MHA overrules Puducherry government’s decision to appoint former bureaucrat as SEC

It vested the power to finalise the composition and terms of reference of the Selection Committee to choose SEC with the Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi.

Published - December 21, 2019 03:29 pm IST - PUDUCHERRY

In a setback to the ruling Congress, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has directed the government to start afresh the appointment of State Election Commissioner (SEC) and vested the power to finalise the composition and terms of reference of the Selection Committee to choose SEC with the Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi.

The MHA decision has come against the government’s decision in July this year to appoint former bureaucrat T. M Balakakrishnan following a ruling given by Speaker V. P Sivakolundhu cancelling the advertisement calling for applications for the post of SEC. The Speaker had directed the cabinet to appoint the SEC with immediate effect.

The Speaker had given the ruling after legislators belonging to ruling party, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam complained to the house that the advertisement was floated at the behest of the Lt Governor. According to the legislators the advertisement was floated with the intent to recruit a ‘particular person.’

The Lt Governor, however, did not accept the decision of the government to appoint Mr Balakrishnan and referred the issue to MHA.

In response to the Lt Governor’s objection to the cabinet decision, Advisor, Union Territory, MHA, Jitendra Agarwal in a communication to Chief Secretary Ashwani Kumar two days ago said “the government should select the State Election Commissioner through a transparent, competitive and fair process where the applications are invited through an all India advertisement and is made through a Selection Committee headed by Chief Secretary, for the timely completion of election process.”

As per the MHA communication, the terms and reference of the Selection Committee should be finalised by the Lt Governor.

However, the communication did not mention about the appointment made by the government based on a ruling given by the Assembly Speaker.

When contact, Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy said he would respond after going through the communication.

According to a highly-placed source, the government will wait to see the response of MHA on its stand on the ruling given by the Speaker. “We will like to know whether the MHA had made the ruling of Speaker null and void. Let them make it clear,” he said.

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