The Supreme Court on Friday extended till 10 July its earlier order restraining the Puducherry government from implementing any cabinet decision with financial implications. The apex court was hearing the case regarding power tussle between the lieutenant governor (LG) and the elected government of the union territory.
The vacation bench comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant observed that the case needs to be heard at length, and ordered it to be listed before a regular bench.
In an order passed on 30 April, the Madras High Court had held that the elected government of the union territory generally assumes supremacy over the lieutenant governor. Puducherry LG Kiran Bedi had then moved the Supreme Court in May challenging the high court order. The Centre had also filed a separate special leave petition on similar lines, in which the Supreme Court had issued notice on 10 May.
Later, Bedi approached the apex court seeking status quo prior to the Madras High Court order that curtailed her administrative powers.
On June 4, the Supreme Court restrained the Puducherry government, led by chief minister V. Narayanasamy, from implementing any cabinet decisions that might have financial implications.
Today, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Congress government in Puducherry, argued for the modification of the apex court’s order passed on 4 June. He appraised the court that three cabinet decisions were taken which included distribution of free rice to all ration card holders, renaming a department, and auctioning off a sick factory. Sibal argued that free distribution of rice to all ration card holders can be allowed as the scheme has been running for the past ten years.
Appearing for the Bedi, solicitor general Tushar Mehta argued that the scheme cannot be allowed as it will be a violation of the apex court’s order and has a huge financial implication. Mehta also submitted that while earlier free rice was distributed to only BPL (below poverty line) card holders, the Puducherry government now wants to provide the benefit to all ration card holders.