Madras High Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by the Chief Minister of Puducherry V Narayanasamy against Governor Kiran Bedi which challenged the latter's decision to distribute cash instead of free rice to ration cardholders.
Narayanaswamy had stated that on June 7, 2019, the government had passed a resolution which required to continue welfare schemes to provide items and later referred the scheme to the Union Home Ministry. The Home Ministry, in turn, directed the government to continue the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme.
Justice C V Karthikeyan stated that as per the Union Territory Act, the decision of the President is binding on the administrator and Ministers. He stated, “When a decision has been rendered by the President, then further actions must only be according to the decision given by the President. This is binding on the Council of Ministers, which includes the Chief Minister, and also the Lieutenant Governor. All who have taken an oath to abide by the provisions of the Constitution are bound by it. It is not for this court to call for explanations from the Ministry of Home Affairs as to what were the supervening circumstances which prevailed upon the President to give a decision that the Direct Benefit Transfer (cash) scheme must be preferred in lieu of distribution of free rice. The immunity guaranteed under the Constitution is sacrosanct."
Reacting to the verdict, Narayanawamy told a meeting of the PCC executive that "it is a day of grief" for him, while Bedi welcomed it, saying the scheme 'will check all possible leakages and pilferages.'
The Judge also stated that the Governor should make efforts to solve the matter with the respected authorities before making a reference to the President. He observed that in this case, the Governor had made no such efforts to arrive at an amicable solution.
(with inputs from agencies)