The tussle over authority, and files, between the Delhi government and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung continued on Wednesday, with the Lt Governor’s office asking the government to send files on yet another issue.
This time, Jung’s office asked for files on the notification on revision of circle rates of agricultural land, in villages where the land polling policy has been approved. The ‘request’ comes a day after the Delhi government issued a circular to its officers, asking them not to send any files, other than those on reserved subjects, to Jung.
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A statement by Raj Niwas said, “The matter was not placed before the Lt Governor prior to the issue of notification. The Lt Governor’s office has therefore called the relevant file for examining the legal and constitutional aspects of the notification.
The Delhi government insisted that the revision of circle rates was under their purview and cited a note from former home minister P Chidambaram to underscore the point. The issue of authority in this particular case dates back to the time when Sheila Dikshit was the CM of Delhi. When Dikshit wanted to revise the circle rates, the then Lt Governor Tejender Khanna had refused to approve it. Dikshit took the issue to then Home Minister P Chidambaram, who sought the opinion of then attorney general Goolam E Vahanvati.
Vahanvati had opined, “The government has been empowered to transact the business item number 11 ‘stamp duty’. That business has been allocated to one of the ministers and L-G is required to act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.” Chidambaram also wrote to Dikshit about the clarification she sought on the government’s powers in the capital on issue of circle rate.
Chidambaram mentioned Vahanvati’s opinion and said that the word ‘government’ in Indian Stamp Act, 1899 and rule 4 of the Delhi stamp (prevention of undervaluation of instruments) rules , 2007 read with entry 63 of the list II of the seventh schedule to the Constitution, means ‘government of NCT Delhi’.
“Hence the government has the right to fix minimum rates and the L-G is bound to act on the aid and advice of the GNCTD/council of ministers,” wrote Chidambaram.
The then AG’s opinion was mentioned in a note by the secretary to CM, on July 16 this year, after a cabinet meeting. Meanwhile, the Delhi government pointed out that the Lt Governor had issued a press release. “The moment he communicates with the government, we will revert,” said a spokesperson.