Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has been locked in a power tussle with Narendra Modi's government since 2015.
New Delhi: Delhi's Lieutenant Governor has to be kept informed about all decisions taken by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal-led city government but it didn't appear necessary that the LG concurs in all matters, the Supreme Court said in "prima facie" observations made in the course of Tuesday's hearing. Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said there could not be day-to-day interference. "Even if there is... some sanctity has to be added," observed Chief Justice Misra, who heads the bench of five judges hearing petitions by the Aam Aadmi Party government that accuse the centre of misinterpreting the Constitution to eat into its authority and block decisions.
Here is your 10-point-guide to this story:
- As a constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra resumed hearing, Delhi government's lawyer Gopal Subramanium argued that the point wasn't conflict of power and authority but ensuring good governance.
- Mr Subramanium said the LG was summoning all files and overruling their decisions, ignoring constitutional provisions that require the LG to seek the aid and advice of the Delhi government and refer any differences with the Delhi government to the centre.
- At Tuesday's hearing, the Aam Aadmi Party government told the top court that the LG, however, had only thrice referred a disagreement to the centre for a final opinion but routinely overruled the elected government.
- The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has lined up a battery of nine top lawyers including former Home Minister P Chidambaram, constitutional expert Rajeev Dawan and Indira Jaising to argue its case. The centre's top law officer Attorney General KK Venugopal hasn't appeared for the centre because he represented AAP earlier and his number 2 Ranjit Kumar quit recently. Law officer Maninder Singh represented the centre at the last hearing.
- At the first hearing last week, the court had observed the LG appeared to have primacy in the national capital but underlined that his office could not "sit over files" beyond a reasonable period.
- Mr Subramanium, who led arguments for the Delhi government, had told the court that an "an elected government cannot be without any power" and the Lieutenant Governor could not use his power to "stultify daily governance by sitting over files."
- The Delhi LG, unlike a Governor, has the power to disagree with the Delhi Cabinet on any advice. But AAP leaders have long argued that a provision meant as a safeguard by parliament had been misinterpreted in a way that every decision of the elected government was dependent on the LG's concurrence.
- Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been locked in a power tussle with the Centre ever since his AAP swept to power in the national capital in 2015.
- Within months, the NDA government took the anti-corruption unit away from the city government and withdrew a 1998 concession granted by BJP patriarch LK Advani that mandated the LG to consult the elected government on every decision relating to police, public order and bureaucratic appointments.
- These decisions were the starting point of the tussle for power. The Chief Minister says that any important decision taken by his government is negated by the Lieutenant Governor, who he accuses of acting as a stooge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in undermining the Delhi government.
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