‘Problematic and flawed’, but ‘AAP both villain and victim’: Editorials on Centre’s Delhi ordinance

The ordinance effectively reverses a Supreme Court judgement on the Delhi government’s powers over administrative services.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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On Friday, the union government introduced an ordinance giving more power to the Lieutenant-Governor in the administration of Delhi. The LG will now have final say in posting and transfers of bureaucrats.

The ordinance is effectively a reversal of the Supreme Court’s verdict just a day before, which ruled that the Delhi government has legislative and executive powers over the capital’s administrative services.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal called the ordinance “undemocratic” and an “insult”, and vowed to challenge it in the courts. In this morning’s newspapers, several editorials slammed the ordinance, but criticised the AAP too.

The Hindu said the centre is “well within its powers to overturn a judicial pronouncement” but the “more pertinent issue is the political intent”. Under the BJP, the centre is “confrontational, rather than cooperative” towards states, and “has shown little regard for elected governments at lower levels, while claiming for itself all powers on the grounds of its electoral majority”.

The editorial was also cutting towards the AAP government in Delhi: “The AAP government had resorted to provincialist rhetoric in the past, also going to the extent of questioning the rights of people from other states to access health care and education in the national capital...Democracy and federalism are threatened by an unprincipled hunger for power, and AAP is both villain and victim.”

The Indian Express said the ordinance “upends democratic accountability” and “smudges and blurs the line of accountability that runs between the people and their representatives in Delhi”. 

“...SC must ensure that the eloquent and essential defence of democratic federalism by its Constitution bench is not hijacked,” the editorial said. “The Delhi case is a talismanic test of checks and balances in the face of an overweening Centre, Executive and Legislature.”

The Times of India struck an equally warning note, describing the ordinance as “problematic” and “flawed in its staunch refusal to recognise the powers of an elected government”. While there are “many arguments” to justify the ordinance, TOI pointed out that the Supreme Court judgement put forward “entirely logical” arguments that have now been overturned.

“One of our columnists today makes a case for a ‘Two Delhi’ solution,” the editorial said, referring to this opinion piece by Arghya Sengupta. “Time has come to consider that or something akin to that. Delhi’s people don’t deserve this never-ending squabble.”

Newslaundry had previously reported on the tension between the AAP government and Delhi LG Vinai Kumar Saxena. Curiously, when Saxena was chairman of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission, he hired his own daughter to design an exclusive khadi lounge in Mumbai – paid for by a Rs 80 crore grant. Read all about it here.

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