New Delhi: Soon after the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi issued a statement saying that L-G V.K. Saxena followed the due process in electing Satya Sharma as the interim presiding officer for a meeting to elect the Mayor of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia issued a counter statement slamming the L-G on this count.

“Despite the L-G having legal discretion to select any councillor who is not contesting for the post of Mayor or Deputy Mayor, he selected from among the six names sent to him on the basis of universally accepted criteria for elimination/selection,” the statement issued by the L-G office read.

The statement came after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday accused Saxena of “blatant misuse of power” in appointing a presiding officer and an Alderman to the MCD.

Countering the L-G office statement, Sisodia said, “A press statement issued by the office of the Hon’ble Lt. Governor of Delhi stating that he has the right to directly exercise all powers under the various acts and statutes of NCT of Delhi, including the MCD Act, since he is the Administrator, reflects scant knowledge of the constitutional scheme of governance in Delhi or the principles of governance in a parliamentary democracy, a complete disregard for the mandate of the democratically elected government of Delhi (GNCTD), and a bent towards dictatorship.”

“It is an established practice that the powers under all the laws and statutes in India, either at the Centre or state governments, are exercised by the elected governments in the name of either the President of India or the Governor. The Prime Minister of India too exercises his powers under the name of the President of India, and the latter is bound by the decision of the Prime Minister. If the President suddenly starts taking independent decisions because the orders are passed under his/her name means that there is no need for Prime Minister Narendra Modi or for that matter, any democratically elected government in India at all,” Sisodia said.

He added, “Similarly, in Delhi, the powers of the various laws and statutes are exercised by the Chief Minister in the name of the Administrator/Lt. Governor, except for the three ‘reserved subjects’ explicitly listed out under Article 239AA(3) of the Constitution of India, namely the police, public order and land. For all other subjects, the L-G has only a nominal role to play in the functioning of NCT of Delhi.

“The mandate that a titular head of government must act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers ensures that the form of democratic governance (decision-making in the name of a titular head) is subservient to its substance, which mandates that the real authority to take decisions must reside in the elected arm of the government.”

Underlining some examples, Sisodia said, “Similarly, in Nabam Rebia vs Deputy Speaker, Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly (2016), the Supreme Court has made it clear that a titular head can exercise discretionary powers only when a constitutional/legal provision expressly provides that he shall act in his own discretion. In all other cases, he is required to act on the basis of aid and advice of the elected council of ministers, even when the constitutional/statutory text vests the power in the name of the titular head.”

He concluded, “The argument by the Hon’ble L-G that he will follow a plain reading of all acts and laws in Delhi, all of which require the Administrator/LG to pass orders, turns the Constitution of India on its head and makes the democratically elected government by 2 crore citizens of the national capital redundant and irrelevant. It heralds the beginning of a new era or dictatorship in the national capital.”

By Shadab

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