L-G bound by ministers' advice, says Delhi HC

L-G bound by ministers' advice, says Delhi HC

The AAP government got a shot in the arm as the Delhi High Court on Monday termed “suspect” the Centre’s notification barring the Delhi government’s anti-corruption branch (ACB) from acting against its officers in criminal offences.

Holding that the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) cannot act in his discretion, the High Court noted that the L-G is bound to act upon the aid and advice of the council of ministers who are directly elected by the citizens of Delhi and the Centre’s “executive fiat” siding with him is “suspect”. It observed that the mandate of the people “must” be respected by the L-G if there was no other “constitutional or legal fetter”.

The findings were part of a judgment in which the high court held that the ACB has the jurisdiction to arrest policemen.

The AAP government and the L-G have been involved in a public spat over the latter’s powers vis-a-vis an elected government.

The Centre, on May 21, issued a notification siding with the Lt Governor.
The High Court dismissed the bail application of a head constable arrested by the ACB in a corruption case.

“After the judgment was reserved in the present application, the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a notification... on May 21, thereby further amending the notification dated November 8, 1993 and, inter alia, providing that ‘ACB police station shall not take any cognisance of the offences against officers, employees and functionaries of the Central government’.

“In my view, since the Union lacks the executive authority to act in respect of matters dealt with in Entries 1 & 2 of List III of the Seventh Schedule, the further executive fiat issued by the Union government on May 21 is also suspect,” Justice Vipin Sanghi said. 

“The mandate of the people, with whom the sovereign power resides, must be respected by the Lieutenant Governor in respect of matters which fall within the domain of the legislative Assembly, provided there is no other constitutional or legal fetter.

“Therefore, in respect of matters dealt with by Entries 1 and 2 of the Concurrent List, the Lieutenant Governor cannot act in his discretion, and he is bound to act upon the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers,” the judge said.

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