New Delhi,Manan Kumar: Cutting short AAP government’s aspirational flight in the middle, Modi government on Friday issued a notification giving almost unbridled power to its representative, the Lieutenant governor, in key matters related to public order, land, law and order and all central government services.
Going a step further, the notification, issued after being discussed threadbare in a late evening meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi, also clipped the wings of Delhi government’s Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) by declaring that “it shall not take any cognisance of offences against officers, employees and functionaries of the central government.
The move was met amid cries of foul play by the AAP government and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal who compared the interplay between LG Najeeb Jung and PM Modi with pre-independence India when Queen of England used to send notifications to the Viceroy here.
“Pre-independence, the Queen of England used to send notifications to the Viceroy here. Now, Jung Sahab is the Viceroy and the PMO is London,” said Kejriwal.
Playing down the row, union finance minister Arun Jaitley said it is not political but constitutional and the notification issued by the home ministry is merely a clarificatory note.
“We do not want that due to confusion offices get locked,” Jaitley said.
Deriving powers from Article 239AA (inserted vide 69th amendment in 1991) of the constitution, the union home ministry notification said, “The President thereby directs that subject to his control and further orders, the LG of NCT of Delhi, shall in respect of matters connected with ‘Public Order’, ‘Police’, ‘Land’, and ‘Services’, exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the central government, to the extent delegated to him from time to time by the President.
Leaving Delhi government virtually at the mercy of the LG for choosing officers, the notification said, “…the LG may, in his discretion, obtain the views of the chief minister in regard to the matter of Services wherever he deems it appropriate.”
“Pursuant to the 69th amendment of the Constitution, parliament passed a law called the NCT of Delhi Act, 1991. Section 41 thereof is important. It provides that the Lt. Governor will act in his discretion in matters which fall outside the purview of the powers conferred to the Legislative Assembly, but which at the same time, have to be delegated to him by the President. This section is accordance with Article 239AA (3),” a senior home ministry official said.
Explaining the rationale of the notification a senior home official said, “In case of Delhi, it is a UT but with a legislative assembly. It has a trapping of a State but it is not a full State in the conventional sense. The Delhi legislative assembly does not enjoy all powers of a state assembly. Thus there are four exceptions viz. public order, police land and services in respect of which the Delhi legislative assembly does not have power to make laws.”
” And it is well established that where there is no legislative power, there is no executive power since executive power is co-extensive with legislative power. Thus, with regard to these four areas the LG will act exclusively under the overall direction and control of the central government,” said the official convinced that the notification is as per the constitution and if challenged will be upheld by the courts.
However, one murky area, officials concede, that can be put to legal scrutiny is related to curbing powers of the Delhi government’s Anti Corruption Bureau.