A day after Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung cancelled the appointment of 15 counsels, who had been picked by the Delhi government to argue its cases in the Supreme Court, the face-off between the two sides seemed set to escalate. While the Delhi Cabinet rejected the L-G’s decision to revoke the appointments of SC lawyers, sources said it has been communicated to the government that “wilful disobedience” of the the decision will signal that the government intends to create a “constitutional crisis”.
The government said in a communication: “The Delhi Cabinet Friday resolved that Law was a transferred subject and, as per a August 4, 2016 Delhi High Court judgement, the power to appoint lawyers was with the elected government.”
Sources said the government is keen to retain the three advocates on record and 12 arguing counsels despite the L-G’s orders. But the government has been told that since the appointments are “illegal”, no salary can henceforth be released to the counsels, sources said.
“If they retain their panel of advocates on record and arguing counsels in the Supreme Court, it will be considered contempt of the High Court order which clarified that the L-G is the capital’s administrative head. Appointment of counsels is always done by the central law agency in consultation with the MHA and the Law Ministry,” a source said.
The decision to remove the three AORs is likely to impact the ongoing cases in Supreme Court, where the AAP government is facing off against the Centre.
Delhi government’s senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra had said on Thursday that the
L-G’s decision would “deny access to justice” to the elected government of Delhi, since the Centre had earlier said that the Delhi government could be represented by the lawyers on the central government panel.