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Opinion DC Comment 02 May 2019 Signal service to de ...

Signal service to democracy

DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published May 2, 2019, 1:24 am IST
Updated May 2, 2019, 1:24 am IST
The Madras high court has done a signal service in upholding a crucial democratic principle with regard to governance in Puducherry.
Madras High Court (Photo: File)
 Madras High Court (Photo: File)

The Madras high court has done a signal service in upholding a crucial democratic principle with regard to governance in Puducherry. It's the legitimate right of elected representatives to govern. If this had to be re-emphasised by the court, it's an index of how far the lieutenant-governor may have breached protocol in not allowing the decisions of the chief minister and his Cabinet to be implemented by interacting directly with bureaucrats. The court has clearly said Cabinet decisions are binding on officials, and that a parallel administration revolving around the lieutenant-governor, who is only a ceremonial appointee in the Union territory, can't be allowed to function. The very tenets of democracy and governance will be breached by extra-constitutional powers vested in or grabbed by the administrator appointed by the President.

The court also struck down certain special powers given to the incumbent, Kiran Bedi, by the Centre, which sought to empower her in the day-to-day administration. Puducherry may not be a state, but it has an elected legislature empowered to reflect the people's will in the making of laws, and an elected chief minister and his Cabinet to take legitimate decisions and implement them. There are no parallels really to draw between Puducherry and Delhi, the National Capital Territory. As a former policewoman, and in fact the country's first woman IPS officer, Ms Bedi may have picked up the autocratic habits reflected in her tenure at Raj Nivas. In her overreach as lieutenant-governor, the Magasaysay Award winner who won plaudits for her humane treatment of Tihar Jail prisoners had been harming the very foundational principles of democracy.

 

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