 19. He said:” The apex court has clearly said there is a distinction between the National Capital Territory of Delhi and Puducherry”.He said Article 239 AAA imposed severe restrictions on the Delhi legislature whereas no such restriction has been imposed explicitly in the case of Puducherry.
"The above article symbolises the supremacy of the legislature above the Administrator (Lt Governor) in the case of the Union Territory of Puducherry.Therefore, the Lt Governor should go by the advice of the Council of Ministers and the Secretaries should report to the elected Government, the judge held.