AAP vs LG: Delhi has power to post, transfer bureaucrats, SC told

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New Delhi : The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the issue of transfers and postings in the city administration should be kept with it.

A bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan was told by senior Congress leaders and advocates Kapil Sibal and P. Chidambaram, appearing for the Delhi government, that barring three issues of public order, police and land, the Delhi government had the power to legislate and govern on other issues.

Other than public order, police and land, the Centre had no role over Delhi, Sibal contended.

"Lt Governor is the executive head of Delhi. Executive power in respect to Delhi is confined to three service only," he added.

Sibal argued that Delhi had a legislative Assembly and executive power of the Centre "cannot infringe" the power of legislative.

He further said that Lt Governor cannot use his discretion in each and every matter.

Chidambaram contended that legislative power lies with the Delhi government and the Lt Governor cannot control transfer and posting of bureaucrats.

"We are not concerned with IAS and IPS officers. But officer belong to DANICS and DANIPS, when posted in Delhi, they are under the rule of Delhi. The officers are transferred here (Delhi), but once they work here they are under Delhi's control," Chidambaram argued.

The Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Civil) Services (DANICS) and Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Police) Services (DANIPS) provide officers to administer the civil and police administration respectively of the Union Territories (UT) segments. DANICS and DANIPS officers are liable to be transferred from one UT to another.

Earlier, the Delhi government had told the top court that the government was paralysed because it could not transfer or post bureaucrats.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's government had been at loggerheads with Lt Governor Anil Baijal accusing him of preventing the functioning of his government at the behest of the Centre.

The court was hearing appeals filed by the Delhi government on the scope of its powers in view of the recent verdict by a Constitution bench.

The three-judge Constitution Bench of chief justice Misra and justice A.M. Khanwilkar and justice D.Y. Chandrachud on July 4 ruled that the Lt Governor was bound to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.

After the Supreme Court ruling, the Arvind Kejriwal government had sent Baijal files recommending transfer and posting of officials. But the Lt Governor stonewalled it, saying the issue involving "Services" was yet to be decided.

Baijal said the Union Home Ministry had advised him to keep exercising powers over "Services" because the May 21, 2015 notification remained valid until a regular bench of the apex court decided on it.