Jung wins the first bout
HC declares LG the administrative head of Delhi, AAP heads to SC
Shibu Kumar Tripathi Delhi
In a major setback to the Aam Aadmi Party, the Delhi High Court on Thursday ruled that the Lieutenant Governor is the administrative head of the National Capital Territory (NCT). The court directed that the state government’s contention that the LG should act on the advice of the cabinet of ministers is not sustainable. The state government is now going to appeal this order in the Supreme Court.
The bench comprised of Chief justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath was hearing a petition filed by the Delhi government after LG Dr. Najeeb Jung struck down several decisions taken by the Kejriwal government.
The court’s judgment has held that despite the enactment of article 239AA, the effect of article 239 would not be diluted with respect to the NCT of Delhi, and that the NCT of Delhi continues to be a Union Territory. The decision makes it mandatory for the Delhi government to involve and get the agreement of the LG in matters related to the NCT. The decision has caused ripples that affect numerous decisions of the Delhi government: orders related to the setting up of a commission of enquiry in the CNG fitness scam and the highly talked about DDCA scam will now be illegal, as will enhancement of circle rates, since none of these has concurrence from LG Najeeb Jung.
The state government and Lieutenant Governor have been involved in a continuous tussle ever since the AAP formed its government in Delhi. The AAP has been regularly accusing the LG’s office of being influenced by the NDA government in matters relating to the exercise of government powers and functions. The tussle worsened after the Chief Minister’s office and the LG’s office challenged each other on regular powers related to the appointment of the Chief of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and appointment of Parliament Secretaries. Unlike other Union Territories, Delhi is guided by the laws of the National Capital Territory, which vest power in the hands of the LG. Advocate Anil Soni, who represented the central government, said that “the state government will now have to take the office of the LG in confidence in matters pertaining to policy making. The LG remains supreme in matters related to administration of Delhi.”
Reacting to the developments, Saurabh Bhardawaj, Secretary, AAP, said, “We are going to study the order of the High Court and will then form a legal strategy over the matter.” He added that that the AAP was “going to appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the High Court’s orders.”
AAP’s Delhi Convener, Dilip Pandey, tweeted, “AAP’s belief in democratic values is immovable, humbly disagree with the High Court’s decision, to safeguard the interests of Delhi’s citizens approaching SC is required.”
Former AAP member and now founder of the Swaraj Abhiyan Yogendra Yadav tweeted, “moral of Delhi HC verdict: you can’t govern without understanding the grammar of governance.” In another tweet he accused the Delhi government of pushing Delhi and its citizen back.