Government the biggest litigant


The continuing face-off between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi and the Union government over jurisdiction to govern the Capital and make bureaucratic appointments has added a new dimension to the government's litigation in the Delhi High Court. Government continues to be the biggest litigant in a variety of cases in the court.

In the fresh round of litigation, the High Court has been called upon to resolve the matters involving interpretation of Constitutional provisions. Since these cases are going to make a significant impact on the Centre-State relations – an important domain of the federal structure of the Constitution – the High Court has been hearing them on priority.

While some of the petitions have been moved by the Delhi government, others were filed by a cross-section of petitioners ranging from activists, lawyers and politicians to public-spirited citizens. Some of the petitioners have taken exception to the AAP government's decisions taken without the approval of the Lieutenant-Governor.

The Delhi government has challenged the validity of the Ministry of Home Affairs notification of May 21 this year, by which it has extended absolute powers to appoint civil servants in the Capital to L-G. In particular, the AAP government has questioned the L-G’s decision to appoint Shakuntala Gamlin as the Chief Secretary and M.K. Meena as the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) chief.

A reference in this connection has been made to the Transaction of Business Rules, which the Delhi government says do not allow the L-G to take decisions. Unlike in other States, the matters of police, public order and land in Delhi fall within the purview of the Union government.

Another case pending in the High Court deals with the ACB’s power to investigate the officers of the Centre. After the ACB under the previous AAP regime filed an FIR last year against Reliance India Limited, a Union Minister and senior bureaucrats, the Centre challenged the Delhi government's powers to do so.

Enhancement of circle rates for agricultural land is another matter that has attracted two public interest litigations in the High Court. The Delhi government has claimed that the notification for this has been issued in the L-G’s name, while the latter has asked the government to maintain status quo till the issue is legally examined.

Two writ petitions filed by Transport Department officers have challenged the Delhi government’s decision to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to probe into alleged CNG fitness certificates scam. Some officers of the then Sheila Dikshit government were under the scanner in the case.

The AAP government’s decision to nominate new directors to the boards of power distribution companies, in which it has 49 per cent stake, without seeking the LG’s approval, has also been challenged in the High Court.

A prolonged legal battle in all these matters is on the cards with the Centre maintaining that the MHA’s May 21 notification is in line with Article 239-AA of the Constitution, which lays down the scheme for distribution of powers between the Delhi government and L-G.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 4:14:52 AM |

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