SC asks the Delhi HC to decide Delhi vs Centre tussle

Rajat Kain

kejriwal_oathThe Supreme Court has asked the Delhi High Court to proceed independently on the petition filed by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party led Delhi government against the notification issued by the MHA over the powers of Lieutenant Governor on the affairs of Delhi’s administration.

“Let the High Court hear Delhi government verus Centre case,” the bench of Justice UU Lalit and Justice AK Sikri told while taking up the hearing.

At the same time the apex court issued notice to Delhi government seeking its reply over Central government’s appeal against the 25th May order by the Delhi High Court which had ruled that the Delhi government’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) can arrest Delhi police personnel. In that process, the Delhi High Court had partly struck down the MHA’s July 2014 notification that had empowered the LG’s complete jurisdiction over ACB.

The SC has sought the reply from Delhi government within 3 weeks.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also asked the Delhi High Court not to be influenced by any of the past observations made in the matter when they hear Delhi government’s plea challenging the MHA notification of 21st May 2015. The lawyers for Central government argued to stay the observations made by the HC single bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi terming MHA’s notification as ‘suspect’.

“The High court must not get influenced by observations made by its single judge bench on the 25th May,” said the bench while deferring the matter for detailed hearing post Delhi government’s reply.

However, the apex court clarified that at this stage there is no stay on observations by High Court which termed the May 21st Centre’s notification as “suspect”.

The Union Home Ministry had approached the top court appealing against the orders passed by the Delhi High Court in a plea filed though the office of Home Secretary LC Goyal.

Pitching their argument as the matter was mentioned before the apex court, the Centre claimed that “Everyday administration has become difficult in the national capital of Delhi after the honourable Delhi High Court order of 25th May”.

Earlier last week, the Delhi High Court while passing orders dismissing the bail application of a Delhi police head constable arrested by the Delhi government’s ACB had said, “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 Delhi High Court order had 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”.

Over the last few weeks, the turf war between the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government and Narendra Modi-led Centre has soared to an all-time high. The former had even accused that the Centre is “interfering and trying to run Delhi’s government by proxy through the office of LG”.
In between, the Delhi government passed a resolution against the MHA notification in Delhi Assembly on Wednesday. The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) commands 67 out of 70 seats on the floor of Delhi Assembly.

And now they have moved Delhi High Court as well against the MHA’s notification. The High Court is set to hear the matter on Friday.