Opening yet another front in the perpetual power struggle over the nation's capital, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has "rejected" a panel of lawyers picked by the Delhi government for cases against the farmers protesting against the centre's three new farm laws at the city's borders, a statement from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's office said.
Accusing the BJP-ruled centre of exerting pressure on it to replace its prosecutors appearing in cases related to the anti-farm laws stir with those of the Delhi Police, the Delhi government said it will take a call on the issue at a cabinet meeting on Friday.
According to sources quoted by news agency PTI, the dispute stems from a "request made by the Delhi Police for the appointment of special public prosecutors for the cases related to violence, disrespect of the national flag and blatant disregard of the rule of law on Republic Day during a tractor rally taken out by the protesting farmers in the national capital."
"It has nothing to do with the farmers'' protest as is being deliberately made out with ulterior motives," they claimed.
The Delhi cabinet is likely to "reject" the Lt Governor's recommendation for special public prosecutors of the Delhi Police, the sources said.
"The central government has come in the open against the accused farmers of the anti-farm laws stir. The LG has stopped the Delhi government lawyers from fighting cases," the statement from Mr Kejriwal's office said.
"The centre is putting pressure on the (Arvind) Kejriwal government for replacing the lawyers of the state with its own to fight the cases against the accused farmers protesting against the farm laws," it added.
The city government had formed a panel of lawyers for an "impartial" hearing of the cases against the farmers, it said, adding that Mr Baijal, at a virtual meeting with Law Minister Satyendar Jain, had "admitted" that the public prosecutors were doing a "good" job and fighting the cases efficiently.
"Delhi Police investigating the cases, however, wants the appointment of its own panel of lawyers. Law Minister Satyendar Jain had rejected the Delhi Police proposal but now, the LG has put pressure on the Delhi government to call its cabinet meeting for a decision on the Delhi Police panel," the statement said.
The Delhi Police had registered over 40 cases in connection with the Republic Day violence and vandalism.
(With inputs from PTI)