Par­al­lel power

The Supreme Court rul­ing cur­tail­ing the pow­ers of the Lieu­tenant Gover­nor has done lit­tle to stop Ki­ran Bedi from be­ing a law unto her­self and in­ter­fer­ing in the day-to-day func­tion­ing of the gov­ern­ment of Puducherry.

FrontLine - - COVER STORY - BY R.K.RAD­HAKR­ISH­NAN

THE SUPREME COURT OR­DER ON THE sta­tus of the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory (NCT) has had no ef­fect on former IPS of­fi­cer and Lieu­tenant Gover­nor (L.G.) of Puducherry Ki­ran Bedi, who runs a par­al­lel administration in Puducherry by­pass­ing the elected gov­ern­ment.

On July 8, for in­stance, Ki­ran Bedi was in Kalapet to study ground­wa­ter-re­lated is­sues. Ac­cord­ing to The Hindu, one of the many de­ci­sions taken on the spot was to seek the help of the Cen­tral Ground Wa­ter Board (CGWB) to map the wa­ter level in the deep aquifer in the area. Ki­ran Bedi, who was the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Chief Min­is­te­rial can­di­date in the 2015 NCT elec­tions and lost badly, was at Kalapet be­cause of con­cerns over ground­wa­ter.

Lo­cal politi­cians are not pleased. “If there is no wa­ter in an area, where will the peo­ple rush to make a com­plaint?” asked a lo­cal politi­cian. “He or she will ask a councillor or the lo­cal MLA. Why is the L.G. in­ter­fer­ing even in this?” he won­dered.

Chief Min­is­ter V. Narayanasamy says there are many in­stances of Ki­ran Bedi in­ter­fer­ing in the day-to-day administration of the gov­ern­ment of Puducherry. “The Supreme Court in its judg­ment has cat­e­gor­i­cally held that the Lieu­tenant Gover­nor has to act as per the aid and ad­vice of the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters. This is ap­pli­ca­ble to Puducherry UT,” he said (see in­ter­view).

The Chief Min­is­ter says that he had tried to dis­cuss the is­sue with the L.G. over the years, with lit­tle suc­cess. Fi­nally, on July 7, he wrote a three-page let­ter telling her that she “can­not usurp the pow­ers of the Min­is­ter in­charge of a depart­ment” and that she “has no pow­ers to uni­lat­er­ally in­ter­vene in the af­fairs of the gov­ern­ment de­part­ments.”

The Chief Min­is­ter made it clear to the L.G. that she had no right to call for re­view meet­ings of gov­ern­ment de­part­ments. “If you re­quire any clar­i­fi­ca­tion on any file, you may call the Sec­re­tary con­cerned. When Sec­re­taries are called for clar­i­fi­ca­tions on any file, the Sec­re­tary con­cerned shall, in the first in­stance, bring the same to the notice of the Min­is­ter in-charge for in­puts and ad­vice. Only af­ter fac­tor­ing such in­puts and ad­vice, the Sec­re­tary con­cerned shall meet you [L.G.] for of­fer­ing clar­i­fi­ca­tions as may be re­quired by you on files. While you have ev­ery right to visit any place, you can­not is­sue any or­der/ di­rec­tion on the spot to the of­fi­cers for im­me­di­ate im­ple­men­ta­tion as it would be in vi­o­la­tion of the pro­vi­sions of ‘Rules of Busi­ness of Gov­ern­ment of Puducherry, 1963’…Un­der no cir­cum­stances you have pow­ers to uni­lat­er­ally call meet­ings, is­sue di­rec­tions to of­fi­cers etc… The Hon’ble Supreme Court, in its judg­ment had cat­e­gor­i­cally held that the Lieu­tenant Gover­nor has not been en­trusted with any in­de­pen­dent de­ci­sion mak­ing pow­ers…”, the let­ter said.

In fact, the Chief Min­is­ter had even is­sued an or­der on May 8, 2018 (Stand­ing Or­der No.1 of 2018), un­der the Rules of Busi­ness of Gov­ern­ment of Puducherry, 1963 to make it clear who ran the gov­ern­ment: “Any in­struc­tion

KI­RAN BEDI tak­ing a video of garbage piled up near Then­gaithittu fish­ing har­bour while rid­ing pil­lion.

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