The Supreme Court on Friday (24 November) intervened in the conflict between the Delhi government and the Delhi Lieutenant Governor regarding the appointment of a new Chief Secretary. The court directed both parties to engage in amicable discussions on the shortlist of candidates provided by the central government on Tuesday.
The intervention followed a legal move by the Delhi government, led by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), challenging the center's extension of the current Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar's tenure (who is set to retire this month) or the appointment of a new official.
The challenge was based on a contentious ordinance granting the centre control over the posting of bureaucrats, with the Delhi government arguing that such appointments should not be made without its consultation.
During the hearing, senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing the Delhi government, objected to the unilateral decision-making by the Lieutenant Governor.
In response, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the center, argued that the Union Home Ministry had historically made these appointments, even before the contested amendment in the Delhi Services Bill.
Singhvi countered, stating that the ministry would only make appointments based on the advice of the Council of Ministers, NDTV reported.
"Why don't LG (Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena) and CM (Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal) meet?" the bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud responded and then observed, "... (but) last time we said that, for the appointment of DERC (Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission) Chairperson, they never agreed..."
He then suggested that the LG and the centre should propose a panel of names, ensuring that the ultimate choice will be from this panel and the Delhi government can pick up one name from it.
Tushar Mehta agreed to this proposal and committed to returning with a shortlist. However, he expressed concerns about the treatment of officers, prompting a response from Singhvi, stating that the officers were under the Lieutenant Governor's authority.
The reference to the corruption allegations against Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar, whose son was linked to an alleged real estate scam, was also brought up during the proceedings.
The Delhi High Court had recently directed a news website to take down an article deemed defamatory to Kumar. In response, Kumar sought further relief, including a direction to restrain the news portal and the reporter from publishing any additional defamatory articles against him.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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