AAP claims SC judgment on power struggle with L-G in its favour, CM Kejriwal calls it ‘big victory’

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government on Wednesday said the Supreme Court’s judgment on the power struggle in Delhi was in its favour with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal calling the verdict a “big victory” for Delhi residents and democracy.

Kejriwal, who was apprised about the details of the judgment by a battery of lawyers led by law minister Kailash Gahlot, blamed the Narendra Modi government for “illegally” withdrawing powers of the elected government.

“If the Modi government had not withdrawn the powers of the elected government through illegal orders, precious three years would have been saved. People of Delhi are grateful to the judiciary. Today’s order reinforces people’s faith in judiciary,” the chief minister said, while referring to a May 2015 notification issued by the ministry of home affairs, which said the transfer and posting of bureaucrats falls under the Lieutenant Governor’s jurisdiction.

A five-judge constitution bench, in a unanimous verdict, on Wednesday held that though Delhi cannot be accorded the status of a state, the L-G has no independent decision making power and has to act on the aid and advice of the elected government.

Deputy CM Manish Sisodia said the services department, during the Congress rule, was under the CM and not the L-G. “I am thankful that the Supreme Court in its verdict returned control over the services department to the elected government,” he said.

“The SC order clearly states that the executive power of the council of ministers spans over all subjects in concurrent list, except for three excluded subjects, in the state list. These three subjects are police, public order and land. But, the Centre through the L-G misinterpreted these rules for political vendetta and introduced a fourth subject — services — through the 2015 notification. The SC’s judgment clearly says that decisions in all matters except the three reserved subjects will be taken by the government and not the L-G,” Sisodia said.

Hours after the verdict, Sisodia introduced a new system for transfer and postings of bureaucrats, making Kejriwal the approving authority. Sources said that the file was, however, sent back by chief secretary Anshu Prakash who wrote in the file that the subject of services was neither mentioned in the state or concurrent list.

Referring to the repeated objections raised by the L-G in key government projects such as sending teachers for training and filling vacancies, Sisodia said that the Supreme Court’s verdict has made it clear that the L-G need not interfere in all government works. “As per the order, we will inform the L-G about all cabinet decisions taken by the elected government. All files are not required to be sent for L-G’s approval from now. The court order says that the L-G has not been conferred with the authority to independently take decisions or at variance with the aid and advice which is tendered to him by the council of ministers,” he said.

Following the court order, sources said Kejriwal and Sisodia could go ahead with a bureaucratic reshuffle within the government.

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