New Delhi: Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party government told the Delhi high court on Thursday that the Lt Governor is constitutionally bound to take the advice of the state’s elected government while appointing civil servants.
“The constitutional significance of the chief minister is mentioned in the Constitution. The governor acts on the aid and advise of the council of ministers and such advise would be binding," Dayan Krishnan, counsel for the Delhi government, told justice V.P. Vaish.
The high court was hearing arguments in the ongoing conflict between the Arvind Kejriwal-led government and the Centre over the powers of Delhi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung on the appointment of civil servants.
The Delhi government on 28 May mounted a legal challenge to the constitutional validity of a 21 May notification by the Union home ministry that seeks to extend absolute powers to the Lt. Governor in appointing civil servants in the national capital.
On Thursday, Krishnan argued the transaction of business rules that apply to the national capital region are passed by the President and do not allow the Lt. Governor to make decisions as though the elected government does not exist.
Even in exclusive matters that the Lt. Governor can take up on his own, the aid of the Cabinet is a must before issuing any order, he added.
In the last hearing, the Delhi government through its counsel Indira Jaisingh had called the notification ultra vires (beyond legal authority), and claimed the Centre did not have the authority to pass it.
Justice Rajiv Shakder who then heard the matter had refused to stay the home ministry’s notification but agreed to give the matter an urgent hearing as it was hampering the day-to-day functioning of the system.
The ramifications of the conflict are already apparent in similar cases that are currently being heard by the court.
These include a petition filed by Reliance Industries Ltd against an first information report issued by the ACB during the AAP government’s previous 49-day-stint for alleged gas price fixing. There is also a petition filed by the Delhi government against the appointment of M.K. Meena as chief of the ACB by the Lt. Governor.
These cases will be heard next on 2 September.