Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi on Monday stuck to her decision to not to turn up at the Assembly to deliver the customary address to mark the start of a session, on the grounds that the budget was not sent to her for approval.
The House had been convened to meet at 9.30 am today with the Lt Governor’s customary address before the presentation of the budget.
Arrangements had been put in place, including the deploying of personnel to accord a customary guard of Honour to her.
Bedi had already informed Chief Minister V Narayanasamy last night the reasons for her decision not to present her customary address.
The session, however, commenced 15 minutes behind schedule at 9.45 am with the Speaker V P Sivakolundhu reading out a couplet from the Thirukkural.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Chief Minister K Lakshminarayan rose to move a resolution requesting the Speaker to keep in abeyance the address of the Lt Governor scheduled for today.
Ruling Congress legislator T Jayamoorthy seconded the motion.
The Speaker announced that the Lt Governor’s address had been kept in abeyance.
He said the session was convened in keeping with the rules governing the business and procedure.
The Speaker further said the Lt Governor’s address was now kept in abeyance and the House would resume its sitting at 12.05 pm and the Chief Minister would present the budget for the fiscal 2020-’21.
He said any delay in bringing in the budget in the current COVID-19 situation would only affect people at large and hence it was decided that the budget would be presented today itself.
AIADMK legislator A Anbalagan said his call attention motion on pandemic situation should be taken up while the BJP legislators said it would not be proper to go ahead with the session without the customary address by the Lt Governor.
The Chief Minister had in a letter to Bedi on Sunday night pointed out that the annual financial statement had been duly recommended by the Administrator (Lt Governor) and approved by the President.
“There is therefore no infirmity of any rule or law in this regard. Hence the approval of the Administrator for placing the Annual financial statement before the Assembly (as was maintained by Lt governor in her letter to the Chief Minister) did not arise and will be redundant. This practice is being followed in this Union Territory for many decades,” he had said.
In her letter, Bedi had stated that she had not received the budget and it had no approval which is a ‘serious omission’ on the part of the government.
Narayanasamy, on his part, told the Lt Governor that there was no omission committed by the Assembly secretariat or by the government as alleged by Bedi.
He had also pointed out that “when the entire nation is fighting against COVID-19 it is time to stand united…”
“Already it had been 20 days since the lapse of vote on Account 2020-2021. Any further delay would only affect the administration in its fight against the pandemic and ultimately the people of Puducherry would suffer.
“I believe your good self would appreciate the facts and deliver your speech as scheduled and uphold the values of Constitution of India and spirit of democracy,” he had said.
Bedi, in a reply to the Chief Minister today, said the budget is presented to the Assembly “after the government firms up its proposed expenditure for the year. Without firming up the demand for grants, the question of presenting budget does not arise. Therefore only after getting approval under the Union Territories Act 1963 budget can be presented.”
“You are therefore requested to kindly send the file without further delay for laying Annual Financial statement and demand for grants before the Assembly, for me to accord a considered approval and to give a fresh date for presenting the budget as well as for the inaugural address,” she wrote.
The Lt Governor and the Narayanaswamy-led government in the union territory have been at loggerheads since Bedi assumed office in 2016 over various issues.