The stage is set for a full-fledged legal war between the BJP-led NDA at the Centre and the AAP-ruled Delhi government on Friday after a central notification gave an upper hand to lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung in the power tussle with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
The AAP government on Thursday moved the Delhi high court challenging the constitutional validity of the May 21 notification of the Union home ministry, while the Centre sought an urgent hearing of its petition before the Supreme Court against the high court’s order terming the notification as “suspect”.
The legal fight has led to a peculiar situation where issues arising out of the same notification will be heard on the same day by different courts, possibly simultaneously.
Ahead of the crucial court hearings, Jung met Union home secretary LC Goyal and rang up home minister Rajnath Singh as well. Sources said they discussed the government’s stand in the apex court.
The Centre is likely to request the apex court to set aside the high court’s findings on the powers of Delhi government’s anti-corruption branch (ACB) and the comments made on the notification.
It is likely to tell the apex court that the issue of ACB’s power should be decided by a division bench of the high court which was already hearing a Reliance Industries Limited petition on the issue, sources said.
The Delhi government told the high court on Thursday that the Centre has sought to “usurp and arrogate” a wide range of functions which would fall under the subject “services”, leaving the Kejriwal dispensation with little say on its bureaucracy.
The Centre countered through a special leave petition in the Supreme Court, saying there was a need for clear interpretation of Article 239AA of the Constitution that deals with powers of the lieutenant governor and the elected government in Delhi.
Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh on Thursday told the apex court that observations made by the high court in its May 25 verdict have led to uncertainty and made everyday administration of the national capital difficult.
Similarly, Delhi’s standing counsel Pawan Duggal told the high court that curbs on the elected government’s powers were affecting work in crucial departments such as power, water and health was virtually coming to a standstill.
The power struggle between Kejriwal and Jung is rooted in Delhi’s unique position as a union territory functioning as the Capital, with the state government having no say over several important departments and agencies that function under the lieutenant governor, who reports to the Centre.
Kejriwal has accused Jung of “ dancing to the tune ” of the BJP-led Centre to create obstacles for the AAP government.