Topic : HC curtails powers of Puducherry LG, said not to interfere in govt affairs
Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2: Indian Governance
The Madras High Court recently said Lieutenant Governor (LG) does not have the power to interfere in the day-to-day activities of the union territory.
More about on news:
- The Central government as well as the Administrator [the term used in the Constitution to refer to the Lieutenant-Governor] should be true to the concept of democratic principles.
- The judge made it clear that government secretaries were bound to take instructions from the ministers concerned and the Council of Ministers, headed by the CM, besides reporting to them on official matters.
- The secretaries are not empowered to issue orders on their own or upon the instructions of the Administrator.
- Justice R. Mahadevan of the Madras High Court pointed out the significant differences in the powers conferred on the legislatures of Puducherry and Delhi under Articles 239A and 239AA of the Constitution.
- In his judgement that held that the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) of Puducherry could not interfere with the day-to-day administration of the Union Territory when an elected government was in place.
- Ruled that the powers of the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G), Justice Mahadevan said though Article 239AA imposes several restrictions on the legislature of Delhi, no such restrictions had been imposed explicitly in the case of Puducherry under Article 239A.
- The judge held that government secretaries of the Puducherry administration were required to report to the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister on all official matters.
How powerful is a Governor?
- The powers a Governor has in the state they administer is equivalent to that of the President.
- They can appoint Chief Ministers, Ministers, the State Election Commissioner and judges of the District Courts.
- They also serve as Chancellors of all the universities in the state.
- The Governor can also dissolve the state Assembly if they see the need, and if the Assembly is not in session, they can promulgate ordinances.
- Based on the recommendation of the Election Commission, the Governor can also disqualify a legislator.
- Another power the Governor holds is to rule the state in case the ruling party loses its majority in the Assembly, as in Jammu and Kashmir now.
- A Lieutenant Governor also has the same powers like governor.
- Only three Union Territories — Andaman and Nicobar, Delhi and Puducherry — have Lt. Governors.
- These powers are in place to ensure checks and balances for the state government and its functioning.
Difference in status between Delhi and Puducherry Lieutenant Governors:
Justice R. Mahadevan, who delivered the Madras High Court judgment, is conscious of the difference in status between Delhi and Puducherry.
- The Puducherry legislature is the creation of a parliamentary law, based on an enabling provision in Article 239A of the Constitution, whereas the NCT legislature has been created by the Constitution itself under Article 239AA.
- Governor of Delhi has more powers that the Governor of a State — he does not have to listen to the advice of the Council of Ministers.
- In the case of Delhi, since portfolios like land, police and public order fall under the domain of the Centre, of which the Lt.
- Governor is a representative, he holds more powers than a Governor.
- The Supreme Court had described the NCT as sui generis. At the same time, the NCT Assembly is limited in the extent of its legislative powers, as it is barred from dealing with the subjects of public order, police and land.
- However, looking at the Business Rules as well as other statutory provisions on Puducherry, the judge has sought to give greater credence to the concept of a representative government.
- He has set aside two clarifications issued by the Centre in 2017 to the effect that the L-G enjoys more power than the Governor of a State and can act without aid and advice.
- In view of the Constitution Bench judgment on Delhi, he has differed with another Madras High Court decision of 2018 in which the LG’s power to act irrespective of the Cabinet’s advice was upheld.
- In the event that the latest judgment is taken up on appeal, a key question may be how far the decision of the five-judge Bench on the limits of the Delhi L-G’s powers would indeed apply to Puducherry.
Powers and sources of LG of Pondicherry:
- The Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 provides for a Legislative Assembly of Pondicherry (as Puducherry was then called), with a Council of Ministers to govern the “Union Territory of Pondicherry”.
- The same Act says that the UT will be administered by the President of India through an Administrator (LG).
- Section 18 of the Act, which deals with “Extent of legislative power” of the Assembly, says that MLAs “may make laws for the whole or any part of the Union Territory with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the State List or the Concurrent List”.
- Section 44 of the Act, which deals with the Council of Ministers and its working, says the Council of Ministers headed by a Chief Minister will “aid and advise the Administrator in the exercise of his functions in relation to matters with respect to which the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory has power to make laws”
- Under Section 22 of the Act, prior sanction of the Administrator is required for certain legislative proposals. These include Bills or amendments that the Council of Ministers intends to move in the Legislative Assembly, and which deal with the “constitution and organisation of the court of the Judicial Commissioner”,
- Section 23 of the Act also makes it obligatory on the part of the UT government to seek the “recommendation” of the LG before moving a Bill or an amendment to provide for “the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax”,
- The manner in which the LG functions vis-à-vis the elected government (Council of Ministers) is also spelt out in the Rules of Business of the Government of Pondicherry, 1963, issued on June 22, 1963.
- Under Rule 47, which deals with persons serving in the UT government, the Administrator exercises powers regulating the conditions of service of such persons in consultation with the Chief Minister.
- Under the constitutional scheme, the Delhi Assembly has the power to legislate on all subjects except law and order and land.
“The Central government as well as the Administrator should be true to the concept of democratic principles. Otherwise, the constitutional scheme of the country of being democratic and republic would be defeated.” Comment.