Resolutions against L-G Jung, MHA: It is just about Kejriwal showing up PM Modi
Constitutionally, the resolutions passed by the Delhi Assembly means nothing because it is not binding on anyone.
New Delhi: The Delhi Assembly on Wednesday passed a resolution moved by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government against the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) notification which conferred 'absolute' powers on Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung in appointments, postings and transfers of senior officials as well as matters relating to the police and public order.
The private member’s resolution moved by Somnath Bharti was passed by voice vote with a few amendments on the last day of the two-day special assembly session. Terming the notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 21 May “unconstitutional”, “invalid” and an “insult” to the “most popular mandate” the party has, it asked officials to follow the decision made by chief minister and his council of ministers, and work fearlessly.
So what does this resolution mean and can we expect now in the ongoing tug of war between the Delhi chief minister and central government?
Constitutionally, the resolutions passed by the Delhi Assembly means nothing because it is not binding on anyone, said experts.
“A resolution only expresses the will of the House. It is recommendatory in nature. The parties concerned may accept or reject it,” SK Sharma, former secretary of Lok Sabha and Delhi Assembly, said.
Political commentator and senior journalist Shesh Narayn Singh said that although the resolution does not have any constitutional importance, it can have serious political impact on the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre because the Delhi government a enjoys resounding majority. He cited the example of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
“Declaring emergency was not unconstitutional, but she had to paid its price politically in 1977 general elections (when the ruling Congress faced a humiliating defeat for the first time after independence by losing nearly 200 seats),” he explained.
“The essence of democracy is people’s will. Voters in Delhi showed confidence in AAP and brought them to power with an unprecedented majority. A perception is being created the Central government is playing the game of one-upmanship. As a result, Kejriwal is scoring points all the way,” he said.
Former AAP member, Professor Ajit Jha also says the resolution is a collective decision taken by the House but is not going to serve any purpose.
Taking about the next step the AAP could take, he told Firstpost, “They are left with two options – resolve the issue amicably or approach the court. The first does not appear to be practically possible given the sour Centre-state relations and the kind of indecent language used for a constitutional authority. The AAP government can approach the court because they have strong grounds to defend their case. They can place the resolution on record to let the court about the sentiment of the House.”
If the Centre and the state approach the court they will have to place their stand before the court regarding the demarcation of powers, he said.
“The appointment of Shakuntala Gamlin was fine but the assertion of power by the Lt Governor, excluding few discretionary powers he has, is problematic. If the Centre argues that Delhi being a Union Territory is supposed to be governed by the President through the Lt Governor, the court may ask as to what is the need to have a constituent assembly and elected representatives. And if Kejriwal argues the Lt Governor should follow his government only and act like rubber stamp, it will dilute his position. Therefore, both the parties should convince the court to make observation on the distribution of powers,” Jha said.
Talking about the tug-of-war between the two constitutional authorities, he said both Kejriwal and Jung acted 'immaturely'.
“The AAP failed to handle the issue strategically and indulged in unnecessary political posturing. Party leaders crossed the line of decency outside and inside of the House,” he concluded.
The MHA on Wednesday filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the apex court challenging the High Court’s order to the central government in connection with the arrest of a policeman by the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of the directorate of vigilance.
The AAP says it has not taken any decision on its next line of action but is exploring all options.
“We are exploring all options. Since the Centre has challenged the Delhi High Court decision in the Supreme Court, therefore we are bound to take legal route. But no decision has been taken so far on the future course of action” party spokesperson Deepak Bajpai told Firstpost.
The court had termed the notification, which barred the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of the Delhi government from taking actions against central government employees, ‘suspect’. The high court said that the Delhi government had legitimate rights to proceed and take action in complaints of corruption against such officials.
Other commentators said that the entire episode was as much about raising questions on other issues.
Hilal Ahmed, assistant professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), sees the entire episode raising a bigger question about the supremacy of elected representatives.
“The larger point is about the emerging form of federalism... When the BJP and Congress were in power here, decentralisation of power was never a point of debate. But now, Delhi is being ruled by a completely different kind of unconventional party – the AAP – which talks about decentralisation of power and supremacy of elected representatives over a non-elected person who is the Lt Governor,” he said.
“It will be interesting to observe the outcome of the battle,” he said.
Political commentator and journalist Neerja Chowdhury said Kejriwal is trying to push the envelope and advance with more strength his demand that Delhi be granted full statehood.
“With the help of the resolution passed by the Delhi Assembly, Kejriwal will try to create pressure on the Central government to accept the demand to give Delhi the status of a full-fledged state,” she said.
At the same time, the AAP convenor is also attempting to give a message to the people the Central government is not allowing him to function independently by curbing the power of the state, Chowdhury said.
“Given an adversarial position taken by the Lt Governor, Kejriwal understood well that he won’t be allowed to function independently. Therefore, he is also trying to convey this message through the resolution and a series of statements against the Centre and the Lt Governor and he has got success in this strategy to a large extent,” she said, added the Centre’s notification made his job easier.
“The note and the latest Delhi High Court observation sent across a message that an elected chief minister is not allowed to appoint even bureaucrats of his choice. As a result, Kejriwal is getting the sympathy of people. He has got the support of state leaders as well,” Chowdhury said.
The BJP, for now, is nonchalant and sees no merit in the resolution passed by the Delhi Assembly.
“Controversial statements were converted into a resolution and it appears that the Kejriwal government, which works on whims, called the session to just mock at one more constitutional provision,” Satish Upadhyay, president of the Delhi wing of the party, said in a statement.
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