Delhi contests home ministry notification, HC hearing on Friday




By NewsGram Staff Writer

Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government on Thursday moved the Delhi High Court, challenging the union home ministry’s May 21 notification.  The notification maintained that Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung has discretionary powers for appointments and transfers to key bureaucratic posts in the capital. Delhi government mentioned the matter before a division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, which posted the hearing for Friday. Challenging the “constitutional validity” of the notification, the city government sought its quashing by the high court.

The high court bench also posted for Friday a similar plea filed by law student Vibhor Anand. It challenged the home ministry notification and contended the appointment of senior bureaucrat Shakuntala Gamlin as the acting chief secretary by the Delhi Lt. Governor as “illegal”.

“There is already a similar petition filed by the Delhi government. We will hear both on Friday,” the bench said. The petitions, filed within days of a high court order terming the May 21 notification as “suspect”, have contended that it was “ultra vires” of the constitutional provisions, i.e. Article 239 AA (4), and that the Center does not have the jurisdiction over matters connected with services of bureaucrats in the national capital.

“Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain informed the high court that the Center had also approached the Supreme Court to challenge the high court order that termed ‘suspect’ its notification barring Delhi government’s anti-corruption branch (ACB) from acting against its officers in criminal offences.” Law student Vibhor Anand in his PIL said: “Delhi is neither a full state nor a union territory and Delhi is governed by Articles 239-AA and 239-AB of Constitution of India (which deals with union territories) introduced by a constitutional amendment in 1991.”

“As per Section 41 of the GNCT Act, 1991, the Lieutenant Governor does not have any discretion to appoint Gamlin as the chief secretary and other such posts, nor any special law granted him this discretion,” the petition read.

The petitioner also said that the Lt. Governor is “dutybound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers and the chief minister in all matters that concern the legislative assembly as per Article 239 AA (4) of the Constitution of India and Section 41 of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991.”

The petition highlighted a Supreme Court constitutional bench judgment in which the phrase “aid and advice” as used in Article 239-AA has been interpreted “to mean that the aid and advice of the council of ministers and the chief minister is binding on the Governor, it is not just advisory.”

The turf war between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung over the control of key bureaucratic appointments was sparked by the appointment of Gamlin as acting chief secretary of Delhi by the Lt. Governor on May 15.

(With inputs from IANS)