Published On : Wed, Jul 4th, 2018

Center cannot rule Delhi by proxy now

The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court today, in a unanimous verdict, has stated that the real power rests with the Council of Ministers. The Delhi government has the power to legislate on all issues except land, police and public order, as per provisions in the Constitution.

With this verdict, the confusion or rather deliberate obfuscation, of who rules over Delhi should be over and the democratically elected government of Delhi, that won with a huge landslide victory three years ago can get down to work, finally.

‘Special status’ of Delhi had become an opportunity for the Central Government ruled by BJP, which has not been able to digest its humiliating defeat at the hustings to interfere in every aspect of Delhi government’s work.

Just three months after Kejriwal took oath as CM of Delhi, a notification was passed bringing a fourth issue, Services too under the Lt. Governor’s control. With this ‘new power’ even the power to appoint or transfer of class four employees was taken away from the Delhi government.

The LG cut to size?

The Supreme Court has clearly said that the Delhi Lieutenant Governor cannot act independently and must take the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers. It observed that the national capital enjoys special status and is not a full state. Hence, the role of the L-G is different than that of a Governor. The apex court also observed that neither the state nor the L-G should feel lionized, but realise they are serving Constitutional obligations. “There is no space for absolutism or anarchy in our Constitution,” the SC stated.

Just last month we had seen the ridiculous specter of the CM of a state, along with his senior Ministers sitting/ sleeping on dharna in the LG’s office for 9 days to protest against the IAS lobby not co operating with the cabinet. (And the LG, in his busy schedule had not found time to meet the CM for even 5 minutes!) The Supreme court had to interfere even then before order was re established and the IAS officers got back to work.

In the Power Tussle the people of Delhi were held hostage

While Kejriwal had complained that the LG, was interfering and holding back every file of his government, the Centre, which appoints the L-G, had contended that “for any Centrally administered territory… and especially Delhi in respect of its unique position… responsibility is on the shoulders of the Union Government”. Responsibility for what, they failed to explain. It was definitely not to see Anarchy rule over Delhi!

The hapless Delhi people have had to face unforeseen problems in the power tussle between Union Govt. and State – both which the people had ironically elected!

The pits came quite early when Delhi was turned into a ‘garbage city’ when sanitation workers went on strike when their salaries were not paid.

The verdict should not end up like the proverbial blind people and the elephant, where each constituent sees it differently

The tragedy would be if even after this verdict the egos of politicians’ concerned does not allow them to accept what the SC has said and they end up following their own interpretations of it.

All constituents, the AAP, the BJP and the IAS officers have hailed the verdict and somehow seen it as a ‘vindication’ of their point of view.

While celebrations have broken out at the AAP office and Manish Sisodia, Kejriwal and other leaders have hailed it as victory of democracy BJP Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari took a jibe against Arvind Kejriwal saying that he can longer rule in anarchy. “Start following the constitution and work for the betterment of Delhiites,” he wrote on Twitter.
BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli also slammed AAP for terming SC verdict as a “victory” for their party. Adding that the main demand if statehood has been rejected by the Centre, Kohli said, “Don’t understand how Delhi govt is claiming this to be a victory? Their main plank was that this is a state whereas Court has unequivocally said its not a state. They said they had exclusive executive control that was rejected too. This is a UT, Centre has a role to play.”

Ajay Maken of Congress has commented that ” now, since the Apex Court has clarified about the powers in Delhi-

We hope that the development which has been stalled, ever since the Congress was voted out of power, 4 yrs ago-will start again

LG and CM, stop this blame-game and develop Delhi as we successfully did for 15yrs! ”

The IAS lobby somehow sees it as vindication of their stand too!

But the cake for the strangest interpretation goes as usual to – who else but Subramaniam Swamy?

He has tweeted – Yes, what SC has said is correct that LG must respect Delhi Cabinet decisions, but if any national secuirty or anti constitutional decision is taken which they are capable of taking, as they are Naxalite type of people, then LG can oppose”!!

Does this veteran BJP politician realize that he has just accused Delhi people of electing to power ‘Naxalite kind of people?’

Something makes one wonder if the travails of Delhi people are quite over!

Is the climax of this drama yet to be enacted??

Or will the Delhi government be allowed to finally work?

Sunita Mudaliar

Executive Editor