Censuring the Delhi Lieutenant-Governor for telephonically approving a decision to set up an inquiry commission to look into the affairs of Arya Orphanage and other institutions following reports of alleged cases of sexual abuse,the Delhi High Court on Monday remarked the L-G must realise he is not just a figurative head who would ceremoniously attend parties and should have applied his mind on the basis of the relevant material.
The court questioned if the facts with respect to the number of hours the L-G worked in his office and the time he spent socialising in public could be brought out in public.
A bench headed by Justice Pradeep Nandarajog tore into the decision-making process adopted by L-G Tejinder Khanna while granting his approval to initiate inquiry against five institutions,two of which approached the court saying they had distinct identities and were unrelated to Arya Orphanage and two other childrens homes running from its Daryaganj complex.
As per a note adduced in the High Court by government counsel S D Salwan,the L-G wrote that he had given his approval on the basis of his telephonic conversation with the Chief Secretary.
The bench,which had asked the counsel to put before them all material on the basis of which the L-G had signed the notification,was miffed with this disclosure. What is meant by the fact that the L-G was telephonically informed? How can the L-G work on the basis of the personal knowledge of a particular person,conveyed to him over phone? Show us the material where he has applied his mind before signing the notification, said Justice Nandarajog.
Salwan responded that the entire file was before the L-G when he spoke with the Chief Secretary and that he also studied a relevant file noting before sanctioning the impugned
Where is all that material? If this is the language L-G knows,we better say nothing. The question is if L-G acted mechanically since he has not discussed the material at all. L-G must realise he is not a figurative head who would ceremoniously attend parties only. He chairs a constitutional position and he must act with rationality and objectivity. He cannot act in a cursory manner, remarked the judge.
Reproaching the counsel for arguing that there was nothing wrong with the way the decision was taken,the bench asked him to produce any judgement where a decision was taken on the basis of a file noting followed by a telephonic conversation.
We are not here to pass value judgements but can it be put out in the public domain as to how many hours the L-G sits in his office working and how much time he spends on socialising. We are bothered about the purity of a judgement and are disturbed about the fall in public governance, said Justice Nandarajog.
The court then reserved its judgement on the impugned notification.
A bunch of three petitions had challenged the inquiry ordered by the government,by issuing a notification on February 25. The notification called for a probe into the functioning of the Arya Orphanage,and two other institutions Chhatravas Chandra Arya Vidya Mandir and Chandrawati Chaudhary Smarak Trust both functioning from East of Kailash,citing they had some connections and linkages to Arya Orphanage.
Earlier,the court had asked the Delhi government counsel to adduce the file containing the notings on the basis of which the probe was ordered. After perusing the file,the court noted that there was nothing on record to connect the two institutions to Arya Orphanage.