SC seeks Centre's reply on AAP plea against Prez rule in Delhi

SC seeks Centre's reply on AAP plea against Prez rule in Delhi

The Supreme Court today sought response from the Centre on a petition filed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) challenging imposition of President's rule in Delhi.

A bench comprising justices R M Lodha and Dipak Misra issued notice to the Centre asking it to respond within 10 days on the issue raised by the AAP.

The bench, which posted the matter for hearing on March 7, refrained from issuing notice to BJP and Congress which were made party in the petition, saying it only wants to deal with the constitutional issue and does not want to have a political contest.

"It is a constitutional issue so whoever has passed the order has to answer," the bench said and added, "We don't want it to be a political contest".

When it was stated that allegations have been made against the two parties, the bench said it will see when it will come.

Senior advocate Fali S Nariman appeared for the AAP and explained the facts which led to the filing of the petition.

Earlier, on February 21, the apex court had agreed to hear today the petition seeking a direction to the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve Delhi Assembly and hold fresh polls along with Lok Sabha elections.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who had appeared for AAP, had said there was no possibility of any alternate government in Delhi and the Lieutenant Governor should have dissolved the Assembly.

The joint petition filed on the basis of newspaper reports and documents available in public domain by AAP and Saurabh Bhardwaj, who was the Transport Minister in Kejriwal Cabinet, challenged the decision to impose President's rule in Delhi on the recommendation of the Lieutenant Governor alleging it was done to protect Congress leaders and former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit from corruption charges.

It contended that the February 16 order imposing President's rule was with a motive to frustrate the ongoing investigation in those corruption cases in which FIR has been lodged by the Arvind Kejriwal government. 

The petition has said, "Apparently, the motive behind not dissolving the Delhi Legislative Assembly and holding fresh election is to allow a political party, which had badly lost the Delhi Legislative Assembly Election, and of which several important leaders including ministers in central government and the former Chief Minster are facing serious corruption charges.

"....to govern the NCT of Delhi indirectly through the central government as the same party is presently in power in the Centre and also to frustrate the ongoing investigations in those corruption charges under the FIRs which were recently lodged by the Delhi Government.

"Thus, the aforesaid decision is not only arbitrary and illegal and in violation of the democratic rights of the citizens of Delhi but also malafide."

The petition has said the order to impose President's rule was "illegal, arbitrary and in violation" of Article 14 of the Constitution as after the resignation of the Kejriwal government neither BJP nor Congress were in a position to form the government and they had already expressed unwillingness in this regard.

It has further raised constitutional questions to keep the assembly under suspended animation by ignoring categorical recommendation of the majority government of the NCT of Delhi for dissolving the House.

The petition has said that imposition of the President's rule has denied the citizens of Delhi their democratic right to have an elected popular government.

"In the present case, it was incumbent on the President, after assuming to himself all the powers of the Lt. Governor to himself, of course with aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, to exercise the power to dissolve the Assembly especially since there was no possibility whatever of the formation of any other government since other main political parties (viz. BJP and Congress) have already expressed their unwillingness and inability to form a government," it has said.

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