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SC to lay down law on LG’s power

Describing the prolonged Centre-Arvind Kejriwal turf war over who controls Delhi as an “extraordinary matter”, the Supreme Court agreed to lay down the law on whether the Lieutenant Governor (LG) can unilaterally administer the National Capital without being bound by the “aid and advice” of the elected government.

In a boisterous hearing, bordering on the acrimonious, a Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and N.V. Ramana on Friday issued notice to the Union on a batch of seven petitions filed by the Delhi government challenging the Delhi High Court’s August 4 judgment. The HC had upheld the LG’s power not only over the police, land and public order but also in “services”. The judgment had effectively shrunk the Kejriwal Cabinet’s girth.

The Bench however, refused to stay the HC judgment, despite submissions by senior advocate and Delhi government's counsel, K.K. Venugopal, that the verdict “affects all future governments and all future relationships between the Centre and the State”.

The Kejriwal government dismissed Delhi's LG as “unqualified” to administer the National Capital, a mere “employee of the Centre” and the latter half of a “master-servant relationship”. Mr. Venugopal accused LG Najeeb Jung of making “deliberate attempts” to thwart the appeals from being filed in the Supreme Court.

Mr. Venugopal submitted that senior officials in the Delhi government would not even affix their signatures on the petitions. After the HC verdict, the LG had directed the withdrawal of all Delhi government-appointed panel of advocates and senior advocates, thus handicapping its legal representation in courts.

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