Hours after Chief Minister V Narayanasamy termed the Assembly Speaker's ruling over replacing a top civic official as "final", Lt Governor Kiran Bedi again said the transfer order was invalid.
She said an officer appointed by the Lt Governor can be removed only by the Lt Governor.
"The order of transfer of Municipal Commissioner of Puducherry is not a small administrative routine matter. It is of an officer appointed by the Lt Governor who could be removed only by the Lt Governor," she said in a press release.
She reiterated that the transfer order was invalid.
Bedi said the chief minister was taking responsibility for the transfer order as "he now knows that the chief secretary is vulnerable to departmental action for violation of rules".
She also pointed out that the chief secretary had done so despite her warning through e-mail a day before he issued the order.
Bedi said under the Business Rules, the Legislature is not empowered to make appointments. The chief minister could propose names for transfers and postings but the final decision is of the Lt Governor as per Rule 47, she said.
"There are many of such propositions I have accepted or declined and they are all a matter of record," Bedi said.
"If the chief minister and his ministers have anything to say now, they are free to approach the Government of India or the higher courts and seek clarification," she said.
"As of now I have fulfilled my responsibility as laid down under the rules and also endorsed by the Union Home Ministry," she said.
Narayanasamy had earlier said the ruling was final on replacement of Municipal Commissioner R Chandrasekaran, an issue over which Bedi has locked horns with the government.
Bedi had then too termed as "invalid" the replacement of Chandrasekaran based on a ruling of Speaker V Vaithilingam on March 30 and said she was the "competent authority" on officials' service matters.
The Speaker had ordered replacement of the Commissioner after an opposition AIADMK (Amma) MLA raised a Privilege issue against him.
Narayanasamy had said the ruling was implemented
immediately by him as chief minister as per rules governing the Union Territory administration. It was in final and total agreement with provisions of Rule 312 of Business Rules of the Assembly and cannot be changed by any other source, he said.
He said he had also written a detailed letter to Bedi about "the full proceedings on the floor of the House on March 30 relating to the debate on the Commissioner, the ruling of the Speaker and its immediate implementation".
He said he had also simultaneously apprised the Prime Minister and Home Minister about the Speaker's ruling and its implementation.
Narayanasamy said rules relating to administration clearly stated that the CM had full statutory powers to issue orders to keep an officer under compulsory wait or to assign additional charge of a post to another officer.
He said there were statutory provisions which stated that "the Lt Governor should consult with the Chief Minister before issuing administrative orders or taking any decision as is required under the Business Rules of the Administration."
The Chief Minister contended that his ministry was functioning as per provisions of the rules. Similarly, officials, including the chief secretary, were all discharging their duties in keeping with the statutory provisions.
Bedi, who was away when the Speaker's ruling was given, had on March 31 said the order replacing the official had been issued without due approval by the competent authority as mandated under the rules.
The BJP leader, who assumed office of Lt Governor in May last year, has been at loggerheads with the government on some issues including "lack of cooperation" with her Clean Puducherry mission.
She had even threatened to quit and leave the UT if there was no improvement in the situation.