After a long time, the NDA government on Thursday tasted legal victory in a major case with the Delhi high court upholding its position on the power tussle between the lieutenant governor and Arvind Kejriwal government.
The victory, coming after a series of severe setbacks in courts, is significant as a bench of chief justice G Rohini and justice Jayant Nath agreed with the Centre’s contention that the L-G is the real boss in Delhi.
Be it declaring the L-G’s superior status or the control over central government services, the anti-corruption branch’s power to probe central employees or setting up of commissions of inquiry without the L-G’s nod, the high court upheld the Centre’s position throughout.
“The honourable high court upheld almost all our contentions. The underlying message of the verdict is that political leaders should attempt to realise their ambitions within the constitutional framework and they can’t go beyond it,” said additional solicitor general, Sanjay Jain, who represented the Centre in this case.
Starting with the October 16, 2015 Supreme Court verdict quashing the National Judicial Appointments Commission, the Narendra Modi government has had a series of embarrassing legal debacles that fed the opposition’s on the government, both in Parliament and outside.
After initial bickering, the NDA government accepted the constitution bench verdict but its tussle with the judiciary over judicial appointments continued, particularly over drafting of the memorandum of procedure that emerged as a contentious issue.
Twenty-five days after the Harish Rawat-led Congress government was dismissed in Uttarakhand, the state high court on April 21 set aside President’s rule, declaring it unconstitutional. After a floor test on May 10, the Supreme Court revived the Rawat government even as the Centre’s petition against the high court verdict remains pending.
The NDA government’s January 26 decision to impose President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh too didn’t find favour with the Supreme Court declaring it unconstitutional. On July 13, a constitution bench headed by justice JS Khehar ordered restoration of the Congress government and indicted the governor.
“The Governor must keep clear of any political horse-trading, and even unsavoury political manipulations, irrespective of the degree of their ethical repulsiveness. Who should or should not be a leader of a political party, is a political question, to be dealt with and resolved privately by the political party itself. The Governor cannot make such issues a matter of his concern,” it said.
The SC verdict was seen as an indirect indictment of the Centre that had chosen to impose President’s rule in the northeastern state.
In the drought case, the court criticised the NDA government for delay in relief work. “It’s meaningless to have welfare schemes if affected persons do not receive assured benefits on time. Thousands of crores are announced from the PM Relief Fund but the money reaches after three years,” a bench headed by justice MB Lokur had said.
But after Thursday’s Delhi high court verdict, the NDA government can aggressively take on the AAP and the Kejriwal government – which has been quite vocal in their attack on BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.