The Chief Minister also directed the chief secretary to inform him about any violations on the directions as contained in the standing order.
Puducherry: The intense power struggle between the Lt Governor and the elected government has plunged into new depths in Puducherry, this time over control on financial matters of the administration, including release of grants-in aid. The chaos started with the secretary, finance, issuing a circular on August 3 this year directing the heads of administrative departments to obtain prior sanction from the Lt Governor before approaching the finance department for release of grants.
Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy declared in a standing order dated November 17, the circular issued by the finance secretary as “null and void.” After the order issued by the Chief Minister came into the public domain the Lt Governor questioned the authority of the Chief Minister in issuing standing orders.
In his circular, the finance secretary pointed out that as per Rule 20 of Delegation of Financial Power Rules (DFPR), 1978, the Lt Governor is the authority to sanction grants -in aids and it is mandatory to get permission from the Lt Governor. In his standing order, the Chief Minister noted that 13 of DFPR “covers not only the re- delegation of powers for contingent expenditure and miscellaneous expenditure, but also covers re-delegation of powers of the Lt Governor to secretaries to government to heads of the departments.”
The government of Puducherry which follows the Union Government’s approach of issuing expenditure sanction has since been issuing grants under rule 20 and investments under rule 19 only as a ‘scheme’ with the approval of the planning board, cabinet, administrator, and ministry of home affairs followed by the approval from the legislative assembly.
The budget for the annual financial statement is approved by the Puducherry cabinet and ministry of home affairs and passed by the legislative assembly. The standing order states that “ no other authority in Puducherry has any independent power to alter or change the decision of the legislative assembly.”
The Chief Minister also directed the chief secretary to inform him about any violations on the directions as contained in the standing order. The finance secretary is to submit a weeklycompliance report from the first working day of every week.
At the same time, a note from V. Candavelou, secretary of finance, responded to the standing order issued by the Chief Minister said that it is ‘unimplementable’ as it is against statutory provisions. Rule 20 of the DFPR vests full power with the Lt Governor in issuing any grants in aid including scholarships and loans, says the note. The Lt Governor fully supported this stand.
Later, in a WhatsApp message, she said that the focus now is on the correctness of expenditures being public money. “I have suggested to him (Chief Minister) to consider withdrawing his SO (standing order),” she added.