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[Pondicherry LG Vs Govt] Government & Lt. Governor Should Work In Unison, Not In Division: Madras HC Sets Aside Single Judge's Order [Read Judgment]

11 March 2020 12:05 PM GMT
[Pondicherry LG Vs Govt] Government & Lt. Governor Should Work In Unison, Not In Division: Madras HC Sets Aside Single Judges Order [Read Judgment]
"The popularly elected Government of Puducherry no doubt represents the will of the people, as Edmund Burke said "In all forms of government, people are the true legislators", but on the other hand, the Legislature should remind itself of what Montesquieu said "It is the job of the legislature to follow the spirit of the nation, provided it is not contrary to the principles of government."
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Government headed by the Chief Minister and the Administrator/Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry shall work in unison and not in division, observed the division bench of the Madras High Court while it set aside a single bench judgment that had held that the Lieutenant Governor (LG) does not have the right to interfere in the daily affairs of the elected government of Puducherry, the Madras High Court has ruled.

The single judge, while disposing of a petition filed by Puducherry Raj Bhavan MLA K Lakshminarayanan, had held that the Administrator is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers in matters where the Legislative Assembly is competent to enact laws as contemplated under Section 44 of the Government of Union Territories Act, 1962 though she is empowered to differ with the views of the Council based on some rationale which raises a fundamental issue regarding the action of the Government.

Allowing the appeal filed by the Union of India, the division bench comprising of the Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad observed thus:

  • The primary responsible role of the governance has to be executed by the Council of Ministers who are under an obligation to issue orders under Rule 17. The exercise of such authority is controlled by Rule 25 where a subject matter as entailed in the said rule shall have to be submitted through the Chief Minister before the Administrator before the issue of orders. The Administrator thereupon has the authority to revist the matter under Rule 26 and on any further or adverse or other opinion may require the case to be submitted before the Council of Ministers. The Administrator can call for any information from the Chief Minister on proposals for legislation or other information relating to the Administrator as per Rule 27. The channelisation of the process of governance is therefore through the Administrator. If the Administrator with regard to the subject matter of Rule 4(1) has a difference of opinion it has to be resolved by taking recourse to Rule 50 or by referring to the Central Government under Rule 51 whereupon the decision of the President of India shall be acted upon. A draft bill can be referred by the Administrator prior to its introduction in the legislative assembly.
  • The role of the Government and the Administrator are thus intertwined. The Administrator has a segregated control over the matters falling under Rule 4(2) read with Chapter IV of the 1963 Rules. The decisions relating to the subjects under Chapter III of the Rules have to emanate from a decision by the Council of Ministers and pass through the Administrator for scrutiny including the subjects in Rule 25. The final decision to be made by the Central Government under orders of the President of India if there be a difference of opinion..
  • The Central Government through the Home Ministry under orders of the President of India exercises a referal role to umpire a decision in the event the Administrator makes a reference as per the 1963 Rules for its decision. Such a decision should rest on a sound foundation based on objective material and a rational subjective satisfaction recording a firm opinion.

While setting aside the single bench judgment, the court said that the basis of parallel drawn between a State and a Union Territory by the Single judge was not appropriate.

"We hold that the impugned judgment on the basis of parallel being drawn between a State and a Union Territory was not appropriate for all the reasons aforesaid and the same cannot be achieved by a decree of Court of law, the reasoning being not far to see that under the Constitution it is only the Parliament which can by law grant such equal status. 

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