The crisis further deepens.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is quoting senior lawyers and constitutional experts K. K. Venugopal and Gopal Subramaniam on Ministry of Home Affairs’s (MHA) gazette notification calling it an unconstitutional act by the Government of India.
Former solicitor general of India is of the view that Kejriwal and his cabinet has legitimate rights to appoints ‘civil servants’ and functionaries for their own government, against the MHA notification that makes it the exclusive domain of the Lieutenant-Governor. “Such an exercise may be assailed in a court of law as a fraud on the Constitution or a colourable exercise of authority…It singularly lacks propriety when the President is still seized with the question. It is illegal and unconstitutional; and presumably, it has been issued without the requisite presidential approval” – the Times of India quoted him saying.
His views were echoed by senior lawyer K. K. Venugopal. He, too, termed the MHA notification unconstitutional and ‘void’. He backed Arvind Kejriwal on Shakuntala Gamlin’s appointment.
The latest controversy in ‘chief minister Vs lieutenant-governor’ story began with the appointment of Shakuntala Gamlin as the acting chief secretary of Delhi as Delhi’s K. K. Sharma was on a personal leave for 10 days.
Gamlin wrote to the L-G that the Delhi government was sitting on the appointment even if she completed all requirements and norms. She even figured in the list sent to the L-G by the deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.
Reasons best known to Kejriwal, though he officially said that he didn’t like Gamlin as she was backing corporate interests and he even wanted to remove her from the office of the power secretary, made the Delhi government sat on the file for three days before her appointment by the L-G.
The row that began with Shakuntala Gamlin’s appointment saw heads of other civil services officials roll in an ugly public display. Subsequently, officers held a meeting. Both, the Delhi CM and the Delhi L-G met the President separately. Kejriwal tried to drag in the Union government. Though Narendra Modi has not, so far, spoken on the issue, even if Kejriwal has blamed his government for ‘running Delhi by proxy’, his Home Ministry under Rajnath Singh, has issued a notification backing the L-G.
The MHA notification says the power to appoint the civil servants rests with the L-G and consulting the CM depends on the L-G’s discretion. The notification also says the Anti-corruption Branch (ACB) of the Delhi government cannot take cognizance of offences committed by the central government employees.
And Kejriwal is not going to take it. In fact, the notification has given him another opportunity to squeeze in the political mileage. The party met today and has called a special session of the Delhi assembly on May 26 and 27 to further discuss the notification.
So far, we have not heard a written reply by the President. Constitutional experts are divided over the issue. Those consulted by the AAP support the party’s stand. There are others including Subhash Kashyap who support the stand taken by the L-G.
The MHA notification has further exacerbated the issue. And it is expected to figure prominently in the public dialogue organized tomorrow at Connaught Place on completion of 100 days of Kejriwal government in Delhi.
The row, effectively, has been converted into a political slugfest now.
Kejriwal terms the notification a ‘nervous’ move by the Union government. Manish Sisodia is alleging a section of officers behind it who were behind the ‘transfer-posting’ industry that the AAP government shut down. The AAP leaders and spokespersons are seeing ‘collusion’ behind the latest row. They are still trying to make it ‘Modi Vs Kejriwal’. They are asking the government the constitutional provisions that allow sweeping powers to the L-G in the case.
On his part, Najeeb Jung has not spoken much, apart from issuing written missives. Rajnath Singh said Kejriwal and Jung should sit together and resolve the issue. Arun Jaitley and other BJP leaders have blamed the AAP for high handedness, constitutional impropriety and trying to suppress the laws that govern Delhi.
So, what does the Constitution of India and related laws say?
It is to be seen which third party response the AAP would accept – the President’s or the court’s. Let’s see if the President comes up with a written response on the whole issue and let’s see if that is acceptable to the parties involved, now that there central government is also involved.
Or is it heading to the legal opinion of the court as the last resort?
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/