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AAP govt-LG power tussle continues over control of services department

By PTI
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    New Delhi, July 6: The Lieutenant Governor and the AAP government continued to spar over control of the services department, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal blaming the Centre for "advising" the LG not to follow the Supreme Court order and Baijal hitting back at the AAP chief and refusing to let go of the command over transfer and postings of officers.

    AAP govt-LG power tussle

    Kejriwal asserted that it was the first time in the country's history that the central government was openly refusing to obey the apex court's order, and added that the LG's refusal would only lead to "anarchy" in the country.

    The chief minister said that it is very "dangerous" that the central government is advising the Lieutenant Governor not to follow the apex court's order.

    The Centre tonight said that it would be against the law to take a final view on the matter related to services as it was still pending before the Supreme Court, after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that the Union government and the Lt Governor were refusing to obey the apex court order on it.

    In a statement, the Home Ministry also denied that it had given advice to the LG to the ignore the Supreme Court order on powers related to Delhi government. It said the suggestion that it has advised the LG to not follow the Supreme Court order was "misleading".

    Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia held a 25-minute meeting with Baijal, the first after his nine-day sit-in, and also sought an appointment with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to urge him to follow the Supreme Court verdict.

    Right after Kejriwal's press briefing, Baijal shot off a letter to the chief minister asserting that the Home Ministry's 2015 notification that 'Services' falls outside purview of the Delhi Assembly continues to be valid.

    The chief minister hit out at the Centre and the LG, alleging that it was a "conspiracy" to "paralyse" the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi.

    Meanwhile, wasting no time, Kejriwal and Sisodia went on a project clearing spree, including the contentious doorstep delivery of rations scheme, two days after a Supreme Court verdict that clipped the powers of the Lieutenant Governor.

    Talking to reporters at his official residence, Kejriwal said that Baijal had sought advice from the Ministry of Home Affairs and was told that services should not be given to the Delhi government.

    Kejriwal said he has "overruled all objections" and approved the doorstep delivery of rations. Objection to the scheme was one of the reasons for the nine-day dharna by Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues at LG office last month.

    Hours after the Supreme Court's landmark judgement earlier this week, the Delhi government introduced a new system for transfer and postings of bureaucrats, making the chief minister the approving authority.

    However, the services department refused to comply, saying the Supreme Court did not abolish the notification issued in 2015 which made the MHA the authority for transfers and postings.

    "The Supreme Court said that except three subjects, police, land and public order, Delhi government will have executive power on other subjects. LG does not agree that control of services should be handed over to Delhi government.

    "LG sought advice from that MHA which told him that services should not be given to Delhi government. It is the first time in the history of India that the central government has openly refused to obey the SC's order...," Kejriwal told reporters.

    Kejriwal said they were consulting lawyers on whether the LG's refusal to abide by the SC order will amount to contempt of court. "We are deliberating upon the issue with lawyers. We are contemplating all options and no option is closed. After the Supreme Court order, the notification of May 2015, issued by MHA, does not exist," he said.

    "They (Centre) are saying that the government has the responsibility of water, power, education but who will do this work? Officers who will be appointed by them," he said.

    According to Sisodia, it is an attempt to "derail" the government's projects. "If anyone wants to derail the government's project, he or she can do this through services department. Central government has its own services department but not Delhi government. Even the Constitution says that control of services department should be with the city government," he said.

    Baijal said that Home Ministry's 2015 notification that 'services' falls outside the purview of the Delhi Legislative Assembly "continues to be valid".

    Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta alleged the chief minister's allegation against the Centre and the LG of violation of the Supreme Court's order is like pot calling kettle black

    "He (Kejriwal) himself is guilty of defying the Court orders and is now blaming the both. In fact, he is expert in changing colours like chameleon," Gupta said in a statement.

    Meanwhile, a meeting of the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC), chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, also cleared two other projects -- final installment of the Signature Bridge and the construction of academic and hostel blocks of the Delhi Technical University.

    "Two major projects cleared - 1. Final installment for Signature Bridge. Now it would be completed by Oct'18 2. Two new academic blocks and 3 new hostels in Delhi Technical Univ(DTU). This would add approx 3000 more students to DTU," Sisodia tweeted.

    PTI

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