In what could add new dimensions in an on-going debate of statehood for Delhi, a ruling from Delhi High Court empowered the state’s Anti-Corruption Branch to arrest the personnel from Delhi Police in the matters concerning the Prevention of Corruption act. Delhi Police personnel reports to Union Home Ministry and therefore the administrative jurisdiction on them lies with the office of Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and not the Delhi government.
For the last 10 days, Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government is locked in a stalemate with the LG office. Last week the Delhi Chief Minister and the ruling AAP chieftain Kejriwal had also alleged that Narendra Modi-led Central government is interfering in the matters of Delhi government. The High Court order on Monday afternoon is sure to add more in this debate.
Passing orders on the bail application of a Delhi police head constable arrested by the Delhi government’s anti-corruption branch in a corruption, the bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi ruled that Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has the jurisdiction to arrest policemen.
“Since the applicant is a Delhi Police personnel serving the citizens in the NCTD and the functions of the Delhi Police personnel substantially and essentially relate to the affairs of the GNCTD, in my view, the ACB of the GNCTD has the jurisdiction to entertain and act on a complaint under the PC Act in respect of a Delhi Police officer or official, and to investigate and prosecute the crime,” the judge said while reading his order.
In the process, the bench rejected head constable’s bail application plea. The head constable was arrested on May 2 from the Sonia Vihar police station in Northeast Delhi by the ACB.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal was quick to react at the High Court order.
“Congrats. Del HC strikes down Centre’s effort to weaken Delhi’s ACB. Del HC- Centre has no jurisdiction to pass notification on ACB’s powers,” wrote Kejriwal on a micro-blogging site Twitter.
Taking a swipe at BJP-led Central government, Kejriwal added, “Today’s HC judgement a huge embarrassment for central govt. HC also said that the latest 21st May MHA notification is “suspect”.
The Delhi High Court order further read, “Delhi shall not be administered by the President through LG with respect to the matters over which Legislative Assembly has authority to make laws. The ACB should take orders from the Delhi government and not Lieutenant Governor”.
AAP, which promised a full statehood in its election manifesto during the campaign for the state assembly polls, has been seeking a larger share of say on the administrative matters. This has resulted in a face-off between the Centre and the State government.
As per the current constitutional position, Delhi LG has a say on the matters concerning police, public order, land and services. Whereas, the Delhi government has a jurisdiction over the matters concerning Legislative Assembly. And now the Delhi High Court’s ruling may just add contours to the current issue.