[op-ed snap ]Discord in Puducherry

Note4Students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: Union Territories. Appointment Of Lt. governor

Mains Level:  Issues related to the discretionary powers of Lt Governor And conflict Between Appointed and elected Executives in Union Territories.


NEWS

CONTEXT

Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy sat in protest for six days, opposing what he calls. Governor Kiran Bedi’s  “high-handedness” and tendency to interfere in the administration.

Root For Discord

  • Such problems are an obvious consequence of the political structure of Union Territories, in which the Administrator, as the nominee of the President, enjoys powers superior to the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers.
  • The trigger for the latest stand-off seems to have been Ms. Bedi’s move to enforce the rule for two-wheeler riders to wear helmets.
  • While the Chief Minister believes it can be enforced only after raising awareness, Ms. Bedi wants it implemented immediately.
  • Chief Minister listed blocking of welfare schemes such as the free rice scheme and enhanced scholarship for Scheduled Caste students, among other actions of the L-G, as the real issues.

Constitutional and legal Provisions regarding the Administration of Union Territories

  • Under the Constitution, the territory belongs to the President, who runs it through the L-G as Administrator.
  • Under Section 44 of the Union Territories Act, 1963, the Administrator has to act on the ‘aid and advice’ of the Council of Ministers.
  • At the same time, any difference of opinion between them can be referred to the President, and in the meantime, the Administrator’s action prevails on any urgent matter.
  • . This scheme, which gives a clear edge to the Centre, can work only if there is harmony between the Council and the L-G.

Way Forward

  • It would be unfortunate if individuals occupying Raj Nivas in any Union Territory with a Legislative Assembly get carried away and ignore or undermine the elected body.
  • The Supreme Court on  L-G’s powers in Delhi stressed the need for the L-G as well as people’s representatives to “function in harmony within constitutional parameters”.
  • The L-G was cautioned against having a hostile attitude towards the Ministers.
  • There is no reason why that principle cannot be extended to Puducherry, which has a longer record of elected governments.

By Er S

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