New Delhi: Delhi Lt Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena and the Director of Planning told Delhi High Court on Wednesday that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Jasmine Shah’s plea challenging the decision to restrict him from “discharging his duties” as the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi (DDCD) Vice Chairman is “premature”.
Arguing before a bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain said that the court ought to await the decision on the reference made by the LG to the President regarding the issue of his removal before deciding the matter.
He submitted that the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court has reserved the judgement on the issue relating to the manner in which the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers is to be sought by the LG “in respect of services”.
The outcome of the top court’s judgement ought to be awaited before as it will have a bearing on Shah’s plea, he added.
Appearing for Shah, senior advocate Dayan Krishnan argued that the matter does not fall within the meaning of services as considered by the constitutional bench and thus, there is no need for the court to await the judgement of the constitutional bench.
Jain pressed that the court ought not prejudge the issue and must await for the President’s order as Shah placed reliance on the Transaction of Business GNCTD Rules.
Referring to the apex court’s judgement in a State NCT v. Union of India case, he contended that the decision clearly states that it is only when the LG does not make the reference, a decision has to be implemented by the government.
The judge scheduled the next hearing for May 24.
Saxena, on November 18, 2022, had asked Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to restrict Shah from “discharging his duties” as the DDCD Vice Chairman and from using any privilege and facilities associated with the office.
Justice Singh had said that it will examine the LG’s response, before deciding whether he could have passed an order like that.
On February 9, senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, appearing for Shah, had said that the entire power lies with the Legislative Assembly and power of appointment and removal is only with the Chief Minister.
Referring to the Transaction of Business (Amendment) Rules, Nayar had said: “The course of action of the rules should be followed by the LG with reference to Chief Minister or its counsel.”
The High Court, on December 13, held that in the absence of consensus between Chief Minister Kejriwal and the LG Saxena on removal of Shah, the matter has been referred to the President.
The court was also informed that in the exercise of powers under Article 239AA, the LG has ordered that Shah will not be allowed into the DDCD office till the President takes a call on the issue.
The LG in response had said that until the President returns a decision on the matter, it would be prudent for the parties to take no further action.
The judge had said she cannot deal with the issues without having affidavits on record and asked the respondents to file affidavits before the next date of the hearing. It had also sought responses from the Director of Planning and the local sub-divisional magistrate. Shah’s office was sealed late on November 17, by the SDM, Civil Lines. ASG Jain, appearing for the LG, had told the court that there are “larger issues” involved in the case.
The LG had also asked the CM to sack Shah for allegedly “misusing his office for political purposes”. Shah had said the L-G’s action is “without jurisdiction, completely illegal, and unconstitutional”. The AAP politician then moved the High Court to challenge the LG’s action.