Counsel for the ministry of home affairs also pressed for stay of the verdict.
New Delhi: In a setback to the lieutenant governor of Puducherry Kiran Bedi, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay at this stage the single judge order of the Madras high court clipping her powers as Lt. Governor in the Union Territory.
A Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, however, issued notice to the petitioner both on the main appeal as well as on the application seeking stay of the April 30 order of the High Court. Senior counsel Kapil Sibal for the original petitioner opposed the stay and said the appeal had been filed directly by-passing the Division bench. The CJI, however, said, “this court has the power to entertain the appeal”.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Ms. Bedi submitted that the administration of Puducherry had been severely affected for the last nine days as a consequence of the judgment. This judgment had played havoc on the administration that needs to be stayed. Counsel for the ministry of home affairs also pressed for stay of the verdict. But the court refused to stay at this stage and instead issued notice. At the outset, Ms Bedi said that though a writ appeal ought to have been filed, she had chosen to file an appeal in the apex court as the high court is closed for summer vacation and there is urgency in this matter.
She said an important question of law has arisen in this appeal, viz whether the Union Territory of Puducherry can be considered as a `State’ under the Constitution when the apex court had categorically ruled that Puducherry continued to be a Union Territory. The High Court she pointed out had set aside the notifications issued in relation to the powers of the Lt. Governor.
Further she wanted the court to decide whether LG of Puducherry was bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers despite there being a clear mandate in the Union Territories Act of 1963 that the LG was not bound by the aid and advice of the CoM; whether UT of Delhi and UT of Puducherry can be treated alike despite the fact that the apex court had held that they fell in different categories.
She pointed out that the High Court had erroneously held that Puducherry was akin to a State and the Lt Governor was bound to act as per the aid and advice of the Council of ministers. She said such a finding was incorrect as Puducherry continued to be a Union Territory under the Constitution.
Drawing a distinction between the Union Territory of Delhi and Puducherry, Ms. Bedi said that Lt. Governor of Puducherry was granted far more powers than the LG of Delhi. She said the High Court judgment had destroyed the basic edifice of the Constitution inasmuch as the status of UT of Puducherry is equated to a State. She prayed for setting aside the High Court judgment and an interim stay of its operation.