The Madras High Court on Friday reserved its order on the appeals moved by the Centre and Puducherry L-G Kiran Bedi challenging an earlier order stating that she has no power to interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the Union territory's government. Recording the final arguments put forth by all the parties, the first bench of Chief Justice A P Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad said they are reserving the order.
Additional Solicitor General of India Aman Lekhi, senior advocates Arvind Datar and A L Somayaji appeared for the central government and Bedi.
Original petitioner Puducherry legislator K Lakshminarayanan was represented by senior advocates G Masilamani and V T Gopalan. The issue pertains to a plea moved by Lakshminarayanan of the Congress party challenging the communications from the Union Home Ministry vesting powers on the lieutenant governor.
In his petition, he cited instances of interference in the government's day-to-day affairs by the lieutenant governor, including forcing government officials to join WhatsApp groups, interfering in financial matters, holding review meeting with officials. Allowing the plea, a single judge of the court observed that the elected government functioning through a council of ministers could not be defeated by the acts of an administrator who is also functioning under the provisions of the Constitution.
The judge held that the powers of the lieutenant governor to act as an administrator are restricted and applicable only in certain circumstances.
Challenging the order, the Union Home Ministry had said the single judge had erred in holding that the writ petitioner had locus standi to move such plea.
"The proceedings in the writ petition are in the nature of clarification to the communication given by the Union Home Ministry to the government of Puducherry. When the government has not questioned the communication as illegal, it is not open to a private individual to question the internal communication," it said.