In a major setback to Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, the Madurai Bench the Madras High Court ruled that she “does not have power to interfere with the day to day activities of the Union Territory government.” The Bench quashed the directives given by the Union Ministry, which empowered the Lt Governor to interfere in the day to day activities of the Puducherry government and seek govt related files. The Madras High Court order verdict came on a writ petition filed by Puducherry Congress MLA Lakshminarayanan in 2017 questioning Puducherry Lieutenant Governor’s (L-G) powers to interfere in day-to-day administration of the union territory despite the presence of a council of ministers. In 2017, Narayanasamy had accused Bedi of paralysing the administration by making derogatory remarks against the MLAs, ministry and officials through social media.
Bedi has so far not reacted to the development. Earlier in January, she had termed “false and malicious” the allegations levelled against her by AICC secretary Sanjay Dutt. During a press conference earlier in the day, Dutt alleged that the Centre had posted Bedi to destabilise the Congress government headed by V Narayanasamy. He also accused her of stalling implementation of welfare schemes formulated by the elected government.
Bedi, in a WhatsApp message to reporters, said the allegations were false, malicious and absolutely baseless and unfair. "In my two and a half years of service in Puducherry, there is not a single instance of any such situation. It is unethical to be making such false statements and misleading the readers. The statement is absolutely regrettable," the former IPS officer said.
She alleged that perhaps the work being done to make Puducherry cleaner, safer and financially better managed was not palatable to certain vested interests. "Or else what could be the reason for such false statements," she asked.
This Lt Governor vs Chief Minister saga in Puducherry found some support in distant Delhi when Arvind Kejriwal voiced the demand for statehood for the national capital and Puducherry. Kejriwal had alleged that the BJP-led NDA government was trying to suppress democracy and claimed the situation in the two union territories was the same. "The kind of ruthlessness with which the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre is trying to suppress democracy all over the country is unprecedented," Kejriwal had said in February earlier this year. Expressing solidarity with his Puducherry counterpart V Narayanasamy, who is locked in a turf war with Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, Kejriwal alleged that the Lt Governors of New Delhi and Puducherry have been interfering in routine administration of the elected governments.
Demanding statehood for both the national capital and Puducherry, the Aam Aadmi chief said people in these two union territories should not be discriminated against.
(With PTI inputs)