The showdown between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung took a new turn on Thursday after the Delhi Cabinet resolved to implement its notification revising the circle rates of agricultural land, and held that the Lt-Governor’s move to stay the notification was “unlawful”.
“The Cabinet directs officers to implement the notification dated August 4, 2015, so that they are not liable for any loss to the exchequer due to non-implementation of the notification,” the resolution passed by the Cabinet said.
It added: “The Cabinet also urges the Lt-Governor to not resort to issuance of such unlawful communications, which are cause of embarrassment for holders of high Constitutional offices.”
The Lt-Governor, on the other hand, asked the government to maintain status quo in the matter and pointed out “inherent inconsistencies” in the August 4 notification. Returning the file to the Delhi government, the Lt-Governor asked it to submit a fresh notification after rectifying the flaws and then seek his approval.
“The notification, prima facie, is bad in law since it pertains to ‘land’ which is a ‘reserved subject’, coming under the domain of the Central government. Moreover, the notification contains inherent inconsistencies. Rates have been fixed for land that would come under the land-pooling policy. This policy has not yet become operational because villages that will be covered under the policy have not yet been declared ‘urban’ by the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi,” the Lt-Governor’s office said.
Secondly, Jung said the notification did not fix the minimum price of land situated on the riverbed, which has always been done in the past. On August 4, the government, while accepting the “age-old and justified” demand made by farmers, had revised the circle rates for agricultural land from Rs 53 lakh per acre to Rs 3.5 crore per acre.
Jung, however, said his approval was not sought before the notification was issued and called for the file. Although the government had then sent the file to him, it said it was “crystal clear” that fixing the rates was in the elected government’s domain and, hence, there was no need to send the file to the Lt-Governor.
The Lt-Governor had then put the notification on hold for “examining its legal and Constitutional aspects”.
On Thursday, the Cabinet was of the view that while issuing directions to stay the “pro-farmer” notification, the Lt-Governor was silent over the rules or Constitutional provisions that enable him to issue such directions.
“This matter falls within the purview of the transferred subjects i.e., those subjects on which the Lt-Governor is required to act on aid and advice of council of ministers according to Article 239 AA of the Constitution and this advice is binding on the Lt-Governor,” the government said in a statement.
The Cabinet said that only the judiciary could stay a notification issued by the government and Jung had no such power.