In a set-back to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Supreme Court has refused to hear Delhi government’s plea seeking to restrain the Delhi High Court from delivering its verdict on the issue of scope of powers of the elected government of Delhi. AAP-led Delhi government, locked in a very public tussle with the BJP-led Centre over the issue, had contended in its plea that the apex court alone has the exclusive jurisdiction to hear the matters involving federal structure, especially the issues relating to the powers of States and Centre.
“The high court which has heard the matter can pronounce judgement on all issues including that of jurisdiction,” the Supreme Court said in its order on Delhi government’s petition.
“Tell me why you (Delhi government) knocked the door of the Delhi High Court first… Now High Court has reserved the judgment and every court has the power to determine its jurisdiction,”
the bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said.
It is important to note that the original plea in the High Court was filed by the Delhi government last year challenging the Centre’s notification of May 21, 2015 giving the LG absolute powers to appoint bureaucrats in the city.
Contending that Delhi High court be restrained from pronouncing its verdict on the plea, the Delhi government had filed a petition before the Supreme Court last week.
Appearing for the Delhi government, senior advocate Indira Jaising had sought an urgent hearing in the matter.
“No judgement be allowed to be delivered without decision on the jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court with regard to the dispute in question,” she had said arguing that the dispute is centered around the powers of Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) under Article 239A of the Constitution.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP has been alleging that the elected government is unable to function as most of its decisions are either annulled or changed by Centre at the behest of Lieutenant Governor (LG) Najeeb Jung on the ground that Delhi is not a complete state.
In its plea, the Delhi government has also raised a question as to whether the Union of India can take over all powers of the state government.
A total of 11 cases arising out of the confrontation between the LG and Delhi government have been heard by the Delhi high court before it reserved its verdict.
Among the matters where Kejriwal government have locked horns with the Centre also includes the July 23, 2014 notification by the Centre limiting the jurisdiction of the Anti Corruption Branch to Delhi government officials only.
The recent issue of the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal’s top aide Rajendra Kumar by the CBI has also added to the already heightened tussle.
Earlier, President Pranab Mukherjee had also returned the AAP government’s legislation to protect its 21 MLAs from the disqualification for holding the ‘Office of Profit’. The matter is now before the Election Commission.