‘A land­mark judg­ment’

In­ter­view with V. Narayanasamy, Chief Min­is­ter of Puducherry.

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

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-

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