After confrontations with the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) over the interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment regarding the transfers and postings of services, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday approached the apex court to urgently dispose of its pending appeals including control over "services".
Soon after the Supreme Court order was delivered on July 4, the AAP government claimed issues such as services, which deals with transfers and postings of officers within the government, automatically came under it. They said the SC judgment mentions that only three reserved subjects — land, police and public order — fall under the L-G’s jurisdiction.
Earlier on Monday, Delhi government’s standing counsel Rahul Mehra had said the intention is to get a final decision on who would control “crucial” agencies like the services department and the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) — which are currently under the L-G’s control.
L-G Anil Bajial and the Centre, however, said the SC order did not decide the issue of “services” and referred it to a separate bench. Following this, Kejriwal warned the L-G and bureaucrats of contempt of court while saying the government was “exploring legal options”.
There are nine appeals filed by the AAP government which are to be taken up separately by a regular bench of the apex court. These include deciding on the validity of individual notifications — two issued by the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) and two by the Delhi government.
Other appeals include policy decisions taken by the AAP government related to setting up of commissions of enquiry into the alleged CNG fitness scam and allegations of malpractices in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA). These decisions were declared “illegal” by the high court in its August 2016 verdict because they were issued without taking the L-G’s views.
The most significant of all, for the Delhi government, however is going to be its appeal against the MHA’s notification of May 21, 2015. The notification said that the L-G, in matters of ‘services’, exercises the sole powers and discharges the functions of the central government to the extent delegated to him from time to time. The high court had also held the same as legal and constitutional.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear next week appeals of the Delhi government relating to the scope of its various powers in view of the recent verdict by a Constitution bench that held that the Lieutenant Governor has no independent power to take decisions.
Earlier in the day, triggering a fresh bout of tussle between the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor's office, LG Anil Baijal transferred three IAS officers.
The action by the LG comes days after the Supreme Court clipped the LG's powers, restricting his jurisdiction to land, police and public order. The services, department, however, still continues to be the bone of contention between the two.
According to a new order, Soumya Gupta has been replaced by Sanjay Goyal as Education Department Director. Similarly, Chanchal Yadav, who served as South DMC's Deputy Commissioner has been shifted as Special Secretary to LG.
Vasanthakumar N, has been made Special Commissioner (Trade and Taxes).
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia slammed the move as "bossing around" by the LG.
"LG has kept the services department with him arbitrarily and is bossing around. He should have consulted us before appointing the education director. Delhi government is spending 26 per cent of its budget on education and we are not even consulted on the issue," Sisodia told reporters.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday had written to L-G Anil Baijal wondering how he can be "selective" in accepting the Supreme Court judgement on power tussle between the Delhi government and the Centre.
Meanwhile, L-G Anil Baijal and Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash on Tuesday met Union Home Secreatry Rajiv Gauba to discuss the issue. However, when asked about the details of the meeting, L-G Baijal was reluctant to answer. He added that everything is fine between him and CM Kejriwal.