Who Is the Boss? SC Rules For Kejriwal In Setback to BJP
Decks cleared for AAP to resume control
NEW DELHI: No doubt a spectacular victory for democracy, and for the Delhi government under Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with the Supreme Court making it clear that the Lieutenant Governor’s concurrence is not required in all matters. And that he is bound by the advice of the cabinet being little more than an administrator.
"The Lt Governor is an administrator in a limited sense and is not the Governor. He is bound by the advice of cabinet advice in matters other than those exempted," the court said in a ruling that comes after Kejriwal spent nine days protesting against undue interference in the visitors room at LG Anil Baijal’s residence.
The ruling comes as a major setback to the BJP government at the centre, as it frees AAP from the strangehold that had been imposed in almost all matters---including simple postings and transfers---to take decisions and move into action before the Lok Sabha polls next year. Kejriwal lost no time in summoning a meeting of Cabinet Ministers to discuss the various proposals that had been pending or obstructed during these years. Now armed with the Court order, AAP that had been almost reduced to a silent bystander in its own territory can be expected to swing into action and make its presence felt in the national capital it controls.
Reading out the verdict, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said the Lt Governor needs to work harmoniously with the Delhi government. The apex court disagreed with the Delhi High Court declaring the Lt Governor as the administrative boss maintaining that he "should not act in a mechanical manner and stall decisions of the Delhi cabinet".
Kejriwal hailed the verdict as a “big victory for the people of Delhi… a big victory for democracy….” And went on to summon a meeting of all Cabinet ministers later in the day at his residence to discuss, as he put it, “critical projects of public importance which were blocked so far.”
The blatant interference in the Delhi governments functioning started from the time of the earlier Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and has continued since. The latest confrontation between the two started after Delhi’s Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash alleged an attack by AAP legislators at a late night meeting at the CM’s residence. AAP wanted Baijal to step in and end an officers boycott that followed this allegation. Finally talks were agreed on and Kejriwal ended his impromptu strike at the Lt Governors office but started a signature campaign for full statehood for Delhi.
AAP has faced opposition from both the BJP and the Congress since it swept to power in 2015 with 67 of the 70 seats in the Delhi Assembly. The BJP was reduced to just three and Kejriwal and his Ministers have since spoken of the ‘misuse’ of the Lt Governors office to block every action taken by the state government since. Even its right to make appointments, or post or transfer officials, was thwarted.
"There is no room for absolutism and there is no room for anarchism also," the Supreme Court said, referring to both the BJP and AAP without saying so directly.