Court cannot impose any opinion

The Supreme Court on Thursday made it clear that it was open to Delhi’s Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung to decide on the timing of Assembly dissolution. A Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and Kurian Joseph said it could not impose any opinion on when the Lt. Governor or the President should take a call on the issue.

The Bench was hearing a plea filed by the Aam Aadmi Party, challenging the keeping of the Assembly in suspended animation. Both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party opposed its dissolution.

Appearing for the Congress, K. Parasaran argued that the petition was not maintainable. “It is for the Lt-Governor to decide when to recommend dissolution of the House after assessing the situation,” he said. In its written response, the Congress said it was not desirable and conducive to the public interest to hold frequent elections. It was not within the scope of the judiciary to determine whether the Assembly could be dissolved or kept in suspended animation or if government formation was possible.

Appearing for the BJP, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi said: “As and when the Lt-Governor invites the BJP for consultation on whether government formation is possible, appropriate decision will be taken by the appropriate authority in the party. It is for the Lt-Governor to take a call when to dissolve the Assembly. The AAP’s petition is nothing but an attempt to short-circuit the democratic process.”

When Justice Lodha wanted to know from the Centre whether the Lt-Governor could revisit the presidential proclamation and make a recommendation within a year, the period for which President’s Rule could remain in force as per law, Additional Solicitor-General K.V. Viswanathan said, “The Lt-Governor can send his recommendation to the President even before the expiry of a year.”

Senior counsel Fali Nariman appeared for the AAP.

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.

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