Another confrontation is brewing in Delhi after the Supreme Court made it clear on Wednesday that the elected government is boss, not the Lieutenant Governor, with exceptions.
Hours after the court ruling, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government put out orders taking back the power to transfer officers, but the services department has rejected it, saying that the Lt Governor remains in charge of this key department.
AAP has threatened to go to the Supreme Court, accusing the centre of contempt.
“The Supreme Court had clearly stated in its order yesterday that only land, police and public order come under the centre. This means the centre has no authority is other areas,” said a source to NDTV.
“After the SC order, the LG cannot sign on files on transfers and postings. If the LG does this, it will be against the court order and the Delhi government will go to court on grounds of contempt,” the source said.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said Chief Minister Kejriwal, not Lt Governor Anil Baijal, would be authorized to transfer officials.
But a top official said the bureaucrats have “clearly conveyed” to Mr Sisodia that the new order would not be followed as it is “legally incorrect”. Officials say the subject is still being decided by the Supreme Court, so the Kejriwal government cannot jump the gun.
AAP was told that the Supreme Court has not yet cancelled a union home ministry notification in May 2015 – months after AAP swept the elections and took power – assigning the job of transferring and posting bureaucrats to the Lieutenant governor.
This means despite the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, the Delhi government still has any role only in the movement of personnel at a lower level, like stenos.
In a series of tweets this morning, AAP said: “The LG can’t do transfers as per orders of the Supreme Court and the officers insist they will not obey (Mr Sisodia’s) orders till the home ministry notification explicitly quashed. So, will there be no transfer orders in Delhi from now till decision of Division Bench?”
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Lt Governor has no “independent decision-making power” beyond land, police and public order, and has to act on the aid and advice of the elected government, which has the real power.
Despite scoring a giant legal victory, it is back to square one for AAP.