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‘Interesting’ scene in Delhi: Top court on govt-L-G tussle

The Delhi government and the Lt Governor clashed in the apex court over who controls services in the Capital, including the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB).

delhi Updated: Aug 31, 2018 11:54 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Supreme Court,Delhi L-G,Delhi government
Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal shares a light moment with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in this file photo. The AAP govt and the L-G have been at loggerheads over power-sharing.(HT File Photo)

The situation in Delhi is “anamolous” and “interesting,” the Supreme Court said on Thursday while hearing petitions arising out of the dispute between the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government and the Centre-appointed Lieutenant-Governor, over who controls services in the Capital, including the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB).

Justice AK Sikri, who along with Justice Ashok Bhushan, is hearing the petitions said: “This is a very interesting situation, rather anomalous situation. They (Centre through the L-G) have the police and you (Delhi government) have the police station (ACB).”

The judge’s verbal remarks came at a time when senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, arguing for the Delhi government, said the elected government had legitimate control over the ACB.

Naphade questioned the validity of two notifications, issued by the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) in 2014 and 2015, that took central government employees out of the ACB’s jurisdiction.

The notifications, the advocate argued, created two classes of government employees, one that could be prosecuted by the ACB and the other against which no action could be taken. This kind of classification was wrong and, therefore, the notifications were arbitrary, Naphade contended. He said the appointment of a public prosecutor and investigation under the criminal procedure code lay with the state.

The bench is hearing individual disputes between the L-G and the elected government. The hearing on the petitions began after a five-judge Constitution Bench held that the L-G was bound by the aid and advice of the elected government except in three areas – law and order, police and land.

The verdict outlined the broad contours of the constitutional relationship between the two sides. The AAP government and the L-G have been at loggerheads ever since the party came to power in the Capital. The Delhi High Court had last year ruled against the Delhi government, which later preferred an appeal.

Earlier, senior counsel P Chidambaram, also arguing for the Delhi government, submitted that cadre allocation of central services was the Centre’s job but the posting of the bureaucrats had to be done by the elected government.

On Wednesday he had said the Centre did not control DANICS and DANIPS as long as they were posted in the national Capital. The L-G, he submitted, cannot control or order the transfer and posting of such officers.

First Published: Aug 31, 2018 03:07 IST