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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

AAP vs Centre: Supreme Court says Centre controls Delhi’s anti-corruption branch, divided on services

The Supreme Court’s constitution bench, which had taken a hard look at the relationship between the Centre and the elected government, had last year marked the broad contours. This judgment had ruled that the city’s Lieutenant Governor did not have independent decision-making powers and the real power had to lie with the elected government.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2019 16:51 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan times, New Delhi
Two judges of the Supreme Court will soon decide the Aam Aadmi Party’s challenge to the Centre’s orders stripping the city government of its powers over the anti-corruption branch, bureaucrats and more.
Two judges of the Supreme Court will soon decide the Aam Aadmi Party’s challenge to the Centre’s orders stripping the city government of its powers over the anti-corruption branch, bureaucrats and more.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
         

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court in its verdict on the Aam Aadmi Party versus the Centre case, is divided on Services -- the power to appoint, post and transfer officials in Delhi administration -- but agreed on Centre having control over the Anti-Corruption Branch in Delhi.

The services issue has been sent to a larger bench.

The top court ruled in favour of Centre on two issues – the key Anti-Corruption Bureau issue and the power to institute commission of enquiry. (Live updates)

Electricity and revenue departments (fixing of circle rates), posting and transfer of Grade 3 and Grade 4 officers, appointing special public prosecutor and appointment of directors in discoms will come under Delhi government.

On control over the Anti-Corruption Branch, the two-judge bench of Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan concurred that Centre had absolute power.

On electricity act and Delhi electricity reforms act, the judges said that after going through the provision this power lies with the Delhi government and centre has no authority.

Also Read | Transfers, postings, advertisements: Times when Kejriwal clashed with the Centre

Delivering it verdict on the rates for agricultural land, the judges said the LG can form an opinion but not on each and every matter. “LG is not expected to differ routinely but in cogent cases. There may be contingencies where LG and ministers may differ, LG is supposed to refer the difference to President, decision cannot be implemented without referring to LG.”

 Watch: Supreme Court order unconstitutional: AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal

Elaborating on the role of LG, the judges said that he is expected to honour the wisdom of the ministers and not sit over their decisions. “That is a facet of good governance. By and large it demands a mutual respect between the two organs . They are here to serve the Delhi citizens.”

Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan had ended hearings arguments on the nine petitions around the power tussle between the centre and the Arvind Kejriwal government nearly three months back. Last month when AAP government’s senior lawyer Indira Jaising pleaded for an early verdict, the judges reassured her that the verdict would be out “very soon”.

The top court’s constitution bench, which had taken a hard look at the relationship between the Centre and the elected government, had last year marked the broad contours. This judgment had ruled that the city’s Lieutenant Governor did not have independent decision-making powers and the real power had to lie with the elected government.

The July verdict drew the red lines for the Lieutenant Governor. But it was left for the two-judge bench to deal with appeals as to who controls services – the power to appoint, post and transfer officials – in Delhi administration, the anti-corruption bureau and has the power to appoint a commission of inquiry.

Also Read | Who rules Delhi? This is what the Constitution says

Soon enough, the Aam Aadmi Party, which had hoped for getting back control over the anti-corruption branch and the power to appoint officials in the city government, was corrected by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.

AAP’s Delhi government and the BJP-led national coalition have been fighting pitched battles over sharing of power soon after Arvind Kejriwal returned as chief minister in 2015. AAP had won 67 of 70 seats in Delhi assembly, reducing the BJP to only three. Arvind Kejriwal alleges that the BJP-led government at the Centre has since been exacting revenge, withdrawing its powers and blocking decision taken by the AAP government.

First Published: Feb 14, 2019 10:33 IST