Bengaluru, Oct 10: In the past week, there has been a call by several members in the Tamil Nadu opposition to appoint an interim Chief Minister since J Jayalalithaa is recovering in hospital. The question is, whether the Constitution provides for the appointment of an interim chief minister when the head of the government is not in a position to take decisions?
There is nothing specifically mentioned in the Indian Constitution when such a scenario arises. In such cases, it is the Governor who oversees the administration on the advise of the council of ministers.
However, in case the ruling party decides to name an interim Chief Minister, then there is no bar on the same.
Tamil Nadu had faced a same situation in 1984. On October 5 1984, when the then Chief Minister, M G Ramachandran was admitted to hospital after he complained of breathlessness, there was a vacuum that had been created in the state administration.
This month that year
MGR was moved to the Apollo hospital and everything was done to conceal the news. While the news was sucessfully concealed for a day, MGR's prolonged hospitalisation got the rumour mills buzzing. With several leaders visiting the hospital, regular medical bulletins were being issued.
The hospital declared that MGR would be out of action for long. The then governor of Tamil Nadu, S L Khurana faced a difficult situation. He met with the Advocate General and sought advise on how to tackle the situation.
It was then that the Finance Minister of the state, V R Nedunchezian called on the governor and told him that he was instructed by MGR to run the administration.
The governor, however, conveyed to Nedunchezian that during his meeting with MGR in the hospital, nothing to this effect was conveyed to him. The governor then said that the Cabinet could not meet and also said no major policy decisions could be taken in the absence of the Chief Minister.
However, later on, the Chief Secretary and the private secretary to MGR conveyed that Nedunchezian would be in charge of the administration. A five member cabinet committee under Nedunchezian decided to fly MGR to New York for treatment and also authorised the government to bear the expenses.