Hours after SC-order, Delhi officers send back government's "incorrect" file
Hours after the SC verdict curtailing the lieutenant governor's (L-G) powers in Delhi, the AAP government moved its first file, ordering withdrawal of authority on transfer and posting of bureaucrats from the L-G, chief secretary and heads of departments. But in a hint that tussles with the bureaucracy are far from over, officers sent back the "legally incorrect" order to Deputy CM Manish Sisodia.
The tussle between AAP government and L-Gs
The AAP government, which came to power in 2015, ran into intense tussles with then L-G Najeeb Jung. Jung refused to send files to CM Arvind Kejriwal, and annulled all bureaucratic postings by the Delhi government. Things didn't change when Anil Baijal took over: Kejriwal blamed him for officers going on 'strikes' in gaps. AAP accused both of working on behalf of the Center.
Officers had their own reasons for maintaining a gap
A bone of contention was alleged lack of cooperation by officers. AAP accused the L-Gs of masterminding strikes and interfering with the government's decisions. Things turned worse after the alleged assault of Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash by AAP lawmakers in February, something the AAP denies ever happened. Recently, Kejriwal and three ministers camped at Baijal's office for nine days, demanding a solution.
SC intervenes, says L-G can't interfere in state government's policy-decisions
After months of a power struggle, the SC ruled yesterday that the L-G cannot interfere in policy decisions taken by the state government. It concluded Delhi cannot be given full statehood, but the government can make rules on subjects in state and concurrent lists, excluding law, police and public order. The AAP government approached the SC after the Delhi HC made a pro-LG judgment.
Sisodia sends file on powers of deciding officers' posting
Later yesterday, Sisodia sent a file saying the CM, deputy CM and the minister in charge of services (Sisodia himself) will now approve transfers of officers earlier being handled by the L-G, chief secretary and principal secretary respectively. But an officer claimed it was untenable. "Services had come under the L-G after a home ministry notification, (which) hasn't been set aside by the SC."
The SC will now hear individual cases separately
Meanwhile, the SC is yet to decide on eight individual cases related to the power tussle, including the aforementioned notification, and other decisions by Delhi and the Center. Officials also pointed out yesterday's judgment wasn't completely in Kejriwal's favor. "Only principles for the L-G and government were stated. The only relief AAP got is now it won't need the L-G's concurrence on every file."
Meanwhile, Kejriwal has been demanding full statehood
To solidify his powers, Kejriwal has also demanded full statehood, recently passing a resolution on it. Incidentally, this issue has been raised by many political parties in the past, including BJP and Congress. However, some believe it may be unfavorable. For running new institutions, the Delhi government would need additional financial-resources, and if deprived of Central funds, the result will be increased taxes for citizens.