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Delhi LG office impeding govt’s right to choose legal counsel: AAP

A three-member committee was appointed by Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung to examine over 400 files on decisions taken by the AAP government since February 2015, in which the Lt-Governor’s approval was not taken.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | New Delhi | Published: September 29, 2016 3:00 am
kejriwal, arvind kejriwal, najeeb jung, aap, aam aadmi party, delhi government, delhi news, india news Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung

As the friction between the AAP government in Delhi and the office of the Lieutenant Governor continues, the AAP government has claimed that the Lt-Governor’s office is impeding the elected government’s right to choose the counsels of its choice to fight its legal battles in the Supreme Court, including those against the Centre.

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After the August 4 decision of the Delhi High Court in which it held that Delhi continued to be a Union Territory under the authority of the Lt-Governor, a three-member committee was appointed by Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung to examine over 400 files on decisions taken by the government since February 2015, in which the Lt-Governor’s approval was not taken.

The files under scrutiny also pertain to the appointments of senior counsels to represent the government in various matters pending before the Supreme Court. As a result, the AAP government claims it cannot appoint its counsels nor can it pay the fees of the counsels appointed earlier.

”Yes, the pending bills are a problem. The elected government is facing difficulties in engaging counsels to match the central government’s attorney general and his full team in the Supreme Court,” said AAP government spokesperson Nagender Sharma.

The senior counsels whose fees remain unpaid include Chander Uday Singh, Sudheer Nandrajog, Guru Krishan Kumar and Raju Ramachandran, said sources in the government. Singh and Ramchandran confirmed that they were yet to receive their fees from the government. The total amount of fees that the government owes its counsels, however, is about Rs 3 crore, which includes fees for appearances in many different hearings over several months.

Sources told The Indian Express that last week, a senior counsel appearing for the government was told to seek an adjournment in a matter before the Supreme Court at the last minute because his appointment and payment of fees was being reviewed by the Lt-Governor’s office.

Delhi government’s senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra said, “There has been one case in the Supreme Court in which a direction was passed for appointing lawyers from the central law agency or the additional solicitor general of the Government of India and the appointment of a senior council was denied by the Lt-Governor.”

Sources in the Lt-Governor’s office said, “As required under the procedure, the approval of the Lt-Governor has to be sought while engaging counsels out of the government panel. Since the government had not done this before (Delhi High Court decision of August 4), these files are now placed before the independent three-member committee. The concerned secretaries have themselves submitted these files to the committee and the committee is examining them.” As per the procedure, any such appointment in the future too will have to be made with the approval of the Lt-Governor, sources said and added that the Lt-Governor’s office has no role to play in the payment of counsels’ fees.

”This is an unnecessary confrontation involving lawyers. For lawyers the government is both the Lt-Governor and the elected government. We don’t make that distinction,” said a Delhi government counsel, who wished to remain anonymous.

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  1. A
    Arjun .
    Sep 28, 2016 at 10:04 pm
    If files are being reviewed independently, Delhi Government should wait for the outcome... After all, it was Delhi Cabinet which decided in its paraniod wisedom to stop sending file to LG... Basically, the impatience of Kejriwal has costed Delhi a lot, so people should not support knee-jerk reactions or quick-fixes anymore... Some Lawyers, like the Indira Jaising ji and Gopal Subramanium ji are supporting and feeding into Kejriwal's paranoia just because of their hatred for BJP led center... And, in fact, I feel these Lawyers are the main culprit of adding fuel to fire (giving wrong advise to a paranoid minds)...
    1. P
      Praveen Sakhuja
      Sep 29, 2016 at 4:47 am
      I disagree with Arjun. This is the time to find out ways as to how Delhi get its share. They are not concerned about the politics of Centre and State, as they are worst sufferer. Condition of state suffering from Dengue, Chckengunia and others is not hidden, it is fight of centre and state that has led to deaths. Let us approach PM who is the sole decision making authority to kindly guide LG and other government agencies to join hands to get Delhi free from deaths and other unpredicted sufferings arisen from declaration buy Hon'ble Court of status of LG.