Turf war gets uglier
The arrest of Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar has escalated the turf war between the Delhi government and Centre. Despite the constant denials of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, it is evident that the Narendra Modi led Central government is trying to exercise its might through the Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, who reportedly signed Tomar’s arrest orders.
On Tuesday morning, the law minister from the Aam Aadmi Party was arrested by the Delhi police on charges of allegedly submitting forged law degree while filing his nomination for the assembly polls. In addition to the arrest, Tomar was held by the Delhi police for several hours at a police station before being taken to a court in Saket.
In response to the arrest, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told the media that even though the issue of the alleged fake degree is still being examined by a court, about 40 policemen swooped down on Tomar’s office and took him away as if he is a fugitive. Sisodia’s allegation of that the Lieutenant Governor has unleashed an “emergency-like” situation in the national capital has credence because of the unnecessary use of force by the Delhi police machinery, which functions under the Union Home Ministry. Even if the Delhi police have a case against Tomar, the haste with which it acted confirms the suspicion of many that the arrest was conducted to defame the Arvind Kejriwal led AAP government in the national capital. Tomar is neither a flight risk nor someone who hampered the investigation. In <g data-gr-id="30">fact</g> he has cooperated with the investigating authorities and continued to work as the city-state’s law <g data-gr-id="29">minister,</g> while the court hears the case. The Delhi police must now explain the need for his arrest pending an investigation. In <g data-gr-id="36">fact</g> the Delhi Police could have waited for the court’s decision and then acted accordingly.
The entire affair also reeks of double standards on <g data-gr-id="45">part</g> of the Centre and the investigative agencies that work under it. Last year, a lower court in Jaipur had issued <g data-gr-id="43">summons</g> to current Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Nihal Chand in a sexual assault case. Despite the severity of the charges, Chand was neither arrested in full public view nor kept in police custody. Also, while Tomar faces the full force of the law, the Union Human Resource Development Minister gets away with obfuscating her own education qualifications by submitting conflicting affidavits. However, this is not to suggest that Tomar should be let off if found guilty. The issue, though, is not about procedure or technicalities, as much as the Bharatiya Janata Party led Centre’s desire to stop the elected AAP government from performing its duties and embroiling it in one controversy after another. On Monday, Lieutenant Governor Jung appointed a Delhi Police Joint Commissioner MK Meena as the head of the Delhi government led Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), superseding SS Yadav, who was appointed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
In addition, Jung also sanctioned the transfer of seven inspectors of the Delhi police to the ACB. It must be emphasised that Jung has no business trying to appoint officers of his choice to the ACB, against the wishes of an elected Delhi government. It was only last month that the Delhi High Court dismissed the Centre’s notification that the LG was the “administrative head” of Delhi and “services” are out of the AAP government’s purview. Although the matter is currently being heard in the Supreme Court now, one must not forget that AAP was voted back into power on the back of a mandate that no party has achieved in recent times. The ruling party at the Centre, meanwhile, was summarily rejected by the people of Delhi. With such a decisive mandate behind the AAP government, the Centre must stop its constant meddling.