You have no powers to dismiss my ministers, MK Stalin tells Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi

"Though your letters require only an outright disregard, I am writing to you to clarify both the facts and law on the issue on hand," said Stalin.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Jul 01, 2023 | 12:38 AMUpdatedJul 01, 2023 | 12:39 AM

You have no powers to dismiss my ministers, MK Stalin tells Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Friday, 30 June, made a sharp attack on Governor RN Ravi, stating: “Though your letters require only an outright disregard, I am writing to you to clarify both the facts and law on the issue on hand.”

He was responding to the Governor’s communication a day earlier dismissing Senthil Balaji from the Tamil Nadu Cabinet, an order that he subsequently put in abeyance.

This was the latest in a series of flashpoints between Ravi and the ruling DMK in general and Stalin — the party’s chief — in particular.

Also read: Opposition slams TN Governor’s ‘dismissal’ of Senthil Balaji

Stalin attacks ‘breakdown’ comment

Stalin on Friday told Ravi in his letter that the aid and advice of the chief minister and the Cabinet were neither sought nor given for both orders of the Governor.

He said “I, my Cabinet, and our MLAs enjoy the confidence of the people who are the ultimate sovereign. Our strongest asset is the trust of the people of the state, who are firmly behind us.”

He continued: “Hence, high constitutional authorities like the Governor, while dealing with an elected government, must act with dignity and not stoop to levelling veiled unsubstantiated threats about ‘breakdown of constitutional machinery’.”

Taking down the Governor for using the term “breakdown of constitutional machinery” in his letter, the chief minister said that it was a not-so-veiled threat.

Pointing to the Governor’s second letter, which kept Balaji’s removal in abeyance for the opinion of the attorney general on the advice of the home minister, Stalin said that it showed that Ravi had acted in haste with scant regard to the Constitution.

Related: Governor wants Senthil Balaji out of Cabinet, CM says ‘no’

CM throws his weight behind Balaji

Throwing all his weight behind Senthil Balaji, the chief minister said the embattled leader had only been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for investigation, and not even a charge sheet had been filed against him till date.

“Merely because an agency has commenced an investigation against a person, he or she does not become legally incapacitated to continue as a minister,” said Stalin, pointing out the Supreme Court judgment in Manoj Narula v Union of India.

Further, specifying the Supreme Court observations made in Senthil Balaji’s case, which allowed the ED to proceed with the investigation into the cash-for-jobs scam, Stalin said: “I have already explained in detail about the probative value of observations made by Courts in a judgment directing the investigation. It is not a conclusive finding on the allegations against him and hence has no relevance to decide about the disqualification of a minister.”

Responding to the Governor’s allegation on the attacks on Income-Tax officials who raided Balaji’s properties in Karur, Stalin pointed out that cases had been registered in that regard and action taken in accordance with the law.

He also said, “Your allegations about the same amounts to interfering with the administration of justice since the said issue is seized of by the court and investigating authorities. Also, your apprehension that Senthil Balaji may interfere with the investigation, in this case, is unfounded and baseless.”

Also read: ED arrests Senthil Balaji in midnight action

‘Why sit on prosecution requests?’

In the letter, Stalin also alleged that the Governor continued to maintain an inexplicable silence on the Tamil Nadu government’s requests for sanctions to investigate or prosecute former ministers and public servants for offences committed during the previous AIADMK government

He noted that these requests had been languishing with the Governor for months together.

“Even the request of the CBI for sanction of prosecution in the Gutka case has not been acted upon by you,” Stalin said.

“In fact, these selective actions expose not only your unhealthy bias but also the real intent behind such dual standards adopted by you. Insofar as your allegations on the usage of intemperate language, I wish to inform you that the government of Tamil Nadu has always been according due respect and regard to you and your office. We have always been pleasant, courteous and respectful towards you in line with our Tamil culture. However, that does not mean we have to abide by unconstitutional directives issued by you,” Stalin said.

Related: ED raids Senthil Balaji; search and seizures even at Secretariat

 ‘You have no power to dismiss my ministers’

Reiterating the Constitutional provisions about the removal of a minister in accordance with Article 164(1), Stalin said: “The Governor has no power to decide who should or should not be part of the Cabinet. That is the sole prerogative of the chief minister.”

He added: “The chief minister and his council of ministers are in turn answerable to the elected Legislative Assembly under Article 164(2).”

Stalin also said: “I reiterate that you have no power to dismiss my ministers. That is the sole prerogative of an elected chief minister.”

He continued: “Your unconstitutional communication dismissing my minister without my advice is void ab initio and non-est in law and hence has been disregarded.”