Delhi government's affidavits to SC blame LG Saxena for ‘derailing’ governance

Updated on Nov 10, 2022 06:42 AM IST

Submitting two separate affidavits before a Constitution bench which is seized of the power tussle between the Centre and Delhi government, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia alleged that LG VK Saxena has been constantly trying to appropriate the executive powers of the elected government.

 Delhi lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena. (ANI)
Delhi lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena. (ANI)
By, New Delhi

Accusing Delhi’s lieutenant governor (LG) VK Saxena of encouraging the “recalcitrance of civil servants” towards the elected government, the Delhi government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the LG’s office has “derailed” the governance of the national capital “in complete disregard of constitutional commitments to representative democracy and federalism”.

It further alleged that the LG is “running a parallel system of governance in the NCT of Delhi” by abrogating to himself the powers of an elected government.

Submitting two separate affidavits before a Constitution bench which is seized of the power tussle between the Centre and Delhi government, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia alleged that LG Saxena has been constantly trying to appropriate the executive powers of the elected government.

There was no comment from the LG’s office on the matter.

Saxena, who stepped into the role on May 26, the affidavits claim, seeks to usurp the powers of the duly elected state government so as to not only upset the scheme of federalism and representative democracy, but also harmed public interests in sectors ranging from public health, education, environmental protection.

“The unconstitutional and undemocratic encroachment of the powers of a duly elected government has made governance in Delhi challenging and unnecessarily difficult for the elected government,” they stated.

Sisodia filed the affidavits in two separate cases. The first relates to the tug of war between the Union and Delhi governments over the control of bureaucrats, while the second matter pertains to the 2021 Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, which gives an upper hand to the LG in the matters of administration of Delhi.

The 2021 amendment makes it mandatory for the Delhi government to seek the opinion of the LG before taking any executive action in pursuance of decisions by the council of ministers, or any other decision under any law in force in the Capital — a clause which the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has averred to be contrary to previous Supreme Court judgments and constitutional provisions favouring an elected government in Delhi.

Both the cases are being heard together by a Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud. The cases will be taken up for hearing on November 24.

While responding to the Delhi government’s petition against the 2021 amendments, the Union government in April stated that disruptions created by the AAP government by keeping the LG in dark about crucial executive decisions had made it expedient for them to come out with the amendments.

The latest development comes at a time when Saxena and the Delhi government have been locked in a tussle over several matters — a 2021-22 excise policy “scam” which is being investigated by CBI and in which Sisodia has been named as an accused though he and the AAP have denied any role; alleged irregularities by the Delhi government in a bus contract; and alleged irregularities in the construction of classrooms; among others.

Sisodia’s affidavits targeted Saxena, saying that governance in Delhi has become extremely difficult for the government ever since the new LG took over in May this year.

The deputy CM complained in the affidavit that the day-to-day functioning of the government in Delhi stands completely jeopardised in the wake of the control over bureaucrats being exercised by the Centre and the officials resultantly turning a deaf ear to the elected representatives.

“The problem has become even more acute with the appointment of the incumbent Lieutenant Governor earlier this year. Any co-operation between the civil servants and the elected government is sought to be penalized and recalcitrance towards the elected government is being encouraged,” contended one of the affidavits.

Submitting details of civil servants allegedly skipping the meetings called by various ministers and disobeying their orders, the AAP government lamented that it has become a common practice for civil servants to treat the elected government with an alarming degree of laxity and contempt.

The affidavit rued that the administration and governance in the NCT of Delhi has been severely compromised on account of the complete lack of accountability of unelected civil servants to the elected government and through them, the people.

Similarly, the other affidavit argued that the 2021 amendments have allowed the LG to completely bypass the requirement to be bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers. “Instead, it unconstitutionally permits the Lieutenant Governor’s office to exercise the power of pocket-veto as well as the power to sit in appeal over the council of minister’s decisions, while holding off any implementation of the decision taken by them,” said the AAP government.

Sisodia emphasised that the matter has acquired “even greater urgency” since Saxena took oath of office and “started functioning with even greater disregard for the constitutional scheme of the Lieutenant Governor’s role.”

His affidavit claimed that the executive and legislative powers of the elected government have been arrogated for the LG’s office, thereby compromising the day-to-day functioning of federalism and representative democracy in the NCT, revealing “an insidious pattern”.

The Delhi government gave out certain examples, including doorstep ration delivery scheme, licensing for restaurants and hotels, and the “Red Light On, Gaadi Off” campaign, where the LG either stalled the proposals or initiated a move on his own.

The affidavit filed by the Union ministry of home affairs in April argued that “administration in the NCT of Delhi continued to suffer on a day-to-day basis on account of a lack of clarity in relation to executive authority”, and thus, the 2021 amendments were carried out “to bring clarity and streamline the governance structure of the NCT of Delhi”.

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