A Supreme Court two-judge bench Thursday delivered a split judgment on the jurisdiction of the Centre and the Delhi government over the appointment and transfer of bureaucrats in Delhi. Both justices agreed that the Centre will have control over the Anti-Corruption Bureau while the Delhi government will have the powers to appoint special public prosecutors, directors under the Electricity Act, and also entitled to charge revenue on agricultural land. Since there is a difference of opinion among the two judges over the jurisdiction of services. the case has now been referred to a larger bench.
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Last year, the Supreme Court had pronounced its verdict on a batch of petitions filed by the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government challenging the Delhi High Court’s order which held the L-G as the administrative head of the national capital. The top court said the Delhi LG cannot act independently and must take the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers. It observed that the national capital enjoys a special status and is not a full state. The case was heard by a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
The AAP government had taken the stand that the Chief Minister and the council of ministers had the power to make laws as well as the executive authority to enforce the enacted statutes. The party had also said that the L-G has been taking many executive decisions and a “harmonious interpretation” of Article 239AA (which lays down special provisions with respect to Delhi) of the Constitution was needed to fulfill the constitutional mandate for a democratically elected government.
The tussle between the Delhi CM and the L-G had started after Kejriwal took office for the second time in 2015. Najeeb Jung was the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi then. After Jung resigned, Anil Baijal took over but the power struggle continued.
A look at the timeline of all that happened between the Delhi CM and the L-G over:
July 9, 2013: Najeeb Jung takes charge as Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi.
December 28, 2013: Arvind Kejriwal becomes the Chief Minister of Delhi.
February 3, 2014: Delhi Cabinet clears the draft of Jan Lokpal Bill.
February 10, 2014: Najeeb Jung sends the draft of bill to Law Ministry which said Centre’s nod mandatory to introduce Jan Lokpal Bill.
February 14, 2014: Arvind Kejriwal steps down as Delhi CM after 49 days at the helm.
February 17, 2014: Delhi assembly in suspended animation and President’s Rule imposed.
February 14, 2015: Arvind Kejriwal takes oath as Chief Minister again, as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) wins a staggering 67 out of 70 seats.
The Kejriwal-Jung tussle starts
April 1, 2015: Najeeb Jung says he is not obliged to send files to CM in response to Kejriwal’s order to route files related to police, public order and land through him.
April 29, 2015: Kejriwal tells officials not to ‘bother’ L-G with all the files.
May 16, 2015: Kejriwal accuses IAS officer Shakuntala Gamlin of lobbying for power companies.
May 20, 2015: Jung annuls all bureaucratic postings by Delhi government and says that power to appoint and transfer rests with him.
June 2, 2015: Five officers of Bihar Police join Delhi Government’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB). Jung rejects it saying he is the ACB boss.
June 8, 2015: Jung names Joint Commissioner of Delhi Police MK Meena new chief of ACB. Kejriwal protests strongly.
June 9, 2015: Delhi government replaces Home Secretary Dharam Pal. L-G vetoes order.
July 20/21, 2015: Delhi government appoints Swati Maliwal as Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson. Najeeb Jung asks why his approval was not taken.
August 1, 2015: Kejriwal hikes circle rates in Delhi for agricultural land. Jung objects to the decision.
Aug 11, 2015: Delhi government forms Commission of Inquiry to probe CNG fitness scam. The L-G again objects.
December 1, 2015: AAP government sets up Inquiry Commission to probe Delhi and District Cricket Association. Najeeb Jung questions its validity.
Dec 15, 2015: CBI raids Chief Minister’s Office. Kejriwal blames Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Najeeb Jung for it.
Dec 31, 2015: IAS and DANICS officers go on leave a day before flagship odd-even scheme.
January 1, 2016: Kejriwal blames LG, Centre for strike. Odd-even scheme a success.
March 2016: AAP government appoints former Chief Income Tax Commissioner Krishna Saini as Chairperson of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission.
June 1, 2016: ACB probes Delhi government’s app-based Premium Bus Service.
June 20, 2016: ACB files FIR against Arvind Kejriwal and former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in water tanker scam after Jung’s okay.
August 4, 2016: Delhi High Court says that LG is the administrative head of National Capital Territory and AAP government’s contention that he is bound to act on the advice of Council of Ministers was “without substance”. AAP government moves Supreme Court.
August 30, 2016: Jung axes Delhi Health Secretary and PWD Secretary. Kejriwal says PM Modi hell-bent on destroying Delhi through Najeeb Jung.
August 30, 2016: Jung sets up a panel to probe over 400 files related to decisions taken by Delhi government. Kejriwal calls it illegal.
September 16, 2016: After the chikungunya outbreak, Jung asks Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to return from Finland.
September 17, 2016: Jung refuses to meet AAP ministers.
October 7, 2016: Jung appoints IAS officer Alka Diwan as DCW Member Secretary. Diwan stops payment of salaries to contractual employees of DCW. Kejriwal seeks her removal.
December 6, 2016: Najeeb Jung replaces Diwan with IAS officer Dilraj Kaur. Kejriwal rejects the move and calls Jung “Hitler”.
December 22, 2016: Najeeb Jung resigns as Delhi L-G.
December 31, 2016: Anil Baijal takes oath as Lieutenant- Governor of Delhi.
Kejriwal’s tussle with Anil Baijal starts
While the tussle between AAP and the bureaucracy has been going on for a year, it received fresh momentum in February 2018 after an alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash by AAP leaders at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence on February 19. Following the assault, the IAS association, as a mark of protest, reportedly skipped routine meetings with ministers but claimed they have not suspended work.
Before that, on December 2017, the turf war between Kejriwal and Baijal reached Parliament, with a Rajya Sabha member claiming that the chief minister was being treated like a “peon”.
Another of AAP’s demands from the L-G is approval of the proposal for doorstep delivery of rations. In March 2018, Baijal asked the Delhi government to refer the proposal to the Centre, even as chief minister Arvind Kejriwal hit back by saying no such reference was required according to law. Kejriwal had said Baijal rejected it over “petty politics”.
AAP also demands grant of complete statehood for Delhi and installation of CCTVs, which have further compounded its relationship with Baijal.
On June 11, 2018: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sat in protest at the Lieutenant Governor’s office against the “strike” by IAS officers.
On June 14, 2018: Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him, “with folded hands”, to intervene and end the agitation of the IAS officers.
July 2018: A five-judge Constitution bench of the court had laid down broad parameters for governing the national capital. The apex court had ruled that the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) has no “independent decision-making power” and that he has to take decisions on the advice of the Cabinet.
September 19, 2018: The Centre had told the apex court that administration of Delhi cannot be left to the Delhi government alone and emphasised that it has an “extraordinary” position by virtue of Delhi being the country’s capital.
October 4, 2018: The Delhi government told the apex court that it wanted its petitions relating to the governance of the national capital be heard soon as it did not want “stalemate to continue in administration”.
November 1, 2018: A bench of Justice Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan had concluded hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the notifications related to control over services, setting up of a Commission of Inquiry and the power of the anti-corruption bureau, and reserved the verdict.
February 14, 2019: A Supreme Court two-judge bench delivers a split judgment on the jurisdiction of the Centre and the Delhi government over the appointment and transfer of bureaucrats in Delhi. Both justices agree that the Centre will have control over the Anti-Corruption Bureau while the Delhi government will have the powers to appoint special public prosecutors, directors under the Electricity Act, and also entitled to charge revenue on agricultural land. because of a difference of opinion among the two judges over the jurisdiction of services. the case has now been referred to a larger bench.
(With inputs from agencies)