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.
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.