AAP-LG standoff in Delhi: SC refuses urgent hearing on plea to declare Arvind Kejriwal's dharna 'unconstitutional'

Amid the ongoing tussle between the Aam Aadmi Party government and the Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal, the Supreme Court on Tuesday denied an urgent hearing into the plea seeking action against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for staging dharna.

A vacation bench comprising Justice SA Nazeer and Justice Indu Malhotra said the plea will be listed for hearing after the summer vacation.

Lawyer Shashank Sudhi, appearing for petitioner Hari Nath Ram, sought the urgent hearing of the plea, saying a constitutional crisis has been created due to "the unconstitutional and illegal" protest by the chief minister inside Baijal's office. Moreover, the citizens are "left high and dry", he said.

The Delhi High Court, which had heard the matters on the issue on Monday, posted them for hearing on 22 June. Sudhi told the apex court that the city is facing an "emergency situation" in which citizens are facing severe water crisis.

"We will list it on reopening of the court," the bench said, while declining the request for urgent hearing.

Besides seeking declaration of the sit-in as unconstitutional, the plea also sought initiation of perjury proceedings against either the chief minister or the office of the lieutenant-governor on the ground that one of them is lying.

While hearing two petitions — one against Kejriwal's protest and another against the alleged strike by IAS officers of the Delhi administration — the Delhi High Court on Monday questioned the venue of the protest. "Who authorised the strike/dharna (sit-in by Kejriwal)? You are sitting inside the lieutenant-governor's's office. If it's a strike, it has to be outside the office. You cannot hold a strike inside someone's office or residence," the court said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The observation by a bench of Justice AK Chawla and Justice Navin Chawla had come while hearing two petitions, one against Kejriwal's protest and another against the alleged strike by IAS officers of the Delhi administration.

Responding to the query by the bench, senior advocate Sudhir Nandrajog, who appeared for the Delhi government, said Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues took the decision to protest in their individual capacity and they were empowered to do so under Constitution.

Nandrajog also told the court that the only direction that can be issued by the bench in these matters was to the IAS officers to attend routine departmental meetings held by the ministers.

He said an association representing the bureaucrats had admitted in a press conference on Sunday that they were not attending routine meetings.

During the arguments, the Central government told the court that no IAS officers were on strike and urged the bench to direct Kejriwal and others to vacate Baijal's office.

Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta also moved the high court on Monday against Kejriwal's protest. BJP MP Parvesh Singh Sahib, rebel AAP MLA Kapil Mishra and BJP MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa are joint petitioners along with Gupta.

The AAP later said that the party had followed proper procedures and will respond to the court.

"Whatever the high court has asked, we will answer. But I want to clarify one thing. As far as the protest at lieutenant-governor's office is concerned, it did not happen in just one day. We followed all the procedures, wrote letters, sent requests, did everything but ultimately, when we reached out to the lieutenant-governor, he did not even have five minutes to meet us," party leader Sanjay Singh said in response to queries at a press conference.

Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and ministers Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai had been camping in the Raj Niwas, the official accommodation-cum-office of Baijal, since 11 June. Sisodia and Jain, who had later gone on a hunger fast, were hospitalised following deterioration in their health condition. Both were discharged on Tuesday.

With inputs from agencies


Updated Date: Jun 19, 2018 14:06 PM

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