By Ruchika Thakur:
The tussle between Lieutenant Governor Najib Jung and the Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal has escalated so much that it hasn’t even escaped Kamaal R Khan’s attention, and for once I don’t disagree with him completely. So what exactly is going on in Delhi that the matter has reached the President?
Delhi enjoys a special status among Union Territories which empowers the Delhi Assembly to promulgate rules on all subjects except topics such as law and order and land. On the other hand the Constitution and the Government of National Capital Territory (GNCT) of Delhi Act, 1991 allows the L.G. an executive authority over the police, law and order and land departments. The tiff between the two has arisen out of the struggle to decide who gets to run Delhi.
The struggle started when an interim secretary was to be appointed till the return of Chief Secretary K.K. Sharma. Anindo Majumdar, the Principal Secretary issued an appointment of acting Chief Secretary to Shakuntala Gamlin. But Kejriwal accused her of favouring power companies and insisted on the appointment of Parimal Rai. Later, Majumdar was removed from his office and CM’s Secretary Rajendra Kumar was appointed as Principal Secretary. But the LG declared both, removal of Majumdar and appointment of Kumar in his place as void.
It is vital to understand that the Chief Secretary acts as a right hand of the Chief Minister and also as a link between the government and the bureaucracy. Hence, it is of significance that both share a good rapport with each other. So does the L.G. have the powers to bypass the C.M., the council of ministers; and appoint a Chief Secretary or directly give directions? Article 239 AA of the Constitution read along with the relevant provisions of GNCT Act and The Transaction of Business Rules gives ample scope for interpretation to each side leading to vagueness.
These provisions give a lot of powers to the L.G., but it is imperative of him to take decisions with the consultation of the Chief Minister and the council of Ministers. If a common ground is not achieved, then the matter can be referred to the President. In case of urgent matters, the L.G. will have the discretion to decide on such matters. So when the Chief Minister argues that the L.G. is overstepping his powers, his argument is valid, because the L.G. doesn’t have the discretion to appoint or remove the Chief Secretary unless he has acted in consonance with the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers.
However, the accusation made by the C.M. and his deputy border defamation and it is not right to muddy the name of an IAS officer in such a manner. It is crucial that the bureaucracy and the governing authority act in tandem with each other. Moreover, it is high time the C.M. got out of his activist mode and started governing. The C.M. and the L.G. both are guardians of the people of Delhi and it is shameful that they keep bickering like an old couple.