Delhi: In Kejriwal vs Jung tussle, letter from Chidambaram crops up
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has cited a 2011 communication by former home minister P Chidambaram to the Delhi government in ourder to counter lieutenant governor (LG) Najeeb Jung's assertion that the 'government' in Delhi meant the LG.
The fresh letter cropped up in the wake of Jung seeking an explanation from the Delhi government on how Swati Maliwal, wife of an AAP leader, was appointed as the chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) without his approval. Scrapping the appointment, Jung had declared his office synonymous with the government of Delhi, referring to a home ministry order of 2002.
Officials in the Delhi government said that Chidambaram, in a letter to then chief minister Sheila Dikshit, had clearly "clarified" that government in the national capital meant the elected government and that the lieutenant governor was "bound" to act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
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Chidambaram, in the letter dated January 31, 2011, had cited the then attorney general Goolam E Vahanvati to clarify the Delhi government's queries on whether it had the right to fix circle rates.
In the letter to Dikshit, Chidambaram -- quoting the attorney general's views -- said the term government, according to the provisions of the Indian Stamp Act, 1899, the Delhi Stamp (Prevention of Undervaluation of Instruments) Rules, 2007, and Entry 63 of List II of the seventh schedule of the Constitution, means the government of NCT.
The letter came in response to the Dikshit government's queries about whether it has powers to fix cirle rates in the city.
"Hence the Government of Delhi has the right to fix the minimum rates and Lt governor is bound to act on the aid and advice of the government of Delhi (Council of Ministers in this regard). The LG is being advised accordingly in this matter," the letter said.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had slammed Jung on Thursday for his assertion that he was the 'Government in Delhi', saying it will result in dictatorship and that his stand was not only unconstitutional but "laughable" in a democratic country.
Striking a conciliatory note, Jung later clarified his position on the issue in a letter to the chief minister, saying Kejriwal misunderstood him. Jung said he never his intended to "negate the position of the Chief Minister or the authority of the elected government" and will clear the file on appointment of DCW chief Maliwal once it is properly processed.
After being accused of acting at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jung, however, criticised Kejriwal for making "inappropriate" references to the Prime Minister in a letter the CM sent to him on Thursday.
Jung and Kejriwal have a history of differences over the appointment and transfer of senior bureaucrats as well as the functioning of Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB).
The conflict stems from Delhi’s unique position as the national capital, where several important departments such as police and law and order, in addition to key agencies such as the DDA, function under the LG, who reports to the Union home ministry.