Yet another Supreme Court judge recused himself from hearing the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government’s petition against the Centre regarding administrative control of the national capital, pushing the matter to Friday.
A bench was due to hear the dispute on Tuesday after justice JS Kehar declined to do so on Monday. A new bench is set to hear the matter now.
The AAP government and Centre have been locked in a battle over governance in Delhi for most of the party’s tenure, leading to the ruling party seeking the apex court’s intervention in resolving the matter.
“List the matter before a bench of which justice Kehar is not a part,” the bench, comprising justice AM Sapre as well, ordered on Monday. Justice Kehar didn’t give any reason for his recusal.
AAP had earlier placed its objections before the Delhi high court, but a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) reserved its verdict stating the matter was constitutional and only the apex court had the authority to decide it.
During the hearing on Monday, the opposing counsels were in a war of words after Indira Jaising, who is representing the AAP government, requested for the petition to be listed for Tuesday.
Though agreeing at first, the Centre’s counsel, attorney general Mukul Rohtagi, objected to seeking an early hearing on the grounds that it broke protocol. According to the SC rules, only the CJI can issue administrative orders for an early hearing.
“I don’t expect the Attorney General to behave like this,” Jaising said to which Rohatgi replied: “I am simply reminding you of the procedure.”
Justice Kehar however promptly intervened and told Rohatgi: “Once you have consented to a woman you cannot withdraw it.”
In its petition, the AAP government alleged has alleged that it is unable to function as the lieutenant governor, at the behest of the Centre, either annuls or changes its decisions on the ground that Delhi is not a complete state.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government wants the apex court to interpret Article 239A, the special provision with respect to Delhi that recognises it as a state but does not accord it full-fledged statehood.