Referendum on Delhi statehood has no statutory backing: Experts

  • IANS, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 26, 2016 20:19 IST
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. (PTI)

The AAP government’s move to hold a referendum in Delhi for full statehood does not have a constitutional backing, say experts and also note that there was no provision for the Delhi assembly to summon the city’s Lt Governor.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, in reference to Britain’s referendum on leaving the European Union, said on Friday that Delhi will soon have a referendum on obtaining full statehood.

There also has been a move by the Delhi assembly’s Petition Committee to summon Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and Delhi Anti-Corruption Bureau chief M K Meena before it for “no action” on the FIRs over alleged wrongdoings during the tenure of the Sheila Dikshit government.

Former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash C Kashyap said that the proposal for a referendum on Delhi’s statehood and the decision to summon the Lt Governor before the assembly were a clear violation of the Constitution.

“These are not in accordance with the Constitution,” Kashyap told IANS.

He said that the move to have a referendum on Delhi’s statehood was guided by political considerations.

S K Sharma, who served as the Delhi assembly Secretary under four chief ministers, told IANS that there was no legal basis to the proposal to hold a referendum and the move to summon the LG before the assembly panel.

“As far as summoning Lt. Governor is concerned, I don’t think it is correct. Can parliament of India summon President? Assemblies are replica of parliament. If parliament can summon the President, then LG can also be summoned,” Sharma told IANS.

He said if the Delhi assembly summons Jung and he is advised by Rashtrapati Bhavan not to follow such summons, will the Delhi assembly then summon the President also.

“As far as the proposal of referendum over Delhi statehood is concerned, there is no mention of word referendum in the Constitution. This demand itself is anarchist. Demand of referendum is very dangerous for the country. There can be demands for such referendums in different parts of the country,” Sharma said.

Former Lok Sabha Secretary General P.D.T. Achary said that the move for referendum did not have “legal and constitutional sanction”.

Noting that the Delhi government had “jurisdictional problems” with the central government and the matters will be settled by a verdict of the Supreme Court, he also said that there were ways other than referendum to build pressure for statehood.

“On the issue of statehood, there can be democratic methods of building political pressure such as holding public meetings,” he said.

Achary also held that it was not possible for the Delhi assembly to summon the Lt. Governor. “It is the LG who summons the house,” he said.

Delhi Deputy Speaker Rakhi Birla, who heads the Petitions Committee of the house, said on Thursday that the panel had decided to summon Jung and Meena for “no action” on the FIRs pertaining to the Dikshit government. However, she said that legal opinion will also be sought over the matter.

There has been confrontation between the Aam Aadmi Party government and Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government on a range of issues.

The latest flashpoint has been the arrest of AAP legislator Dinesh Mohaniya over charges of sexual harassment, which caused Kejriwal to accuse Prime Minister Narendra Modi of declaring “Emergency” in the national capital and of police filing “false cases” against his party legislators.

The AAP government has also repeatedly demanded that Delhi should become a full-fledged state.

At present, the powers of the Delhi government are limited as key subjects such as land, police and public order are with the central government.

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