The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi’s decision to nominate three MLAs to the Assembly. “The lieutenant governor has the power to nominate,” the court said while hearing a petition filed by the Congress against the nominations, the Hindustan Times reported.
The Puducherry Assembly has 30 elected and three nominated members. In July, the Centre cleared the names of two Bharatiya Janata Party functionaries – V Saminathan and KG Shankar – and pro-BJP education entrepreneur S Selva Ganapathy as the nominated member. Bedi administered the oath of office to the three at the Raj Bhavan in a hastily-assembled ceremony.
In response, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy accused Bedi of invading the powers of the elected government, by exaggerating her own powers as the Centre’s admnistrator of the union territory.
On Thursday, the court said that the lieutenant governor need not consult the local government on such appointments, The Hindu reported. A bench headed by Justice AK Sikri agreed with Attorney General KK Venugopal’s argument that since Puducherry is union territory, it is a “property” of the central government, and consultation is unnecessary.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal, appearing for the ruling party in Puducherry, had argued that the nomination should emanate from the local government, but the final decision would be taken by the Centre. This, he said, would preserve the spirit of “cooperative federalism”. But Venugopal said that the law is silent on the process of consultation.
The top court asked Assembly Speaker V Vaithilingam to allow the nominated members to function as MLAs till the petition is disposed of.
Congress MLA Dhanalaxmi Narayan had challenged the nominations in the Madras High Court, but her plea was turned down. Subsequently, the party filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. The top court refused to stay the High Court’s order, but reserved the case on November 15.