The Supreme Court on Friday extended its earlier order, which barred the Puducherry government from implementing any Cabinet decisions that have financial implications. The top court was hearing the case involving a power struggle between the lieutenant governor and the elected government, PTI reported. The earlier order was effective till July 10.
A vacation bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant said the matter needed to be heard at length and listed it before a regular bench. Puducherry government, represented by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, told the court that it had taken three Cabinet decisions – distribution of free rice to ration card holders, renaming a department and auctioning of a sick factory.
Sibal argued that the scheme for distributing free rice could be allowed as it has been running for the past three years. However, Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi’s counsel, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said that the scheme cannot be given a go-ahead as it will act as a modification to the earlier order and as it comes with a significant financial burden.
Mehta said that earlier free rice was distributed to only those with below the poverty line cards, but now the government wanted to do enact a populist decision with the distribution to all ration holders.
On June 4, the Supreme Court had instructed the Puducherry government – which is led by Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy who has been at opposing ends with Bedi – not to implement any decision with financial implications at the Cabinet meeting on June 7.
The Madras High Court in April ruled that Bedi does not have the powers to interfere or act independently in the day-to-day affairs of the elected government. In matters of finance, administration and service matters, the High Court had said that Bedi could only act on the advice of the council of ministers.
The High Court had passed the order on a petition filed by Congress leader K Laksminarayanan alleging Bedi was running a “parallel government” in Puducherry. Bedi had later approached the apex court, an order to restore the situation before the Madras High Court’s April 30 order.