Often considered to be a post-retirement relaxed job, the lieutenant governorship of Delhi was not that easy for Najeeb Jung who had an internecine relationship with the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government.
For most part of his three-and-a-half-year stint, Jung hit headlines as he was engaged in a bitter turf war with the Kejriwal government over who controls Delhi’s administration. Be it Delhi Police, the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) or the transfer of bureaucrats – the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government constantly questioned his authority and even dragged him to courts.
The power struggle is rooted in Delhi’s unique position: a Union territory functioning as the Capital with the elected government having negligible say over important departments and agencies. This was the main grouse of the AAP government that accused Jung of acting as an agent of the BJP-led central government.
The warring reached a crescendo on May 21, 2015 when the Union home ministry issued a notification reiterating the L-G’s superiority in the administrative set-up of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi. It clarified that the elected government of Delhi had limited control over the ACB and the L-G had jurisdiction in respect of matters pertaining to public order, police, land and services.
On matters relating to services of bureaucrats, the notification left it to be settled by the L-G, allowing him discretionary power to seek the opinion of the chief minister only when he deemed it fit.
The court battle that ensued had many twists and turns; nine cases arose out of the power-tussle between the L-G and the Delhi government over Centre’s notifications, including the May 21, 2015 one.
Initially, the Delhi high court termed the May 21, 2015 notification “suspect” but ultimately went on to declare L-G as the boss of NCT.
In a major blow to the AAP government, the Delhi high court on August 4 ruled that the L-G was not bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers. After analysing Article 239AA of the Constitution and the NCT Act, 1993, the HC said Delhi continues to be a Union territory. The council of ministers in Delhi could not issue any notification without sending it to the L-G whose decision would be final on these issues, it held.
The HC ruled in favour of the Union home ministry notification which had declared that the ACB cannot initiate any action against central government employees and its power was limited only to Delhi government officials. The court also quashed the commission of enquiry set up by the Delhi government in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) scam and the CNG fitness scam.
Now the AAP government’s appeal against the high court’s verdict is pending before the Supreme Court, which on December 14 said: “An elected government should have some power, otherwise the government cannot function.”
The Supreme Court will next hear the matter on January 18, 2017, but Jung won’t be there as L-G to see the final outcome.