Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung are on a collision course, with the AAP leader directing that all files pertaining to reserved subjects of police, public order and land be routed through him.
These subjects are considered to be within the executive domain of the lieutenant governor (L-G) in his capacity as representative of the Centre. The L-G, appointed by president under Article 239 and designated as such under Article 239AA of the Constitution, is defined as “government” in the National Capital Territory of Delhi according to a 2002 order of the home ministry.
Kejriwal made his move within 11 days of being sworn in as chief minister. On February 25, he wrote a letter to L-G Jung, drawing his attention to often amended second proviso to Rule 45 of Transaction of Business of the Government of NCT of Delhi Rules, 1993. “Provided further that the L-G shall in respect of matters connected with public order, police and land exercise his executive functions to the extent delegated to him by the President, in consultation with chief minister if it is so provided under any order issued by the President under Article 239 of the Constitution,” Kejriwal quoted the rule in his letter. Leveraging the proviso, he went on to say: “In accordance with the provision cited above, I am issuing necessary instructions to the home department and the land and building department to route files pertaining to matters connected with public order, police and land through Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).”
This means that Kejriwal now has a direct say in dealing with the Delhi Police and Delhi Development Authority. The letter has been brought to the notice of Union Home Ministry. Senior advocate and former Additional Solicitor General Vikas Singh said: “The rule itself does not give him (Kejriwal) any authority to intervene in these matters. This power could be exercised by the chief minister only if Parliament further vests such power in him. Till this is done, he can’t exercise any authority in respect of these subjects. The LG acts as a representative of the Central Government under Article 239AA of the Constitution.”
A day before Kejriwal’s missive to Jung, a circular was issued by general administration department to all the principal secretaries of the Delhi government that all files marked to the L-G, except those pertaining to parole, should be routed through the CMO.
Kejriwal’s directions were reiterated by his secretary Rajendra Kumar the next day. Files on the three reserved subjects are being routed through Kejriwal’s office since then, with Raj Bhawan left awaiting the home ministry’s intervention.
Before it acts, the home ministry is examining a September 24, 1998 gazette notification that says: “L-G of NCT of Delhi shall in respect of matters connected with public order, police and 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, in consultation with the chief minister except in those cases where, for reasons to be recorded in writing, he does not consider it expedient to do so.”
Kejriwal’s move to achieve statehood—if only on paper—may not last. “During my time, the chief minister never asked to see the files on police or such subjects. As of now, the chief minister has no say in such matters and it is up to the L-G to decide. If now the idea is to actually start contributing, giving suggestions which the L-G doesn’t accept, it will lead to trouble. There must be a better way of involving the chief minister,” said Shailaja Chandra, chief secretary of Delhi from 2002 to 2004.