Tamil Nadu

Stand-off between Kiran Bedi, Cabinet bad news for U.T.: HC

Judges hope the differences of opinion will be resolved amicably

The Madras High Court on Thursday expressed serious concern over a series of disagreements between the Council of Ministers and the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) of Puducherry Kiran Bedi resulting in many litigations before the court. The court said: “The repeated stand-off/acrimony between the said two high constitutional functionaries may not augur well for the governance of the Union Territory, especially the people.”

A Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and R. Hemalatha made the observations while dismissing a case filed by Local Administration Minister A. Namassivayam challenging the L-G’s decision to reject a decision taken by the Cabinet to appoint T.M. Balakrishnan as the State Election Commissioner and instead fill up the post through a selection committee by calling for applications from across the country.

Right decision

It held that the appointment of Mr. Balakrishnan was not in consonance with the rules and that there was nothing wrong in L-G’s decision to follow a transparent mechanism to fill up the post. However, observing that the Cabinet as well as the L-G must also be aware of the consequences of frequent disagreements between them, the judges said: “This court hopes and trusts that whatever be the reasons for the difference of opinion, they will be resolved amicably.”

The judges pointed out that Section 9A(1) of the Puducherry Village and Commune Panchayats Act of 1973 states that the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for the conduct of all elections to the panchayats shall be vested in the Election Commission consisting of an Election Commissioner to be appointed by the Administrator (L-G) and laid emphasis on the word Administrator used in the legislation.

Further, Section 9A(2) of the Act states that subject to the provisions of any law made by the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory, the conditions of service and tenure of office of the Election Commissioner shall be such as the Administrator may by rule determine and pointed out that the appointment of Mr. Balakrishnan had not been approved by the L-G and therefore such appointment could not be sustained in law.

In so far as the L-G’s decision to constitute a selection committee headed by the Chief Secretary and invite applications for the post through an all India advertisement was concerned, the judges pointed out that her decision had been approved by the Union Home Ministry. They also held that the decision taken by the L-G was perfectly in consonance with the Constitutional and statutory provisions applicable to Puducherry.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 1:31:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/stand-off-between-kiran-bedi-cabinet-bad-news-for-ut-hc/article30994671.ece

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