SC asks Puducherry Assembly Speaker to allow nominated BJP MLAs to function

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New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Speaker of Puducherry Assembly to allow the three nominated Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs to participate in the Assembly proceedings, and sought the Centre’s response to pleas challenging their nomination.

A bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan asked the Centre and Puducherry governments to file their responses to the pleas of Congress leaders in Puducherry and posted the matter for August 28.

“It needs consideration. These are pure legal questions… We expect the Speaker of the Assembly to allow MLAs to function till the petitions are adjudicated,” said the bench while refusing to stay the Madras High Court judgement which had upheld the nominations of the three BJP members.

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The issue of the Centre “unilaterally” appointing the three MLAs without the consultation of the elected government in the Union Territory requires authoritative pronouncement, the bench said.

The Union Home Ministry had appointed BJP Puducherry unit chief V. Saminathan, its treasurer K.G. Shankar, and educationist S. Selva Ganapathy to the Assembly in June 2017, and they were inducted as nominated MLAs by Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi on July 4, 2017.

However, Assembly Speaker V. Vaithilingam had refused to recognize their appointment, saying they were not nominated by competent authority. He had denied them permission to enter the Assembly, in spite of the Madras High Court order upholding their nomination.

Congress MLAs K. Lakshminarayanan and S. Dhanalakshmi have approached the apex court against the Madras High Court order of upholding the nomination of BJP MLAs.

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During the hearing, the top court said the administrator is a representative of the central government in the Union Territory and “a delegatee of the Centre, which does not mean that the delegator cannot exercise power at its own discretion.”

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, contended that Puducherry is a territory of the Union of India which has no autonomy and “it’s the Central government, which exercises control through its representative or administrator.”

Every union territory shall be administrated through the President and its delegatee, who can be administrator or the Lt. Governor, he added while defending Centre’s move to appoint three BJP MLAs in the Assembly without consulting Chief Minister or council of ministers.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Congress leaders in the apex court, contended that the nominations were made by the Centre to the Puducherry Legislative Assembly without taking Chief Minister V. Narayanaswamy into confidence and obtaining his recommendations.

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“We are under the federal structure of governance and there is a concept of co-operative federal structures. Despite the Constitutional scheme and there being an elected government in the Union Territory can the central government nominate members to the Assembly without consultation?” he asked.

Sibal said there are constitutional issues and complicated questions that need to be adjudicated at the earliest and it should be dealt by the Constitution bench.

–IANS

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