Kolkata: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday deplored Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s “non-responsive” approach to the Raj Bhavan, and said he was still awaiting information he had sought a week ago on the appointment of administrators to run the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC).
He said such an approach was “unfortunate” and “contrary to the constitutional norms”.
Dhankhar had on May 7 invoked Article 167 of the Constitution to seek information from the chief minister about the appointment of the KMC board of administrators headed by state minister Firhad Hakim, who was also the city mayor before the tenure of the regular board of the corporation expired.
Article 167 of the Constitution lays down the duties of the chief minister to furnish information to the governor.
“Your continued non-responsive stance when it comes to the performance of ‘duties’ under Constitution towards the Governor in terms of Article 167 is unfortunate and contrary to your oath under Article 164 and against the essence and spirit of the Constitution and surely cannot be countenanced,” he wrote in a letter to Banerjee.
The administrators were appointed on May 6 to run the day-to-day affairs of the corporation in view of the postponement of the civic elections due to COVID-19-led lockdown.
It is for the first time in its history that the KMC is being governed by a panel of administrators. The tenure of the Trinamool Congress-run board of the civic body expired on May 7.
In his letter, Dhankhar said he had sought information, among others, on the entire decision making process that culminated in the promulgation of the May 6 notification by which the KMC board of administrators was appointed.
“I still await the information sought vide my communication dated May 7, 2020 sent to you after the Chief Secretary, West Bengal, had failed to make available the information sought from him on May 6, 2020 [sic],” he said in the letter.
There are various representations, including those from opposition parties, regarding the appointment of the board of administrators, the governor said.
The governor said the representations described it as death knell of Constitutional prescriptions.
“While you are obliged to act in accordance with the Constitution as the Chief Minister, I as the Governor has to preserve and protect it,” he said.
Dhankhar urged Banerjee to perform her “duty” under Article 167 of the Constitution and provide all information sought by him.
Over the past two months, the state government and the Raj Bhavan have frequently engaged in acrimonious exchanges over the Banerjee dispensation’s handling of the COVID-19 situation and the lockdown to stem its spread.