The Madras High Court on 11 March, allowed the Central Government’s appeal which challenged the Single Judge’s ruling, which held that the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, Kiran Bedi, cannot interfere with the day-to-day affairs of the Puducherry administration.
The division bench comprising of Chief Justice AP Sahi and Subramonium Prasad has observed that the Single Judge had erred in ruling that the legislative body of the Union Territory of Puducherry enjoys similar powers to that of a ‘State.’
“In our opinion, to foster an opinion that the Legislature of a Union Territory is at par with that of a State Legislature is incorrect,” stated the court.
A petition was filed by the Union of India against the ruling of a single judge bench headed by Justice Mahadevan, who held that the Lieutenant Governor has no powers to interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the elected government saying it would defeat the purpose of the people’s mandate.
The judge Mahadevan has further held in his judgment that a Lieutenant Governor/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 Government of Union Territories Act 1962, though LG is empowered to differ with the views of the Council based on the same rationale which raises a fundamental issue regarding the action of the Government.
However, the Madras High Court’s division bench observed that, when the Constitution has not accorded a status akin to a State for Puducherry, the Single judge ought not to have done so in his ruling.
“For the time being, there is no such law which may equate or put them at par, except for the areas for which the Constitution itself provides that the legislatures of the Union Territories shall be empowered to discharge such functions that are at par with the State Legislatures. The job of the Court is to define the law and not to create a status which otherwise is not enjoyed by the Union Territory,” asserted the court.