In giving AAP its office back, Delhi HC has punctured BJP's offensive
In fact, as a Delhi High Court order has shown, BJP may have not hesitated in misusing even constitutional offices to corner AAP.
In April 2017, Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had ordered the cancellation of the allotment of a bungalow in central Delhi to AAP for office work. The High Court on 22 Ausgut set aside that order, saying the latter gave no reason justifying the cancellation.
The L-G's order did not specify which law or rule was violated by the allotment, the court said. The court also hinted at arbitrariness behind LG's order, noting that the policy for allotting accommodation to political parties had to be applied uniformly.
It must be recalled that Baijal had issued this order based on the findings of a committee set up by his predecessor to examine over 400 decisions taken by the AAP-government in Delhi. The VK Shunglu committee had noted that the decision to allot the bungalow on 206, Rouse Avenue, as office to AAP should be “deemed null and void”, because “land is a reserved subject”.
After the committee submitted its report to L-G's office, the Public Works Department (PWD) of Delhi government issued a notice to AAP to vacate the Rouse Avenue premises. PWD then went on to slap a fine of Rs 27 lakh on AAP for “unauthorised occupation”.
The High Court on 22 August order also put in abeyance two of PWD's orders imposing the said fine and rejecting AAP's request for alternative accommodation.
An embattled AAP
The court's order clearly shows that this was an entirely avoidable controversy that was deliberately created by BJP, using the office of the L-G as well as the Shunglu Committee. The attempt was to corner AAP from all sides.
One, the 404 files that the committee studied have led to complete stoppage of work on multiple fronts on which the AAP government was working. These include set up and management of mohalla clinics, installation of CCTV cameras in the city, maintenance of PWD roads, installation of street lights, large scale appointments in schools run by the Delhi government and many others.
Two, the Committee also froze the appointment of professionals drawn from various backgrounds to manage AAP-government's projects in various areas like education, water management, tourism, health and others.
Three, the impact of the Committee's work was unfolding in the national capital when CBI was raiding top officials of the Delhi government, including former Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Rajendra Kumar, and former Health Secretary, Tarun Seem.
Four, Kejriwal is already battling the BJP on the personal front, thanks to a defamation suit filed against him by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Five, AAP also saw attempts at an internal coup within the party, with a former minister in Kejriwal's cabinet, Kapil Mishra, rebelling against him. One of AAP founders, Kumar Vishvas, was also reportedly a part of the conspiracy. He, along with Mishra, was allegedly trying to entice a large number of AAP's MLAs in Delhi to rebel against Kejriwal.
Six, several cases have been filed in the last two years against many of AAP's MLA and a large number of these cases have failed to pass judicial scrutiny and have fallen.
While many of these battles continue for AAP, this case involving its office will certainly come as a breather and as a morale booster. The Delhi High Court has asked LG's office to hear what AAP has to say on the matter and “pass a reasoned order” within eight weeks. The LG's next step will indicate if BJP has learnt its lesson well or it intends to continue the underhand offensive against AAP.