Setback for AAP Govt; HC says LG is Delhi administrative head

Setback for AAP Govt; HC says LG is Delhi administrative headNEW DELHI: In a huge setback for the Arvind Kejriwal Government, the Delhi High Court today held that the LG is the administrative head of National Capital Territory and the AAP Government’s contention that he is bound to act on the advice of Council of Ministers was “without substance”.

The decision comes after months-long turf war between LG Najeeb Jung and Kejriwal for the reins of Delhi.

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath dismissed AAP Government’s plea challenging the Centre’s May 21, 2015, notification giving absolute powers to LG in appointing bureaucrats in the national capital.

The court also quashed several notifications issued by Kejriwal after returning to power last year, saying they were illegal as they were issued without concurrence of LG.

The bench, in its 194-page judgment, said the AAP Government’s contention that the LG is bound to act on the aid and advice of Council of Ministers was “without substance and cannot be accepted”.

After pronouncement of the verdict, the Delhi Government’s senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra said they will immediately file a Special Leave Petition against the judgment in the Supreme Court.
While pronouncing the verdict, the high court said the Centre’s May 21, 2015, notification barring Delhi Government’s Anti-Corruption Branch from proceeding against Central Government employees is neither illegal nor unsustainable.

It also said service matters fall outside the jurisdiction of Delhi Legislative Assembly and the LG exercising the powers in such matter is “not unconstitutional”.

The bench held as illegal AAP government’s order appointing Commission of Inquiry in the CNG fitness scam and Delhi and District Cricket Association scam since the same was issued without concurrence of LG.

The court said the appointment of Nominee Directors of Delhi Government on Board of BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd, BSES Yamuna Power Ltd and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd by the Delhi Power Company Ltd, on the basis of recommendations of the Delhi Chief Minister without communicating the decision to the LG for his views, is “illegal”.

“The proceedings of the Government of NCT of Delhi, Department of Power… dated June 12, 2015 issuing policy directions to the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission regarding disruption in electricity supply to consumers and compensation payable in respect thereof are illegal and unconstitutional since such policy directions cannot be issued without communicating to the LG of NCT of Delhi for his views,” the bench said.

The court, however, said though the LG is competent to appoint Special Public Prosecutor under Section 24(8) of CrPC, such power has to be exercised on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers in terms of Clause (4) of Article 239AA of the Constitution.

The court had earlier reserved its verdict on various aspects including interpretation of Article 239AA of the Constitution which relates to special provisions with respect to Delhi.

The judgment was reserved on nine separate pleas, including those which have sought quashing of the May 21, 2015 order of the Centre barring the ACB from proceeding against any staff under the Centre’s control.

The issues involved the petitions include CNG fitness scam, DDCA scam and revision of circle rate.

The AAP government on May 28 last year had moved the high court, a day after the Centre had approached the Supreme Court challenging an order of the high court which had termed as “suspect” the Union Home Ministry’s notification barring the city government’s ACB from acting against its officers in criminal offences.

The Delhi government had argued that in a democratic set up there cannot be two reporting authorities – the LG and the Chief Minister.

The AAP government has also sought quashing of July 23, 2014 notification, issued by MHA at a time when Delhi did not have an elected government and was under direct rule of the Centre, restricting the executive power of GNCTD acting through ACB to investigate officers and employees of the city government only.

Nine petitions arising out of the spat between the LG and the Delhi government, were heard together by the bench headed by the Chief Justice, which concluded hearing arguments in May this year.

During the hearing, the Centre had told the court that Delhi remained in its control as it was not a full-fledged state.–PTI

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