Tamil Nadu moves SC against Guv Ravi for refusing to re-induct Ponmudy as Minister

The state government has submitted at the court that Ravi was “acting as if he was a super appellate authority” and that Governor Ravi was “attempting to run a parallel government”.
Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi and Chief Minister MK Stalin
Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi and Chief Minister MK Stalin
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The Tamil Nadu government moved the Supreme Court on Monday, March 18, against Governor RN Ravi over his refusal to reinstate K Ponmudy as a Minister in the Cabinet. The Governor, on March 17, refused to accept chief minister MK Stalin’s recommendation to re-appoint K Ponmudy as a minister, even after his jail term was suspended and conviction stayed by the apex court. 

The state government has submitted at the court that Ravi was “acting as if he was a super appellate authority” and his refusal was a ”blatant violation” of the court’s order, and the sought the court to direct the Governor to to appoint Ponmudy as a Minister by administering oath of office, act as per the Chief Minister's recommendation. The Tamil Nadu government had earlier filed a writ petition against the Governor over prolonged delay in assenting to bills. Now, the state has filed an interlocutory application in the writ petition.

Senior advocate AM Singhvi along with senior advocate P Wilson submitted at the court that the case should be heard urgently. Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud said that the request would be looked into at the earliest.

The state government, in its petition, contended that the Governor has been acting “in defiance of the Constitutional relationship between the Governor and the Government in other matters” as well. Stating that Ravi refused to accept the request of the CM to reinstate Ponmudy as Minister, they submitted that the Governor gave “his own interpretation” to the court’s order and said that Ponmudy cannot be appointed as Minister as the conviction has “only been ‘suspended, not set aside’”. “The action of the Governor is prima facie contumacious and amounts to willful violation of the order of this Hon’ble Court,” the state said.

In an official communication sent from the Raj Bhavan, the Governor said that Ponmudy was “tainted of corruption” and so “re-induction as minister would be against constitutional morality”. He had also said, “It is pertinent to note that the Supreme Court of India, in the light of Sec 8(3) of Representation of the People Act 1951, in the said order has suspended the conviction by way of interim relief to Dr K Ponmudy. It means the conviction of Ponmudy though existent has been made nonoperative. It has not been set aside.” 

The state government submitted that the Governor’s refusal to accept the CM’s request to appoint Ponmudy as the Higher Education Minister amounts to a ‘blatant breach’ of Article 164(1) of the Constitution and alleged that the Governor was “attempting to run a parallel government and is attempting to choose minister as per his subjective assessment of suitability, which is impermissible.” Article 161(1) states that the CM shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister.

In December, 2023 former Minister Ponmudy and his wife Visalakshi were convicted by Madras HC in a disproportionate assets case and sentenced to three years in prison. He was disqualified as an MLA and a Minister as per section 8(3) of Representation of the People Act 1951, which says that a person convicted for various offences, including provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, shall be disqualified for a period of six years. Following this, Ponmudy approached the SC, which suspended the sentence and stayed the conviction.

Read: Why DMK Minister K Ponmudy stands disqualified as an MLA

The legal battle between the Tamil Nadu government and the Governor RN Ravi has been going on for a while. The state had gone to the court over the latter’s inordinate delay in passing the bills, in which the Supreme Court pulled up the Governor questioning why he referred the bills to the President after withholding his assent initially. 

Read: ‘RN Ravi positioning himself as political rival’: TN govt moves Supreme Court against delay in assent for bills

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