The Governor v. Government of Delhi
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The timeline of the Governor v. Government of Delhi
July 2013 : Najeeb Jung appointed Lt Governor.
December 2013: Kejriwal becomes Chief Minister after taking outside support from Congress.
- February 2014: The LG sends the draft of Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill to the law ministry saying Centre’s nod mandatory. Later, the Opposition parties did not allow the introduction of the bill in Delhi assembly. Kejriwal resigns seeking a fresh mandate.
- February 2015: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sweeps assembly election. Kejriwal is CM again.
- April 2015: Kejriwal’s orders to route files related to police, public order and land through him. But Jung says not obliged to send files to CM.
- May 2015: Kejriwal accuses IAS officer Shakuntala Gamlin of lobbying for power companies, who is appointed by Jung as acting chief secretary of Delhi due to personal leave of K.K. Sharma. The LG also annuls all bureaucratic postings by the Delhi government, saying all power to appoint and transfer bureaucrats rests with him.
- June 2015: Jung rejects the joining of five officers of Bihar Police in Delhi Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB). He names joint commissioner of Delhi Police M.K. Meena new chief of ACB, much to Kejriwal’s chagrin. Also vetoes Delhi government order to replace Home Secretary Dharam Pal.
- July 2015: Jung questions Delhi government’s appointment of Swati Maliwal as Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson.
- December 2015: CBI raids Chief Minister’s Office. Kejriwal blames Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jung. Administrative officers go on mass leave before odd-even scheme.
- January 2016: Kejriwal blames LG for babus’ strike.
- June 2016: Jung approves ACB filing FIR against Kejriwal and former chief minister Sheila Dikshit in water tanker scam.
- August 2016: Delhi high court ruling favours LG’s role in Delhi’s administration. AAP moves to the Supreme Court. Jung axes Delhi health secretary and PWD secretary, while also setting up a probe panel to review files on decisions taken by Kejriwal government.
- September 2016: Jung dials deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia to return from Finland in the wake of chikungunya outbreak.
- October 2016: Jung appoints IAS officer Alka Diwan as DCW member secretary. Kejriwal seeks her removal in the wake of Diwan’s decision to stop payment of salaries to contractual employees of DCW.
- December 2016: Kejriwal rejects Jung’s replacing Diwan with IAS officer Dilraj Kaur.
The AAP Government and the L-G are allegedly involved in a bitter power tussle over who controls or rather say who has the real authority to command the various departments in the National Capital. The Supreme Court referred the dispute between the AAP government and the Lieutenant Governor over their powers and jurisdiction to a Constitution Bench, saying it involved important questions of law. The Bench headed by Justice AK Sikri, however, did not frame the issues to be considered by the Constitution Bench. It said the parties were free to approach Chief Justice J S Khehar to seek an early setting up of the Bench for speedy disposal of the matter.
Facts of the Case:
Articles 239 and 239AA of the Constitution, as well as the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, clearly say that Delhi is a UT, albeit with an Assembly. Puducherry is in the same boat.
Even the High Court in its judgment has pointed to the fact that even after the Constitution (69th Amendment) Act, 1991, which inserted Article 239AA providing for special provisions for the NCT of Delhi, Delhi remains a UT, and is not like a full state.
Under the constitutional scheme, the Delhi Assembly has the power to legislate on all subjects except subjects like law and order and land. But its power is not absolute, or clearly defined as in full states. Forget the division of power to legislate enunciated by the Constitution under the Seventh Schedule — which deals with subjects under the Central, State and Concurrent Lists — in the case of Delhi (and Puducherry), the law made by Parliament on any matter prevails, even if the state Assembly passes another law on the same subject.
The Transaction of Business of the Government of NCTD Rules, 1993, too has much scope for misunderstanding and misrepresentation. These Rules, among other things, grant too much discretion to the L-G to interfere and, if he so wants, impede the functioning of the Delhi government on every issue. The Rules also provide that in cases where he is unsure of what his stand should be, the L-G is duty-bound to consult the central government through the Union Ministry of Home Affairs “before exercising his powers or discharging his functions in respect of that matter”.
In a setback to the Arvind Kejriwal government, the Supreme Court had refused to stay the Delhi High Court’s verdict declaring the L-G the administrative head of Delhi.
It had also declined to stop functioning of a three-member panel set up by L-G Najeeb Jung to scrutinise 400-odd files relating to decisions taken by the AAP government without his concurrence.
Following the HC order, the appointment of 21 parliamentary secretaries was also declared illegal for want of the L-G’s approval. The AAP government had accused the L-G of acting like an employee of the Centre.