SC frowns upon delay in Delhi government formation

SC frowns upon delay in Delhi government formation

The Supreme Court Tuesday expressed its displeasure at the central government's tactics on delaying  formation of a government in Delhi, even as it was told that the President has given consent to invite the BJP for the purpose.

"Just before every date of the hearing, some statement is made about the attempt being made for the formation of a government but why things are not being done well before the date of the hearing?" asked the Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu.

The court's reaction came as it was handed over a letter which said the President has consented to Lt. Governor's Najeeb Jung's suggestion to explore the option of forming the government by inviting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the single largest party in the Delhi assembly.

"Suppose Lt. Governor is going to invite the largest party (BJP). Are they in a position to form the government?" the court enquired, apparently making a reference to the number of legislators the BJP has in the Delhi assembly.

The central government sought to wriggle out of the situation, saying that after putting the Delhi assembly under suspended animation, it had a year's time to explore the possibilities and the court could not issue any direction restricting the time available to the President in taking the decision.

But the court shot this down.

"Our understanding was to give time to the Lt. Governor to decide. If you had told us that we (the government) cannot take a decision, we may have heard the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) petition and decided the matter either way," the court said.

"With greatest respect at our command we feel the government should have taken the decision earlier. All of us know that the matter is pending before the court and time has been given to decide," said the court, as it began hearing on AAP petition seeking the dissolution of the state assembly.

Reacting to the apex court's rap to the central government, the Congress and the AAP demanded fresh elections in Delhi.

Talking to reporters here, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal said: "If there is an iota of shame left in the BJP, they will dissolve the assembly and hold fresh elections in Delhi."

"If elections are held, BJP will be badly defeated and AAP will win," he claimed.
Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Sheila Dikshit said that "democratic process will be subverted if a party is asked to make a government without having a majority".

Though the Bharatiya Janata Party's senior leader Venkaiah Naidu said that the party "was ready for fresh polls and would not engineer defections to form the government", its Delhi unit chief Satish Upadhyay parried question over the issue.

"We will take a decision at an appropriate time once LG invites us to form the government," he told reporters.

Delhi has been under President's Rule since Feb 17 after the minority AAP government quit over the stalling of anti-graft bill in the assembly. The AAP had filed a petition in the Supreme Court, demanding dissolution of the assembly.

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