Decide on Delhi assembly's fate, SC tells Centre
The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the central government to take a decision on the fate of the Delhi assembly which was placed under suspended animation after the AAP government resigned Feb 14.
Seeking a decision within a reasonable time, a constitution bench of Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Arun Mishra adjourned hearing on the Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) petition seeking dissolution of the assembly as was recommended by the Arvind Kejriwal government when it exited on the Jan Lokpal Bill issue.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) welcomed the Supreme Court's call.
Asserting that the people of the city deserved an elected government as soon as possible, BJP Delhi unit chief Satish Upadhyay said: "We welcome the court's suggestion to the central government that it should explore all possibilities of government formation in Delhi within five weeks."
"We agree with the court's view that development work and governance have come to a standstill in Delhi... it is an injustice to the people of Delhi. The view of the court is not different from the stand taken by the BJP."
The AAP asked the BJP-led central government to direct Delhi's Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung to dissolve the assembly and hold fresh elections.
"We welcome the Supreme Court's decision. The BJP must show some respect to democracy and ask the Lt. Governor to dissolve the assembly," AAP leader Manish Sisodia said.
Adjourning the matter, the apex court said that "time and again we have adjourned the matter to see if any party was willing to form the government. What endeavours are being made, we want to know".
Asking the government to take a decision either way (to dissolve the house or not), the court asked what would it say if a citizen came to the court and said he wanted to be served by an elected representative - who is not doing anything and yet getting paid, and that all because of the government.
"If a, b, c, d comes before us and says that you are paying tax payers' money to the elected representative and he is not doing anything. I want elected representative to serve me. You are not allowing him to serve," Justice Dattu told Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narsimhan, who resisted the plea that the government be asked to dissolve the assembly paving way for fresh elections.
Initially, the court wanted to give the government four weeks' time to take the call, but decided to substitute it with "within reasonable time" after Narsimhan pleaded not to make it within four weeks.
However, in order to indicate the time limit, the court said the next hearing would be Sep 9.
The court asked what was the central government doing after Narsimhan said everything was under the consideration and the government was making endeavours.
"What do you mean by consideration? What do you mean by endeavour? What endeavour you are making?" Justice Dattu asked, and said "four-five months down the line no one is ready to form the government. No one has come forward to form the government".
"Now we are seeing the AAP's petition as a PIL. Citizens of Delhi say they want to be governed by their representatives and not by the Lt. Governor," Justice Dattu observed, as Narsimhan said the entire issue has to be "seen from the perspective of the Lt. Governor and not from the perspective of a political party which has a political expediency".
Narsimhan said four months (since the assembly was put under suspended animation) should be seen in the context of 60 months - the five-year term of the state assembly.
Recounting the party-wise break-up in the Delhi assembly, the court said one (party) didn't want to form a government, and the other says it can't form a government, the third says it doesn't have the numbers, then "in a situation like this, why people should suffer?".
"The problem is that if at any stage, the court comes to conclusion or believes that the formation of the government is not possible, can court ask the president (read central government) to dissolve the assembly and hold election," the court asked counsel Fali Nariman.
Appreciating the court's reluctance to issue direction to the president, Nariman said that the court could make a request for the consideration of the option to dissolve the assembly and hold fresh elections.
"Representative government is a part of the basic structure of the constitution and it is for the court to enforce it," he said.
Referring to the earlier contention of the Lt. Governor that it would not be prudent to hold elections soon after Kejriwal government went out of office, counsel Shanti Bhushan told the court that there was a drastic change in the situation after the Lok Sabha elections as there was a huge swing in the vote share in favour of the BJP and also that of the AAP.
(Posted on 06-08-2014)