NEW DELHI: Intensifying the tussle with the ruling AAP, Lt Governor Anil Baijal on Thursday asserted that he is working within the ambit of Constitutional provisions and Supreme Court order, rebutting Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s charge of him encroaching upon the jurisdiction of the elected government in Delhi.
Baijal wrote to Manish Sisodia rejecting as “baseless, lacking facts and evidence” the latter’s charges of him holding meetings with bureaucrats and instructing them about works that fall under the purview of the elected government in Delhi.
Sisodia had last Saturday shot a letter to Baijal objecting to the L-G holding meetings with officers without ministers’ information concerned and instructing them on works that “fall under the purview of the elected government”, saying it was “unconstitutional” and against the verdict of the Supreme Court.
The deputy chief minister, whose AAP government is mired in a long-running power tussle with the Centre-appointed LG, urged Baijal to desist from such actions.
Baijal, in his letter, claimed that the meetings called by him in past months completely fell under the jurisdiction of Constitutional provisions and responsibilities of the lieutenant governor.
The L-G listed all the meetings held by him in the past three months, including those related to Covid management, ration distribution, water supply, women safety and other such subjects involving “coordination” between the agencies of the Centre and Delhi government.
He emphasised that the office of LG accorded the highest respect to Constitutional and democratic principles and was committed to the implementation of the Supreme Court’s order related to the constitutionally provided division of work in Delhi.
“At the outset, I would like to strongly refute the insinuations and statements made in the letter against this office which are baseless, devoid of any merit and without any evidence,” Baijal wrote to Sisodia.
Last week, the Delhi cabinet rejected Lt Governor’s recommendation for considering a proposal of the city police to appoint special public prosecutors in cases related to farm law protest on Republic Day and riots in northeast Delhi in February this year.
“For the sake of abundant clarity, I would like to inform you that meetings that have been called by the undersigned (LG) in the past months have been strictly within the ambit of constitutional provisions and responsibilities entrusted to this office,” Baijal claimed in the letter.
Sisodia, in his letter to Baijal, had claimed him holding meetings with officials without the knowledge of ministers concerned and decisions taken therein were unconstitutional and violation of the Supreme Court order in July 2018.
Baijal claimed the meetings held by him were aimed at facilitating and coordinating effective planning, preparedness and implementation of specific programmes and tasks in the larger public interest given the multiplicity of agencies in Delhi.
“It is important to mention here that all the meetings were convened through video conference on the open platform of NIC and not within the confines of the Raj Niwas.
“The meetings were convened only to monitor the implementation aspects of programmes and schemes where no policy decisions were required to be taken.
If policy issues were involved then the minister concerned would have been invited also,” Baijal wrote to Sisodia.
The L-G also raised objection over Sisodia’s letter being put in the public domain before any discussion with him on the matter.
“Whatever might have been the reason, I expected that this communication should not have been made public in view of the sensitivity of the issue relating to the role and responsibilities of constitutional functionaries, rather you could have discussed this matter with me and I could have cleared your doubts through one to one discussion.
” Detailing various meetings held by him including those of Delhi Disaster Management Authority on COVID management, Baijal asked, “Was it a violation of constitutional and democratic principles to convene meetings on issues pertaining to the management of COVID in the larger public interest?” He asserted that as a nominee of President of India it was his duty to ensure that the laws made by Parliament are executed in true spirit including delivery of services provided for the welfare of the general public.
Citing the apex court judgement, Baijal said “As held by Supreme Court in its judgment quoted by you, the executive action of the government must conform to the laws made by Parliament.
“The judgement of the Supreme Court has also desired that the Lt Governor should act as a facilitator.
” Governance cannot be divided into water-tight compartments as the subject matters are interlinked with each other.
The decision in one subject affects the other, he said.
“In the same spirit, a meeting on women safety was convened by my office in which Delhi Police, Chairperson Delhi Commission for Women and officials of Departments of GNCTD including Home, PWD, Revenue Department etc participated.
“Was it wrong to call these meetings to guide and facilitate coordination between Delhi Police and Departments of the state government to ensure women safety in Delhi?” he questioned Sisodia.
Baijal said the meetings have been called by him to discharge constitutional and statutory obligations on matters of public importance where facilitation and inter-departmental coordination is required with local bodies or central agencies, relating to reserved matters of police, public order and land.
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