The Delhi Law Secretary has conveyed to the elected government that the President of India cannot “exercise control” over the national capital based on “half-baked communication”.
Law Secretary Sanjay Kumar Aggarwal took this position while emphasising that the elected government is expected to apprise the Lt Governor of decisions before they are implemented, in keeping with Article 239-AA(4).
“How could the President be expected to exercise his constitutional powers if the file containing all the relevant information, on the basis of which the council of ministers took a particular decision, is not even placed before the L-G to form his views?
“The President, who is empowered to govern Delhi, would be devoid of actual information in case the L-G is unable to gather information in entirety from information sent to him after implementation of decision of council of ministers,” Aggarwal wrote.
The note was sent to Lt Governor Anil Baijal, Law Minister Kailash Gahlot and Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev on June 20. It has allegedly “stalled” a number of policies, including a welfare scheme for advocates in Delhi for which Rs 50 crore was allocated in the annual Budget, a senior lawyer said. A government spokesperson claimed Aggarwal’s opinion had had no impact on governance so far.
Article 239-AA(4) stipulates that in case of differences of opinion between the L-G and the council of ministers on any matter, the former “shall refer it to the President for decision and act according to the decision given thereon by the President”.
Under the Constitutional arrangements, the President is expected to administer Delhi through elected representatives for the business being assigned to the legislative assembly or through Lt Governor for business exclusively in his domain, namely police, public order and land.
On August 19, Bar Council of Delhi Chairman K C Mittal wrote to the Delhi HC Chief Justice raising the issue of stalled welfare funds meant for advocates: “We had pursued the matter with the L-G and other higher authorities, but that has also failed to cut the ice. This has led to great anguish and anger amongst members of the bar, who are quite agitated…”
In his note, Aggarwal stated that the SC Constitution bench judgment of July 2018 does not mean that the elected government can inform the L-G of decisions after implementing them. His response came on the issue of appointing Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain as the chairperson of Advocates Welfare Fund Trustee Committee of Delhi without sending the file to the L-G first.