L-G well within his powers to appoint officials, says Centre

Amid the impasse over division of powers in Delhi, the centre has unequivocally backed Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung, saying it was not mandatory for him to consult Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on matters such as appointment of officials.

Details:

  • A Gazette notification, issued by the Union Home Ministry has said that the Lieutenant-Governor would have jurisdiction over matters connected with
    1. Services,
    2. Public order,
    3. Police and
    4. Land.
  • It left matters pertaining to services of bureaucrats to be settled by the Lieutenant-Governor, allowing him discretionary powers to seek the opinion of the Chief Minister as and when the former deemed it fit.
  • The notification has barred the Delhi government from registering any case against officers and political functionaries of the Union government, reiterating the fact that by a July 2014 notification, the Anti-Corruption Branch of the Delhi government could file cases against only its officials and not against those of the Union government.

The Delhi Assembly, in March, passed a unanimous resolution against the July 2014 notification, alleging that it diluted the powers of the said anti-graft body.

Background:

  • The tussle started when Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung appointed Shakuntala Gamlin as acting chief secretary without consulting the Council of Ministers of Delhi Government.

What Laws says?

  • Section 41 of the Government of National Capital Territory Act of Delhi says that Lt. Governor can use his discretion only in matters which fall outside the purview of the Legislative Assembly.
  • Article 239AA (3) (a) of the Constitution reserves some matters under the State List which allows the LG to use his discretionary powers – public order, police and land. This Article was incorporated into the Constitution by the 69th Amendment in 1991, by which the Union Territory of Delhi was called the ‘National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi’ with the Lt. Governor as its administrator.
  • Section 44 of the 1991 Act has left it to the President to frame the procedure in case there is a “difference of opinion” between the LG and the Council of Ministers. The same provision provides that “all executive action of Lieutenant Governor whether taken on the advice of his Ministers or otherwise shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the Lieutenant Governor.”
  • Section 45 mandates that it is the duty of the Chief Minister to communicate to the Lieutenant Governor all decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the Capital and proposals for legislation.

Who deals with matters related to Land and Police?

  • In matters of police and land, the Union Ministries of Home Affairs and Urban Development are in direct charge.
  • The Lt Governor is the chairperson of the Delhi Development Authority or DDA, and he does not act in tandem with the Chief Minister, but uses his discretion.

Since NCT of Delhi does not have its own State Public Services, the central government, through notification, has said that matters related Services are dealt by Lt Governor. And hence matters related to services fall outside the purvies of the Delhi Legislative Assembly.

Sources: The Hindu, BS, PIB.

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