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Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal says L-G refusing to let go of services as power tussle continues

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the refusal to obey the Supreme Court’s order would lead to “anarchy” in the country and blamed the central government for advising the L-G not to follow the court order.

delhi Updated: Jul 07, 2018 07:50 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi chief minister,Arvind Kejriwal,AAP
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal arrives at Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal’s residence for a meeting, in New Delhi.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

The stand-off between Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and the lieutenant governor (L-G) continued for the second day after a Supreme Court order on Wednesday defining the roles of the two, with the former alleging that the central government was asking the L-G not to follow the court’s orders.

The comments came after a meeting between chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and L-G Anil Baijal on Friday during which the latter refused to give control of the services department to the elected government, saying the issue of who has powers to decide postings and transfers of officials is still pending before the apex court.

Kejriwal said the refusal to obey SC’s order would lead to “anarchy” in the country and blamed the central government for advising the L-G not to follow the court order. The CM later sought time from union home minister Rajnath Singh, saying he would urge him to follow the SC orders, which he said gave the elected government control over all administrative matters except police, public order and land.

A home ministry official said on condition of anonymity that there is “no way the government will not adhere to the apex court’s directions” but added that the court “was silent on the issue of transfers.” “The rest of the issues, whatever they may be, will be resolved cordially,” this person added.

The ruling of the apex court’s Constitution bench did not specifically rule on the contentious “services” issue. This will be decided by a two-judge bench of the court that is looking at the various issues being disputed by the central government and the government of Delhi. On Thursday, union minister Arun Jaitley said in a blog that it would be “wholly erroneous” to presume that the court’s ruling had given the AAP government administrative powers over union territory cadre officers.

Kejriwal and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia met Baijal on Friday to discuss the implementation of the apex court’s order, which stated that the L-G must act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers, except on the three issues over which he had primacy. The meeting, the first one after Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues staged a nine-day sit-in at the L-G’s office last month, was cordial but Baijal accepted only one of the duo’s two demands.

The L-G said he wouldn’t give “us the services department, which deals with transfers, postings, promotions, disciplinary actions and regularising contractual workers, but agreed that all files now need not be sent to him for approval, Kejriwal told reporters after his 25-minute meeting with the L-G.

Subsequently, Baijal wrote to Kejrwal on Friday evening saying that while his concurrence was not required on decisions made by the council of ministers, he should be “kept informed”.

Kejriwal alleged that the ministry of home affairs had advised the L-G to ignore the part of the SC order which restricts L-G’s powers to three subjects – land, police and law and order. “It is very dangerous that central government is advising the L-G not to follow the SC orders.”

“The MHA (ministry of home affairs) has not advised the LG to ignore any part of the SC order. This is a misleading statement,” the home ministry said in a statement on Friday night, adding that it would be against the law to take a final view on the matter related to services until the issue is addressed by a regular bench.

The home ministry official cited above confirmed that Kejriwal had sought time from the Union home minister, but added that owing to the fact that Rajnath Singh was currently out of the city, a response is yet to be given to the Delhi chief minister.

The chief minister alleged that keeping the services department with the L-G was a “conspiracy” by the Centre to “paralyse” the AAP government. “It is the first time in the history of India that the Central government has openly refused to obey an SC order,” Kejriwal said his government is consulting lawyers on whether the LG’s refusal to abide by the SC order will amount to contempt of court.

First Published: Jul 06, 2018 23:47 IST