AAP, LG office trade barbs after unruly House session | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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AAP, LG office trade barbs after unruly House session

By, New Delhi
Jan 08, 2023 12:48 AM IST

Kejriwal wrote a letter to Saxena, his second in two days, saying that elected governments will become irrelevant if the LG is defined as the “administrator” arbitrarily.

A day after Aam Aadmi Party and Bharatiya Janata Party councillors exchanged blows inside the chambers of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena’s office on Saturday continued to spar over the appointment of 10 nominated members and a presiding officer, even as the BJP and AAP launched street protests over the row.

The first meeting of the newly constituted MCD descended into an ugly brawl on Friday as councillors fought pitched battles on the floor of the House, exchanging blows. (Paras)
The first meeting of the newly constituted MCD descended into an ugly brawl on Friday as councillors fought pitched battles on the floor of the House, exchanging blows. (Paras)

Kejriwal wrote a letter to Saxena, his second in two days, saying that elected governments will become irrelevant if the LG is defined as the “administrator” arbitrarily. He said such an interpretation will make all chief ministers and the Prime Minister of India irrelevant.

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Officials from the LG’s office said that the appointments were according to constitutional provisions and the AAP was creating confusion with deliberate attempts to mislead people. The AAP and BJP also took to the streets on Saturday, with Kejriwal’s supporters protesting near the LG House in Civil Lines and BJP leaders carrying out a sit-in protest near Rajghat. The two parties blamed each other for “disrespecting the constitutional provisions” and “murdering democratic norms”.

The first meeting of the newly constituted MCD descended into an ugly brawl on Friday as councillors fought pitched battles on the floor of the House, exchanging blows. The pandemonium began as soon as the House convened and the presiding officer, BJP’s Satya Sharma, nominated by the lieutenant governor, took oath. Sharma called the aldermen to the dais for the swearing in, prompting immediate objections from the AAP, which said that it broke from the MCD’s tradition where elected members are sworn in first.

On Saturday, the Delhi CM wrote to Saxena, seeking a clarification and his stand on the role of the LG as an “administrator” in Delhi’s governance and the municipal body. “I have come across a statement issued by your office today that it is written in the DMC act that “administrator shall appoint ... (aldermen), therefore, the ten aldermen and presiding officer for election of mayor were directly appointed by your good-self without involvement of the elected government,” the letter said.

“Can we assume that this is your official position and wherever government has been defined as LG/administrator, the LG shall exercise powers in his own discretion? If this is the case, then the elected government of Delhi will become irrelevant,” Kejriwal said.

Kejriwal argued that as per various judgments of the Supreme Court, the LG is bound by the aid and advice of council of ministers of the elected government on all but three reserved subjects. “MCD Act is a transferred subject and even if the words used in the act are administrator, LG is bound by the advice of the council of ministers. For the last 30 years, powers under this Act were always exercised by council of ministers,” he wrote in the letter, a copy of which was posted on the CM’s official Twitter account.

He added that Saxena’s interpretation of the norms will lead to a situation in which the LG will run the Delhi government directly, bypassing the elected government on all transferred subjects. “If this position is taken, then the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers will become irrelevant because in all laws and Constitution, the words used are president/governor and not prime minister/chief minister,” he said.

His deputy Manish Sisodia said that the LG’s stand reflected an inclination towards dictatorship. “As per powers divided in Delhi under article 239AA(3) of the Constitution, the LG has no jurisdiction beyond police, public order and land. The LG’s statement shows scant knowledge of Constitution. All state and central governments exercise their powers in the name of the Governor/President,” he said.

A Raj Niwas official said that the LG scrupulously adhered to the constitutional provisions while nominating the interim presiding officer for the newly elected MCD as well as the aldermen. “Facts on file belie the claims made by CM Kejriwal and underline that in his quest to manage a positive perception for himself and his party, he is misleading people. He should start respecting the Constitution and refrain from deliberately misleading the people of Delhi and the country,” the official said, asking not to be named.

“Sharma was selected as the presiding officer by the process of elimination from a list of six names sent to the LG by the AAP government. Section 77(a) of the MCD Act, dealing with appointment of Presiding Officer states that the administrator shall nominate a councillor who is not a candidate for mayor election to preside over the meeting and Section 2(1) of the act says ‘Administrator’, means the Lt Governor,” the official added.

A second official said that it was not that the LG nominated Sharma out of thin air. “Sharma’s name along with the names of five other councillors was sent by the MCD and AAP government for consideration. The other five names were Mukesh Goel, Preeti, Shakeela Begum, Hemchand Goel and Neema Bhagat. Despite the LG having unbound legal discretion to select any councillor, he selected from among the six names sent to him through the CM on the basis of universally accepted criteria for selection,” the official said.

The two officials said that Goel, who had been recommended by the CM/deputy CM, was eliminated because he was under investigation on charges of seeking bribe from an MCD engineer. “Preeti was eliminated because of criminal cases pending against her. Shakeela Begum and Hemchand Goel were eliminated on the criteria of educational qualification. Sharma was finally selected because of her experience of serving as a mayor which was best suited to conduct the proceedings of the maiden session,” the first official said, adding that according to the rules, 10 people are to be nominated by the “administrator”.

“This is the factual, legal and constitutional provision and any attempts to create confusion regarding it by the AAP is nothing but its characteristic politics of deceit, blatant lies and deliberate attempts at misleading,” the official added.

During their protests, AAP MLAs sought a written assurance from the LG that the nominated members will not be allowed to vote in the mayoral election. An AAP councillor, Praveen Kumar, who was injured on Friday, filed a police complaint in Kamal Nagar, while BJP leaders sought an inquiry into Friday’s violence, seeking suspension of AAP MLAs from the next House meetings.

There is no clarity over the date of the next House session. An official from the municipal secretariat said that an official communication will be sent to the LG’s office, detailing the situation and conditions that have arisen due to violence on Friday and a new date for holding the session will be sought. The presiding officer said that she spoke with the LG and informed him about the proceedings on Friday.

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