A judgment which was expected to bring about a resolution to the festering dispute between the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor appears to have created a deeper chasm, with the two sides sticking to their widely varying readings of the Supreme Court ruling — including on who controls services.
As the principal secretary (services) refused to issue an order empowering ministers to decide on transfer and postings of bureaucrats for the second straight day, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said her action may invite “serious consequences”, including “contempt of court”.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the government was consulting lawyers to chart the future course of action. On Wednesday, a Constitution Bench of the apex court had ruled that decisions of the elected government of Delhi do not require the concurrence of the L-G.
The AAP dispensation stressed that the SC judgment has made the 2015 Ministry of Home Affairs notification, which placed services under the domain of the L-G, “infructuous” and that the necessity of a division bench quashing it was a mere “technicality”.
However, senior officials said that unless a division bench of the court strikes down the notification, it will not be possible to issue a fresh order bringing services under the elected government. In a letter to L-G Anil Baijal, who is yet to comment on the judgment, Kejriwal said the L-G’s “concurrence” would not be required on any matter now, while adding that the subject of services will now be handled by the elected government.
He added that if files related to services are placed before Baijal and he acts on them, it would “clearly amount to contempt” of the judgment. “Executive power related to Services lies with Council of Ministers. Whereas MHA notification dated 21.05.2015 has not been quashed specifically, which shall now be done by the division bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court, however, the said notification becomes infructuous in the light of such clear orders of Hon’ble Supreme Court. The said judgment of the court has become effective the moment it was pronounced,” said Kejriwal.
“I am sure Hon’ble L-G will never like to knowingly commit contempt of Hon’ble Supreme Court,” the CM added. The AAP said by “not following” the court’s ruling, the L-G was turning out to be the “real anarchist”.
Sisodia, in a press conference, said, “After Wednesday’s judgment, there’s no possibility of services remaining under the L-G anymore. Not issuing the order amounts to brazen contempt of court. If this continues, governance will come to a complete halt in Delhi and lead to a crisis.”
In the evening, he wrote afresh to the services secretary to issue the orders empowering the CM, Deputy CM and other ministers in the government to decide on transfer and postings. “All officers should respect and obey SC order. Open defiance of SC order shall invite serious consequences. It will be in no one’s interest,” Kejriwal tweeted.
However, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said “presumption” that the judgment has given the administration of the UT cadre of services to the Delhi government would be “wholly erroneous”.
“The Supreme Court has categorically held that Delhi cannot compare itself at par with other states and, therefore, any presumption that the administration of the UT cadre of services has been decided in favour of the Delhi government would be wholly erroneous,” said Jaitley in a Facebook post Thursday.