L-G Vs Kejriwal: SC Split On Decision, Refers Case To A Larger Bench
In a major set back to the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi, the Supreme Court on February 14 delivered a split verdict on the contentious issue of power struggle between the centre and the Delhi government and referred the case to a larger constitutional bench of the apex court.
What does the Supreme Court verdict state?
The two-judge bench comprising of AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan ruled that Delhi’s anti-corruption bureau, which investigates complaints against officers is under the control of the centre. Meanwhile, AAP argued that an elected government should be given the power to act against corrupt officials. While the judges could not decide on who should have the power over officers in Delhi, the court stated that the Delhi government can appoint directors in Discoms or power distribution companies, decide on the rate of agricultural land and appoint special prosecutors. Moreover, in cases of a serious dispute, the Delhi Chief Minister and the Lieutenant Governor can take the matter to the President.
However, today’s verdict leaves the question of power over officers undecided. The four-year-long power tussle over the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) started in 2015 after the AAP government employed an officer who reopened old cases and arrested central government employees, reported NDTV. The union home ministry had then cited a 2014 rule stating that the agency could only arrest Delhi Government employees.
The AAP took to Twitter to express the party’s frustration over the constant delays and postponement of the verdict. Taking a cue from an iconic Bollywood movie, AAP tweeted, “Tarikh pe Tarikh.”
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) February 14, 2019
NDTV reported Rahul Mehra, who is representing the Delhi government as saying, “I don’t think it is a setback for Delhi government, it is a setback for people of Delhi, a more clear verdict should have been pronounced. We will continue to fight the legal battle; Delhi government will continue to fight its own battle.”
After a court battle on July 4, the Supreme Court unanimously had clipped the powers of the Lieutenant governor saying that he does not have decision-making powers and has to act on the aid of the elected government. In September, the Centre had told the court that since Delhi, as the capital of the country is in an “extraordinary” position, the administration of Delhi cannot be left to Delhi government alone. In July 2018, Kejriwal even sat in front of the L-G’s office for nine days to push him to end a bureaucrat’s strike.