- Supreme Court rules, says elected government must govern Delhi
- Verdict in favour of Arvind Kejriwal, often criticized for "dharnas"
- Elected government has real power, say judges, but warn against anarchy
In a gigantic win for Arvind Kejriwal, the Supreme Court today ruled that his government is the final authority in Delhi, with five judges unanimously agreeing that "real power lies with the elected government of Delhi"
Mr Kejriwal, who was elected Chief Minister of Delhi in 2015, had gone to court, arguing that his administration was repeatedly impugned upon by the Lieutenant Governor, who acts as the representative of the centre in Delhi.
The Delhi High Court ruled against him last year. The top court today has over-turned that verdict.
Mr Kejriwal contends that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who led the BJP's campaign in Delhi in 2015 only to be dramatically defeated by the Aam Aadmi Party, is exacting revenge by using the office of the Lieutenant Governor to prevent Mr Kejriwal's government from taking any decisions. Bureaucrats' appointments are cancelled, files are not cleared, and basic decision-making is obstructed, he claims.
The Supreme Court today said that the elected government is the boss of Delhi and warned that the Lieutenant Governor cannot function as "an obstructionist"; it said "there is no room for absolutism and there is no room for anarchism also."
In that observation lies a cautionary note for Mr Kejriwal, a regular practitioner of dharnas or protests - the most recent was convened last month on the Lieutenant Governor's sofa and lasted nine days - who is often accused by critics and opponents of resorting to sit-ins when he does not get his way and blaming administrative shortcomings on his protracted turf war with the centre.
Mr Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party was formed just six years ago, won all but three seats in Delhi in the last election it contested in the capital. His rash of run-ins with the centre have crystallized his party's demand for turning Delhi into a state instead of its unique status as the national capital where three key areas - law and order, land and police - are governed by the centre instead of by its own government.
Mr Kejriwal has confronted two Lieutenant Governors so far - Najeeb Jung and now Anil Baijal.