When the former Delhi Lieutenant Governor, Najeeb Jung, resigned prematurely from his term, the question remained whether this will mean the end of the face-off between the National Capital's administrator and the chief minister. However, Jung's stepping down did mark an end to one of the most "bittersweet" relationship, between a governor and a state's chief minister in recent times.
While on one hand, the Arvind Kejriwal dispensation, repeatedly accused Jung of "stalling" governance and acting as the "agent" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah; Jung, on the other hand, steadfastly maintained that he was merely following the constitutional provisions in "letter and spirit."
While Jung asserted at one point that "in respect to the NCT (National Capital Territory) of Delhi, the government means the Lieutenant Governor of the NCT of Delhi", Kejriwal questioned if that was the case, what was the need of an elected government. As the matter remains subjudice, only the Supreme Court will tell in time as to which constitutional post wields more power in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, Frontline has reported that it has data to indicate that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) took "extraordinary interest" in the functioning of the state government shortly after Kejriwal took over as the chief minister after a shocking defeat for the BJP.
Citing the Ministry of Home Affairs and PMO's response to a number of RTIs, the news journal states that the Centre was not only closely monitoring the functioning of the state "but also closely following up on matters linked to it since March 2015."
The report sites an instance, where Frontline obtained an email by the Hindustan Times Executive Editor, Shishir Gupta to the PMO, which entails a series of measures taken by the Kejriwal government "to abrogate" the powers of the Central government or the Delhi administrator. One of the instances it cites is the Kejriwal government's infamous order to route all reports sent to the L-G through his office, which was later reversed by Jung.
The report states that the email was drafted in such a way that it did not seek a response from the PMO, and hence never elicited a reply from the PMO, even as Gupta in his clarification told Frontline that the email was written to seek Shah and PMO's response on the issue for a news story. However, just two days after receiving Gupta's email, the PMO sought a “factual report” from the MHA on the email in less than five days.
The Hindustan Times, according to the Frontline, published this lone story on the issue, which omitted many of the pointers elaborated in the email.
The factual report or the evidence of the draft could not be traced by the magazine in its series of RTIs, however, many of the subsequent issues flagged by Jung and the MHA were the same as mentioned in Gupta's email.
At the root of this issue is the Article 239 of the Constitution, which states that the head of the Delhi will be an administrator (the post of the Governor as appointed by the President of India). But on 1 February, 1992, Article 239 was amended, which granted Delhi the special status of the National Capital Territory, giving it's administrative rights to a Lieutenant-Governor.
According to Article 239 AA, the elected government in Delhi is within its rights to rule on all subjects in the state except for public order, police (including railway and village police) and land, that is to say, rights in or over land, land tenures etc.
The above mentioned article, although clearly defines the jurisdiction of each of the two constitutional posts, it also leaves enough ambiguity for a conflict situation to emerge. And conflicts have emerged in the past as pointed out in this article by The Indian Express.
However, never before has such an ugly stand-off between the Delhi chief minister and the L-G has taken place over issues as trivial as the appointment of bureaucrats, argues Sandipan Sharma in this Firstpost article.
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Updated Date: Jan 05, 2017 22:04:00 IST