‘A landmark judgment’
Interview with V. Narayanasamy, Chief Minister of Puducherry.
CHIEF Minister V. Narayanasamy received a shot in the arm with the Supreme Court ruling on the National Capital Territory (NCT) issue—after a setback at the Madras High Court, which held that the action of the Lieutenant Governor (L.G.) in appointing three nominated MLAS was within the ambit of her powers. Narayanasamy wasted no time in reminding the L.G. of her powers, though the L.G. has told the press that the Supreme Court ruling is applicable only to the NCT, and does not make any difference to her status in Puducherry. Narayanasamy spoke to Frontline at length on the issue. Excerpts from the interview:
Does the Supreme Court order in the NCT case mean anything to Puducherry? At a practical level, what is happening in this Union Territory and what should ideally be happening here?
It is a landmark judgment. For a long time this issue was not settled, the question of powers of the elected government versus the administrator. The administrators were thinking that they were all-powerful.
As far as Delhi is concerned, since it is the capital city, certain powers to that State have been curtailed, such as land, law and order and police. First of all, the fundamental thing is when the Constitution Bench decides on a certain principle, it is applicable to all States. It is not only for a particular State because they are framing the broad policy on the basis of the constitutional frame of things. They said that the will of the people is to be enforced by the elected government. Second, the administrators of Puducherry and Delhi are only figureheads. Thirdly, they should not hinder the running of the administration in these two places.
Cabinet decision, they cannot touch. Moreover, they have no independent authority or power. There is one provision which is peculiar to Puducherry and Delhi. Whenever there is a difference of opinion, it is to be referred to the Government of India. That is, the President. Referring the matter to the Honourable President should be on sound principles. It cannot be on a trivial
tions and responsibilities under the said statutes, I am carrying on to the best of my knowledge and ability with the sole intent of providing good governance while ensuring financial prudence. I understand that Parliamentary Secretary to Chief Minister has challenged before Hon’ble High Court of Madras the vires of the letters of Ministry of Home Affairs clarifying the role of Authorities matter—if I transfer one officer from here to there; it cannot be sent. There are policy issues such as internal security, law and order, disputes relating to two communities, and protection of Dalits—these are areas in which when a new policy is being made and if there is a difference of opinion, it can be sent. Not on routine work.
Look at Justice Chandrachud’s words. He said on trivial matters it cannot be sent because it will lead to long delays in getting administrative work done. They [L.G.S] are representatives of the President. They have to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. They cannot interfere in the day-to-day administration. These things are very clear in the judgment.
Now that the Supreme Court has made it clear that a Cabinet is free to take decisions, and those decisions only need to be communicated to the Lieutenant Governor, does it make any difference to the manner of functioning of the Puducherry government and administration?
Puducherry is a small territory. We are meeting hundreds of people every day. The MLAS are doing the job of Councillors here. For instance, if there is a water shortage issue, drainage problem, power supply issue, or supply of rations, people approach their MLA. The Councillors also supplement that work. They know the pulse of the people. The people have tested everybody and elected them. The day-to-day administration is to be done by the Minister concerned. There is a hierarchy in that. We have officers at the ground level, we have officers at the middle level, then directors, then secretaries, the Chief Secretary, Ministers and the Chief Minister. Ours being a small territory, we know the demands of the people. If we don’t deliver within five years, people will throw us out. That is the power of the people.
What the L.G. is doing is very unfortunate as far as Puducherry is concerned. Going and cleaning a place, a lower level government servant can do that. If he does not do, the MLA goes there and he gets the work done.
in the administration of the UT of Puducherry. The matter is, as such, sub judice.”
Kiran Bedi was upset with the last paragraph of the Chief Minister’s letter addressed to her, which read: “I wish you take immediate corrective actions and change your undemocratic style of functioning forthwith. If you continue with your acts of daily interference in the day-to-