The elections to the Delhi assembly are unlikely to be held with this summer’s Lok Sabha polls, a demand Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has gone to the Supreme Court with.
On Monday, the top court issued a notice to the Centre on an AAP petition seeking directions to the lieutenant governor to dissolve the Delhi assembly and hold fresh elections along with the Lok Sabha polls that are likely to be held in April-May.
AAP’s plea for simultaneous polls may become infructuous as the court proceedings on its petition are expected to take time and the Election Commission (EC) is likely to issue notification for the Lok Sabha polls in the first week of March. AAP’s petition will now be heard on March 7.
As per rules, the EC has to hold elections within six months of the governor/ lieutenant governor informing it about the dissolution of the assembly.
Delhi was put under President’s rule and the assembly kept under suspended animation after Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet resigned on February 14, 49 days after coming to power.
A bench of justice RM Lodha and justice Dipak Misra gave 10 days to the Centre to respond to AAP’s petition. AAP has challenged February 16 notification imposing President’s rule in the Capital.
The top court is to examine the constitutional validity of the President’s decision to keep the assembly under “suspended animation” despite no party being in a position to form the government.
The bench, however, declined to issue notices to the Congress and BJP, saying, “This is a constitutional issue... we don’t want any debate or contest on politics.”
On behalf of AAP, senior advocate Fali Nariman argued the President could not have kept the assembly under suspended animation, particularly when both the BJP and Congress had expressed inability to form a government after the resignation of Kejriwal.
In its petition AAP said after Kejriwal resigned on February 14, the BJP had said in the absence of a majority, it would not stake claim to the government. The lieutenant governor recommended placing the assembly under suspended animation even though the government had asked for the House to be dissolved, it said.
The petitioners, including Saurabh Bhardwaj who was Kejriwal’s transport minister, alleged that the President’s rule was imposed with a view to protect Congress leaders and former CM Sheila Dikshit from corruption charges and to frustrate the ongoing investigation in cases lodged by the Kejriwal government.