The face-off between the AAP-led Delhi government and the Centre is set to continue next week, with Arvind Kejriwal’s Cabinet calling for an emergency session of the Assembly on May 26 and 27.
The session was called after the government received legal opinion that the Union Home Ministry’s notification, which said the Lt Governor is the “administrative head” of Delhi, and that “services” are out of the purview of the government, was “unconstitutional” and “illegal”.
The government had sought the views of constitutional experts, including Gopal Subramanium, K K Venugopal and Indira Jaising. All weighed in favour of Kejriwal.
The Delhi government said in a statement: “Depending on the requirement, the session can be extended further.” Sources in the government said that while a variety of options were being considered, one of which was to approach the courts, the Assembly session would most likely be held first.
“The Assembly session has been called because of the unconstitutional notification that takes away power from a democratically elected government. Many things could arise after deliberations, including the option of a resolution being passed by the House against the (Home Ministry) notification itself,” a senior AAP leader said.
AAP has 67 out of 70 seats in the Delhi Assembly. In his legal opinion, Venugopal said that if a government has been brought into power by the people, the “public services of the State” should be controlled by the elected government.
“If the Government is given a Chief Secretary who obeys the orders of the Administrator and not of the Council of Ministers or of the Chief Minister, this would be a sure recipe for disaster,” he stated.
Subramanium said the notification “singularly lacks propriety when the President is still seized with the issue in question” and said that “presumably, it has been issued without the requisite Presidential approval”.
Jaising said, “Since the premise on which the operative part of the notification is based is unconstitutional, the said operative direction is also patently unconstitutional. Indeed, delegation of such power, which can only be done by a law, can only be made by the President. If indeed it has been delegated by the President… (it) is ultravires the power of the Central Government and hence the President.”
On Friday, Home Ministry officials said that the inclusion of “services” in the reserved list meant that the Delhi government would have no power in the appointment of senior officers. The three reserved subjects — police, public order and land — are already out of the Delhi government’s purview.