The Delhi high court on Thursday told the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government that Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor is not required to act on the advice of the Delhi cabinet. This comes as a blow to Arvind Kejriwal’s bid to corner more executive powers into the Delhi CM’s office.
The Delhi government has said it would appeal against the Delhi HC ruling in the Supreme Court. “We will move the Supreme Court against the HC verdict,” Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain said.
The Minister alleged said that the Kejriwal government has been prevented by the Centre from taking any action against corruption since it was formed.
Bringing an end to tussle between the cabinet form of governance in Delhi and the Lieutenant Governor, a Bench headed by Chief Justice G. Rohini held that “The matters connected with ‘Services’ fall outside the purview of the Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi… Therefore, the direction in the impugned Notification (of the Centre) of February, 2015 that the Lt. Governor of the NCT of Delhi shall in respect of matters connected with ‘Services’ exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the Central Government to the extent delegated to him from time to time by the President is neither illegal nor unconstitutional.”
The court also scrapped the AAP government’s directive to the city power regulator to compensate consumers in case of unscheduled power cuts as the decision wasn’t communicated to the L-G.
“On a reading of Article 239 and Article 239AA (special provisions to Delhi) of the Constitution together with the provisions of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991… it becomes manifest that Delhi continues to be a Union Territory,” the bench said.
This means the city government has no control over important departments such as law and order and agencies such as the Delhi Development Authority.
The power struggle is rooted in Delhi’s unique position as a union territory functioning as the Capital, with the state government having no say over important departments and agencies.
The tussle reached the high court after the Delhi government challenged the Centre’s May 21, 2015 notification that gave the L-G absolute powers in appointing bureaucrats in the Capital.
The Delhi government had argued that in a democratic set up there cannot be two reporting authorities. The Centre however had contended that as a Union Territory, Delhi was not a full-fledged state, and that control over its government rests in the hands of the Union Home Ministry.