New Delhi: The controversial proposal placed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Adarsh Shastri in the Delhi Assembly on the first day of the two-day special session of the House in which he had sought constitutional amendment to empower state assemblies to impeach governors and lieutenant governors, has been described by constitutional experts as “absurd”, “childish” and a “cheap publicity stunt to grab headlines”.
“I demanded that the House passes a resolution asking Parliament to amend articles 155 and 156 of the Constitution so that state assemblies can have powers to impeach governors and lieutenant governors,” Shastri said amidst the ongoing tussle of power between the AAP-led Delhi government and Lt Governor Najeeb Jung.
Later, he told reporters that he was just making a point in line with the views expressed by the Sarkaria Commission (set up in June 1983) and various courts of law for reforming the federal structure of the Constitution.
Reacting sharply on the AAP lawmaker’s demand, SK Sharma – former Lok Sabha and Delhi Assembly secretary – said, “The suggestions made by Mr Shastri were absurd and aimed at creating a tamasha. There is no such provision in the Constitution. Lieutenant governors are appointed by the President and only he can remove him.”
He said impeachment is very difficult process generally used to remove the judges or Presidents. “First of all, the crime of the person concerned should be serious and in violation of the constitution. It is examined by one House of Parliament and if the allegations are found to be true, then charges are framed. These charges are then investigated by other House of Parliament. If the charges framed are established, then impeachment takes place. Sometimes, the House can also ask the person concerned to present before the members to defend himself or herself,” he told Firstpost.
Subhash C Kahyap, ex-secretary general, Lok Sabha, agreed with the views expressed by Sharma but said, “Everyone is free to make suggestions. The demand to amend the existing articles of the Constitution (that provides for impeachment of President, governors, lieutenant governors and judges) has no merit because if it is done, it will become a fashion to recommend for removal of the Constitutional head in states in case of confrontation with the respective governments.”
At the same time, he said an assembly is the House of elected representatives of people. “AAP has a massive mandate, which must be respected. But one must not forget that there is one more government in Delhi, which represents the entire country and has equal massive mandate of people from across the nation, including the people of the national capital. Delhi is a union territory, which is by definition a territory of the Union and governed by the President through the Lt Governor. But is happening is shameful and unfortunate. Stamping authority on each other violating the Constitution of India is unconstitutional,” he added.
Justice Rajindar Sachar, former chief of Delhi High Court, terms Shastri’s suggestion “childish”. “Even two persons can sit together and pass a resolution but it is not compulsory for the government to accept it. And above all, what is the need of impeachment of a constitutional authority. If both parties have conflict of interest, they should try to resolve it amicably. They have also the option to go to court.”
He also suggested the Centre not to be so “harsh” on a democratically elected government, which enjoys such an overwhelming majority. “The Centre should seriously try to end the ongoing stalemate because it is ultimately people who are suffering. It should respect the people’s sentiment and allow the Delhi government independently within constitutional framework,” he said adding that if you (referring to AAP) are challenging a system, then admit it openly. Today, you are proposing to impeach the Lt Governor, tomorrow you will demand that the President and Prime Minister be impeached”.
Supreme Court lawyer Aishwarya Bhati says state assemblies are not empowered enough to impeach the governor or the Lt Governor.
“The constitutional mandate is extremely clear. Although Delhi enjoys a special status, but still it is a union territory under Part 8 of the Indian Constitution. States are in Part 6, which does not include Delhi. Part 8 Constitutional hierarchy states that a Union Territory is directly governed by the President through the Lt Governor. The Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers is on the first level of the hierarchy, the Lt Governor comes on second and the President comes on the third and final level. Therefore, the Lt Governor should work by and large on the aid and advice of the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers except the areas where he has discretionary powers,” she told Firstpost.
Notably, she adds, the Lt Governor is “supreme in a Union Territory and he may or may not accept the aid and advice of the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers”.
Taking about the much talked about Delhi High Court ruling that termed the May 21 gazette notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs a “suspect”, Bhati said, “It appears that the Delhi government is taking a boost on the Delhi High Court order. It is a classic example of bad interpretation of a good law. All the observations made by the court were not part of the ratio decidendi. It was obiter dicta, which are not binding but persuasive only. The ruling was with regard to a kidnapping case filed (on May 2) by the wife of a Delhi police head constable (posted in Sonia Vihar police station in northeast Delhi) who was caught by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of the Delhi government for allegedly demanding bribe. The hearings of the case were completed before the MHA notification came. Therefore, it has nothing to do with the ongoing fight between the Delhi Chief Minister and the Lt Governor.”
Soon after the verdict, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had tweeted, “Today’s High Court judgement (is) a huge embarrassment for central government. HC also said that the latest 21st May MHA notification is ‘suspect’.”
Earlier, the Delhi Police was pulled up by the High Court for questioning the jurisdiction of ACB in arresting Kumar.
In a notification on May 21, the MHA had barred the ACB from registering any case against officers and political functionaries of the central government.
The ruling came amid a tug-of-war between the AAP government and the Lt Governor over posting and transfers of senior officials as well as some other contentious issues.
Advocate Bhati alleged that the Kejriwal government wants the controversy to keep alive for political reasons. “If they (AAP) have problems with the Lt Governor or the Centre’s notification, it is their constitutional right to approach the court and seek its intervention. But they are willingly not doing so because they do not want the issue to die down. Political posturing is being done, propaganda is being spread and theatrics are being played to mislead people,” she added.
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Updated Date: May 27, 2015 14:32:51 IST