The tussle between the elected government and the governor appointed by the Centre is not a new phenomenon as history is full of such incidents when disputes over the division of authority between them took an ugly turn.
However, the capital city Delhi suffers from serious constitutional uncertainty as it doesn't have have full statehood. The question about governing the city has remained �much discussed' since the day the S Balakrishnan Committee gave special status to Delhi which takes it somewhere above the other Union Territories but keeps it somewhere below the States.
Despite being the national capital of India and home to most of the VIPs, the dispute over separation of powers in Delhi continues. However, in the last few months the tussle between the Aam Aadmi Party led Delhi government and Lt Governor VK Saxena has taken a nasty turn.
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Addressing the Delhi Assembly, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said: "Who is he (the L-G)? People elected us, not him. This is a democracy. When I read out SC orders to him, he told me, �He was appointed by the President.' I replied: �Just like the Viceroys were appointed during the British rule. Such a harsh statement from the Chief Minister was not a spontaneous overflow but a reaction to the protest by the party on the previous day against Saxena for allegedly stalling a file pertaining to sending teachers to Finland.
The tussle between the Delhi government and the Lt Governor is not new but the intensity of the dispute between the two Constitutional heads is being witnessed for the first time. Recalling the days of former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in Delhi and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the Centre when work on the Delhi Metro was in the initial stages, several union ministries were not approving the files pertaining to the Delhi Metro for speedy implementation of the scheme. Once Dikshit met Vajpayee with all these issues, Vajpayee made a committee of ministers look into the files of the DMRC and give approval in a timely manner. It was the work culture of that era which is being missed now.
The AAP leaders have alleged many times that Saxena is working as a BJP leader from Raj Niwas. The party has alleged on several occasions that the Lt Governor is stalling the plans of the Delhi government by putting pressure on the subordinate officers. Former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia alleged many times that officers are not attending his meetings due to instructions from the LG's office.
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In the last few months, the LG has been accused of stopping Yogshala classes, Mohalla clinic medicines, doctors' salary, Kejriwal's proposed visit to Singapore, foreign training of teachers and many other schemes. However, Saxena has now approved the proposal of teachers being sent abroad with certain conditions.
However, the dispute between them turned acrimonious after Saxena set up an inquiry into the Delhi government's excise policy, free electricity and reconstruction of schools. Meanwhile, on January 12, the AAP was fined Rs 163 crore for publishing political advertisements in the guise of government advertisements through the Directorate of Information and Publicity.
The new fronts of confrontation kept opening one after the other. The Lt Governor locked the office of the Delhi Dialogue and Development Commission Vice Chairman Jasmine Shah. He also removed the AAP's Rajya Sabha MPs ND Gupta, Jasmine Shah, Umesh Tyagi and JS Deswal, nominated by the Delhi government, from the boards of BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna Power Limited.
The latest dispute arose over the election of the MCD Mayor and the voting rights of the Aldermen. The court had to intervene to hold the mayoral polls. The standing committee members' election is still pending as the matter is sub judice.
The Lt Governor says that he is the local guardian of the city. With 28 states and 8 Union Territories in the country, the Constitution clearly underlines that Union Territories will be run by the President through an Administrator appointed by him/her. The Administrators of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Delhi and Puducherry are designated as Lieutenant Governors. Out of eight UTs, only two - Delhi and Puducherry - have a legislative assembly and council of ministers.
The �conflict of governance' between the Delhi government and the Lt Governor arises from the point that Delhi got a legislative assembly through the S Balakrishnan Committee. The committee was constituted in 1987 to look into the issue of the Reorganisation of Delhi. The report of the committee said that Delhi belongs to the nation as a whole, but it is also inhabited by its own people. The report rejected the popular demand of giving statehood to Delhi because doing so will give Delhi a disproportionate presence in comparison to the other states.
Four key subjects -- public order, police, service and land -- are with the Central government while the other sectors are with the city government. The Assembly has the power to make laws with respect to all the matters in the State List or in the Concurrent List of the Constitution of India except Entries 1 (Public Order), 2 (Police), and 18 (Land), and entries 64, 65 and 66 relatable to the said entries of the State List. However, the Delhi government will have to get the LG's nod for making any minor or major changes.
"There cannot be two parallel and concurrent governments altogether in any state. Delhi also has only one government and that is the Central government. Even Parliament has passed an act that says that the Government means the Lt Governor of Delhi. The elected leaders are the representatives of the people and are advisors to the LG who can assist in the governance, but cannot govern", said SK Sharma, former secretary of the Lok Sabha and the Delhi Assembly.
The elected set up is Bhagidar (partner) and not Hukamaran (ruler), they fail to understand the Constitutional scheme, said Sharma.
"Every Bill passed by the Delhi Assembly defines "Govt" to mean that "Govt means LG appointed by the President under Article 239A of the Constitution." They have invented for themselves a phrase called "Chuni Hui Sarkar" which is alien to the Constitution", Sharma added.