In a blow to the Congress-led Puducherry Government, the Madras High Court on Thursday, pronounced that the appointment of three MLAs to the union territory's assembly by Lt Governor Kiran Bedi was valid. The nominations had drawn controversy as two of the MLAs were from the BJP while one other was a pro BJP educationist.
Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy's parliamentary secretary K Lakshminarayanan had moved the Madras High Court last July seeking to quash the recommendations sent by the Lt governor to the Union government. BJP Puducherry unit president V Saminathan, treasurer K G Shankar and a private school chairman Selvaganapathy were nominated to the legislative assembly. The complainant argued that the Puducherry Government was not consulted for the nomination.
However, quoting the constitution, Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Sundar J said, "Under Article 163 of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister of a State is to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under the Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion. The Governor of a State, however, has wider discretion than the President in view of Sub-Article (2) of Article 163 of the Constitution, which provides that if any question arises whether any matter is or is not a matter in respect of which the Governor is by or under the Constitution required to act in his discretion, the decision of the Governor in his discretion shall be final, and the validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion."
The move by the Lt Governor had irked the ruling party and its ally DMK. BJP, had till then had a negligible presence in the Union Territory and no representation in the 30-member assembly. The party's candidates, who contested in the last assembly poll did not win any seats. Bedi, however, had maintained that she acted according to the law and there was 'no conflict' in it.
Despite this claim, however, she had hastily conducted the swearing in ceremony on July 4, 2017 leading to further criticism.
The court, however, made it clear that the nomination itself is legally valid. "Section 46(2) of the UT Act provides that all executive action of the Administrator, whether taken on the advice of his Ministers or otherwise, shall be expressed in the name of the Administrator. The use of the expression ‘or otherwise’ in Section 46(2) of the UT Act makes it amply clear that the Administrator has independent powers to act and is not bound to act only on the advice of his Ministers," said the judges.