Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung’s decision to transfer several officials in the city-state without even consulting the elected state government has reignited a feud between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Centre. Issued late on Monday, the transfer order is the first major bureaucratic reshuffle by Jung after the Delhi High Court said the Lieutenant Governor is the administrative head of the city. Adding insult to injury, on Tuesday the LG also constituted a three-member panel to examine over 400 files for “infirmities” and “irregularities” in key decisions made by the AAP government. The Delhi High Court order had raised more questions than answers.
In response, the AAP government decided to appeal against the order in the Supreme Court. The high court had dismissed AAP’s contention that the L-G must act on the advice of the Delhi Cabinet. It also ruled that the Council of Ministers must confer with the LG before taking any decisions. Among the host of proclamations, the court stated that it was not unconstitutional for the LG to exercise their powers on the appointment of bureaucrats. But an elected government must be allowed to choose its own bureaucrats. The LG is supposed to act on the advice of the elected government. Can an executive appointee, which, in this case, is the LG, transfer officials without even consulting the elected government? As per the constitutional provisions in place today, the Centre controls land located within the vicinity of the national capital, besides law and order.
Although the national capital has acquired the status of partial statehood with a state legislature, barely any executive business is conducted without the prying eyes of the Union government. The entire raison d’être of a legislature is defeated when it possess little executive powers. If the Delhi government cannot appoint its own officers, then why have a democratically elected government at all? If an elected legislature is not vested with executive powers, then elections to the Delhi Assembly seem rather pointless.