Delhi Lieutenant Governor Counters Kejriwal-Led Establishment's Monopoly Claim In Supreme Court

In an affidavit filed, the lieutenant governor's office deemed the assertion as "fundamentally flawed," asserting that the democratically-elected central government remains attentive to the needs of Delhi's residents.

Delhi LG VK Saxena.(File photo)

The lieutenant governor of Delhi mounted a robust defense in the Supreme Court against the Arvind Kejriwal-led political establishment's claim of monopolizing the concerns of the city's citizens. In an affidavit submitted to the apex court, the lieutenant governor's office deemed it "fundamentally flawed" to assert that only they champion the issues of Delhi's residents, countering that the democratically-elected central government, acting upon the President's aid and advice, remains attentive to the capital's needs.

The affidavit was filed in response to the city government's plea regarding the appointment row concerning the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) chairperson. Amidst the legal battle, a bench led by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud announced its intention to examine the constitutional validity of a provision in the recent ordinance governing appointments, including that of the DERC chairperson. Meanwhile, the oath-taking of Justice (retired) Umesh Kumar as the chief of the city's electricity regulatory authority has been deferred, according to PTI.

The appointment of Justice Kumar as the DERC chairperson has become another flashpoint in the ongoing turf war between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre. During the court hearing, the Supreme Court urged Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena to rise above "political bickering" and discuss the names of former judges who could potentially lead the DERC.

The affidavit filed by the lieutenant governor's office emphasized that the appointment of Justice Kumar as the DERC chairman complied with the law and exhibited no flaws. It criticized the Delhi government's writ petition as "completely misconceived and liable to be dismissed," adding that the President appointed Justice Kumar based on the recommendation or concurrence of the Allahabad High Court.

The affidavit argued that the Delhi government's contention, based on the financial association of the bodies mentioned in section 45D with the Legislative Assembly's budget and their work in the interest of Delhi's people, cannot prevent control from being transferred to the Union of India. It further highlighted the principles of cooperative federalism and the fact that Delhi, despite Article 239AA, remains a Union Territory where the participation of the central government aligns with the principles of governance.

In January, the LG office stated that a proposal for the appointment of Justice Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava, a retired judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, as the DERC chairperson, as approved by the Delhi chief minister, was placed before the LG. However, Justice Shrivastava communicated his inability to take up the post due to family commitments and requirements.

The affidavit noted that the petition did not allege any violation of fundamental rights under Part III and failed to provide cogent grounds for seeking a judicial review of the impugned ordinance or invoking Article 32 of the Constitution of India.

Highlighting the conduct of the petitioner, the affidavit criticized the treatment of a senior retired judge, a judicial and constitutional functionary, with utmost disrespect, deeming it mala fide. It emphasized the parliamentary competence and plenary jurisdiction over the National Capital Territory of Delhi, stating that the President's power to promulgate an ordinance under Article 123 of the Constitution, based on the objects and reasons enunciated, is unquestionable. Consequently, questioning the ordinance on alleged grounds of arbitrariness was deemed impermissible.

The Supreme Court has scheduled further consideration of the issue for Thursday, continuing the examination of the conflicting arguments presented by the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor's office.