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AAP vs Najeeb Jung: seven issues Delhi HC ruled in favour of LG

Catch Team | Updated on: 11 February 2017, 7:51 IST

Power play

  • The power tussle between AAP and Delhi\'s LG has been going on for a while
  • The latest high court ruling however puts AAP on the backfoot in this power struggle
  • Delhi HC declares that Jung is the only administrative head in the Capital

More in the story

  • Seven things the HC ruled in Jung\'s favour
  • How do these rulings affect AAP\'s plans

In the war of authority between AAP-ruled Delhi Assembly and the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi, it was the LG who won the big battle on Thursday.

The Delhi High Court firmly established the superiority of the LG over the Assembly on a number of matters and ruled that he alone was the administrative head of the national Capital.

The court ruled in favour of the LG on some jurisdictional issues and quashed several orders and notifications issued by the Delhi government where the LG's approval was not taken into account.

The bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath upheld the Centre's 21 May, 2015, notification, giving absolute powers to LG in appointing bureaucrats in the Capital and dismissed the AAP government's plea challenging it.

Also Read: Lt Governor Najeeb Jung is administrative head of NCT, rules HC. AAP govt to move to SC

While Najeeb Jung, in a rare press conference, played down the fact that court had ruled most matters in his favour, the fact is Thursday's judgment was a heavy blow for the AAP government.

"It is not a victory for anyone. It is not a win for Najeeb Jung and loss for Arvind Kejriwal. The court order is a kind of clarification that incorrect things will have to be corrected," Jung said in the conference.

On the other hand, AAP leaders could not help sulking at the order. "If Delhi was to be run by the Lt Governor, then why was the Constitution amended to have state Assembly? Why is there a provision to have an elected government? We were targeted as we tried to rid the city of corruption," Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said in a press conference.

To give you an idea of what the Delhi High Court order means for Kejriwal and Najeeb Jung, we provide you with a list of seven significant observations made by the court:

1. Delhi a union territory; LG its administrative head

The Delhi government argued that as it was given a special status under Article 293 AA, the LG of this territory was bound to listen to and act according to the council of ministers, just as it happens in a state.

The court, however, ruled "the position of the union territories cannot be equated with that of the states,' and so they cannot 'avail of the privileges available to the states."

According to the Constitution: 'A union territory shall be administered by the President through an administrator appointed by him,' The court ruled. That, basically, is the LG.

The court specified that the authority of the 'Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, shall in respect of matters connected with 'Public Order', 'Police', 'Land' and 'Services'.

2. LG not bound by the advice of the council of ministers

One of the arguments that Kejriwal and spokespersons of his party had repeated in several press conferences, and in court, was that the LG was bound to listen to, and act on, the advice of the council of ministers of the Delhi Assembly.

But in a blow to the AAP government, the court completely turned the tables around.

According to the court, it was in fact mandatory for the council of ministers to actually consult the LG on all matters on which he may not have the final say, and even then the Assembly can only issue an order when LG agrees with their suggestions.

'Hence, the contention on behalf of the Government of NCT of Delhi, that the Lt. Governor is bound to act only on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, is untenable and cannot be accepted.'

3. Delhi Anti-corruption Bureau limited to Delhi government departments only

This was a crucial test of powers for the Kejriwal government. Through their anti-corruption crusade, the government meant to take on the highest bureaucrats and police officials by launching investigations against them.

If the court had ruled in Delhi government's favour, it would have escalated the power struggle and given huge powers to AAP.

But the court ruled that the powers of Delhi's ACB were confined to the employees of Delhi government only.

The court ruled that "It is evident that the jurisdiction of ACB is limited to curbing corruption in various departments of the Delhi Administration as well as other statutory bodies over which the Lt. Governor exercises control...in other words, the officers and employees of the central government have not been brought within the purview of ACB, GNCTD."

4. Delhi government-appointed commission of inquiries illegal

This is perhaps one of the bigger political setbacks for the Delhi government. In one swoop the court declared all commissions of inquiries appointed by the Delhi government illegal.

So Kejriwal's efforts to nail Arun Jaitley in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) 'scam' and to corner former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit in the 'CNG fitness scam' fell flat.

Kejriwal's Cabinet on 13 June constituted two special committees, comprising nine members each, to probe financial irregularities in those cases and generated political mileage.

But the court ruled that 'the Lt. Governor acting through the Central Government alone is competent to appoint a Commission of Inquiry in relation to administration of Delhi which continues to be a Union Territory even after insertion of Article 239AA to the Constitution.'

5. Delhi govt cannot appoint nominees in discom boards

In late June when the AAP government appointed three party members to the board of directors of power distributing companies, many saw it as another provocation to the LG and escalation the ongoing power tussle between the two.

The AAP government appointed three chartered accountants to the board of three discoms: BSES Yamuna Power Ltd, BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd, claiming a 49% stake in power discoms in the name of the President of India.

This was the first time that private members were nominated to represent the Delhi Government in the discoms.

Kejriwal defended the move by claiming to have his men check on alleged widespread corruption going on there.

The court did not find any logic in him claiming a 49% stake in the discoms and termed this move illegal.

6. Cannot ask discoms to compensate consumers for outages

First came a warning by the Delhi power regulator Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) to discoms to compensate consumers for unscheduled outages extending up to two hours.

Then Kejriwal himself issued an order to the effect that ordered discoms to compensate consumers for even one-hour-long outages.

Because he did not take the LG on board while making this decision, the high court termed this order illegal.

7. Cannot raise circle rates of agricultural land

In a move to appease the farmers, in the last week of June AAP government had proposed to raise the circle rate of agricultural land by up to 125%.

For the same reason, that the government had not consulted the LG before making this move, the high court scrapped this order as well.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

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First published: 5 August 2016, 10:16 IST