AAP shrugs off suggestions of apathy towards civic bodies
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government also informed Delhi High Court that it has initiated the process of constituting the 5th Finance Commission by sending a proposal to its Urban Development Department and the entire procedure would be completed within four months.
The submission was made in an affidavit placed before a Bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath which had on 29 June pulled up the AAP government for delaying the constitution of the 5th Finance Commission and for “sleeping over” implementation of recommendations of the 4th such panel.
Regarding implementation of the recommendations of the 4th finance commission, the city government said while Rs 855.31 crore has been given to the three MCDs till June, its Urban Development Department has taken the views of all stakeholders and will take further steps after receiving appropriate orders from the competent authority.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by an NGO, Campaign for People Participation in Development Planning, for directions to Delhi government led by Arvind Kejriwal and Lt Governor Najeeb Jung to “immediately release adequate funds” to the municipalities to enable them perform their functions.
The NGO, represented by advocate Anil K Aggarwal, today moved an application for removing Delhi government as a party from the matter, saying as per the Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991, in all matters concerning the national capital, only the Centre can sue or be sued against.
The application said that “as necessary implication” of the Act, Delhi government “cannot be sued against and cannot sue or represent on its own through counsel appointed by it in any court proceedings”.
The NGO has also moved an application to restrain the LG from “utilising” the consolidated fund of the national capital till the share of the municipalities is disbursed from it.
The court has sought <g data-gr-id="31">response</g> of the city government on the two applications and listed the matter for further hearing on August 6.
In its affidavit, the city government told the court that it is considering increasing the revenue of the municipalities and requisite funds would be released to them from time to time as per the budget estimates.
It also denied allegations of the NGO that the city government was trying to usurp powers and functions of the municipal bodies. It also rejected the charge that no action was taken on the report and recommendations of the 3rd Finance Commission.
“It is denied that the answering respondents (Delhi government and LG) in connivance with each other, did not properly credit the public money, fund or revenue collected or received in the consolidated fund of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi and misused and misapplied the public fund/money/revenue, both deposited and not deposited in the consolidated fund, without proper and valid sanction...,” it said in the affidavit.
The NGO in its plea has sought “equitable” distribution of funds between the state government and municipal corporations of Delhi to ensure financial independence and proper functioning of civic bodies. It has also said the court should “restrain” Delhi government and Lieutenant Governor from “interfering with the constitutional functions and duties of the Finance Commission of Delhi and the municipalities”.