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Photo: Mint

Jung Jurisdiction row: Centre challenges Delhi HC order in SC

The home ministry had maintained that ACB had no jurisdiction over its officials whereas the Delhi govt had challenged it

New Delhi: The jurisdiction row between Centre and Delhi government reached Supreme Court on Wednesday with the former challenging Delhi high court’s order that termed as “suspect" a notification of Union home ministry barring the Anti-corruption Branch from acting against its officials.

A Special Leave Petition (SLP) was filed in the registry of the apex court on Wednesday evening challenging 25 May order of the high court which was hearing bail application of a Delhi Police constable arrested by ACB of Delhi government on bribery charges.

The home ministry had maintained that ACB had no jurisdiction over its officials whereas the Delhi government had challenged it.

The ministry issued a gazette notification on 21 May that the ACB police station shall not take cognisance of offences against officials, employees and functionaries of the central government services besides giving the Delhi Lieutenant Governor (L-G) absolute powers on transfers and postings of senior officers.

However, while dismissing the bail application of the constable, the high court termed as “suspect" the Centre’s notification barring Delhi government’s ACB from acting against its officers in criminal offences and held that the Lt. Governor cannot act on his discretion.

The high court noted that Lt. Governor of government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) is bound to act upon the aid and advice of the council of ministers who are directly elected by the citizens of Delhi and the Centre’s “executive fiat" siding with him is “suspect".

It observed that mandate of the people “must" be respected by the Lt. Governor of GNCTD if there was no other “constitutional or legal fetter". “In my view, since the Union lacks the executive authority to act in respect of matters dealt with in Entries 1 & 2 of List III of the Seventh Schedule, the further executive fiat issued by the Union Government on 21 May 2015 is also suspect," justice Vipin Sanghi had said in his order.

The order came on the day when Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had taken to streets and was holding an ‘open cabinet meeting’ in central Delhi against the alleged oppressive measures being used by the Centre to curtail powers of the Delhi government.

According to the sources in the home ministry, the SLP will primarily argue that the high court had made the observations without hearing its views.

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