Terming Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s allegations that bureaucrats were skipping meetings, not taking calls, “disobeying orders of ministers” and treating the elected AAP government with “indifference” as “not true”, the Centre said that his affidavit highlighting these before the Supreme Court contains “falsehoods”.
Responding to the affidavit filed in the top court, where a five-judge Constitution bench is scheduled to hear the dispute between the Centre and the Delhi government over control of services in the national capital, Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla said in an affidavit: “I have verified from all senior officials of GNCTD about non-receipt of telecalls etc and I have found that no such incidents have ever happened.”
Meanwhile, on Monday, the Centre moved the SC, urging it to refer the matter pending before the five-judge bench to an even larger bench. Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said the five-judge bench will decide what to do with the request when it takes up the main matter.
Pointing out that “… all officials attend all meetings on some occasions,” the Home Secretary said that “on enquiry, I have learnt that the dates on which some officers could not attend the meeting were the dates on which they were officially assigned some other duties by the Delhi government itself”.
Bhalla said that the “illustrations given” by Sisodia “are incorrect” and added, “I am advised not to deal with individual illustrations which would have clearly shown the falsehood contained therein since the deponent of the affidavit is the Hon’ble Deputy Chief Minister, and it may not be proper, appropriate or in good taste to deal with such assertions, more particularly when I have found them to be not true.”
Bhalla added that the subject matter under consideration before the Constitution bench “is purely a constitutional question of interpretation of Articles 239AA read with other constitutional provisions and the provisions of GNCTD Act” and the Deputy CM’s “affidavit appears to have been filed to create an unwarranted prejudice and to ensure the facts stated results in the interpretation being canvased by the appellant is accepted”.
The Centre said Delhi is the capital of the country and keeping the said special and peculiar position in mind, the constitutional amendment was made by inserting Article 239AA. “As held by the nine-judge bench in the case of NDMC, Delhi, undisputably, is Union Territory and no Union Territory under the Constitution has its own services which are not controlled by the central government. That is the constitutional scheme and every union territory is functioning effectively and efficiently despite there being no difference in administrative infrastructure of Delhi and other Union Territories,” it pointed out. The Home Ministry said “the present status of Delhi is in existence since 1993” and “till date, no elected government in GNCTD has ever alleged any… difficulties even during the period for which there were different parties ruling the Central government and GNCTD”.
The government of Delhi, it said, continues to be run by the cabinet headed by the Chief Minister from February 2015 till date.
“Despite this, the illustrations given in the affidavit… suggest the problems of the year 2021-22 are suddenly highlighted on the eve of hearing by the Constitution Bench”.
The Home Secretary said, “The illustrations are, by and large, vague and incapable of any precise examination by the central government, more particularly when no contemporaneous information of alleged failure is ever communicated to the central government.”