Delhi will bear witness to high political drama on Monday as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and all AAP MLAs will march from his residence to the Lieutenant-Governor House, to discuss the acrimony over the issue of setting up CCTV cameras in the city.
The decision to hold the march comes after a weeklong battle of letters and words between the Delhi government and the L-G office over the issue of setting up 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras across the capital.
The rift was kicked off by Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal's decision to set up a committee to formulate a Standard Operating Procedure and regulatory framework to set up CCTV cameras in Delhi. The L-G took this decision in response to the Delhi government's proposal to set up 1.4 lakh cameras in the city.
While supporting his decision to set up the committee, Baijal said in a letter to the chief minister: "Uncontrolled and unregulated mushrooming of CCTV cameras does not lead to any effective outcome for security and law enforcement and it may encroach upon the privacy of individuals. So, to use these cameras effectively for law enforcement, prevention of crime and investigation, an SOP/regulatory framework for CCTV cameras is imperative."
The L-G also stated: "No proposal relating to the award of work for installation of CCTV cameras has been received in the office of the L-G. It has been learnt that a Cabinet Note on the issue of the award of work for installation of CCTV cameras by PWD is yet to be circulated. So, the matter is pending with the elected government only. No directions have been issued by this office to stall or stop the award of work for CCTV tender."
But Kejriwal is in no mood to listen. He shot back a letter in response, accusing the L-G of attempting to create hurdles in the work of installing CCTV cameras. He also rejected the committee.
"We reject your committee as it has been set up to create hurdles and it has been set up without any legal basis and without jurisdiction. The committee is illegal and unconstitutional," the letter written on Saturday said.
The letter also questioned the L-G: "More than two lakh cameras were installed by other agencies in the last two years. Why didn't you set up any committee then? The NDMC is the most high-security area of Delhi and they have installed several thousand cameras in the last two years. Why did you not set up a committee then? Now when the Delhi government wants to install CCTV cameras, you have set up this committee arbitrarily, bypassing the elected government."
The chief minister further said: "You have said that this committee will draft regulatory framework, rules and procedures for installation of cameras. Which law gives powers to L-G to set up such a committee to frame regulatory framework and make laws and rules for installing CCTV cameras? Sir, there is a Constitution and there are laws and L-G is bound by those laws and the Constitution. Why are you violating the Constitution?"
Prior to this letter, Kejriwal also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, complaining about the L-G. At the outset of the letter, he congratulated the prime minister for providing for death penalty for rapists and also said that the CCTVs were meant for the safety of women.
"But suddenly, your L-G has caused hurdles in the work. If he had to form a committee, that could have been done with consultation with us. Why it was decided to form without our knowledge. The very act of doing so indicates that his intention is not good," the letter complained.
On the other hand, Kejriwal in the letter to the L-G announced that he along with his cabinet colleagues and MLAs would march from his home to the L-G House on Monday at 3 pm. "We are all coming tomorrow. We hope you will find time to meet us," the letter said.
But a source in the L-G office said: "The Delhi government has sought appointment from the L-G. But we are yet to confirm the appointment."
Recently, the Delhi government had allotted work of Rs 350 crore to a central government-owned Public Sector Unit, BEL to set up 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras on the streets and bye-lanes of the city.
"We were ready to set up CCTV cameras as advised by the women residing in various localities of the city. But the L-G office decided to create hurdles in the project at that moment," said Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.
Updated Date: May 14, 2018 14:07 PM