Atishi says Lieutenant Governor seeking report on Arvind Kejriwal home renovation ‘unconstitutional’, ‘undemocratic’


NEW DELHI: Delhi PWD Minister Atishi on Sunday wrote to Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena saying his directions seeking the seizure of records and directing executive action in connection with renovation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s official residence is ”unconstitutional” and ”undemocratic”. In the letter, she urged the L-G to ”withdraw his communication” and ”restore the scheme of governance intended by the Constitution for Delhi and its people”.

”We hope that you will not force the elected government to approach the court once again in respect of your actions,” Atishi maintained. Amid a row over crores of rupees spent on renovating Kejriwal’s official residence, Saxena has ordered officials to secure the records of expenditure and sought a report on the matter within 15 days.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been attacking Kejriwal and the AAP, claiming Rs 45 crore was spent on the renovation of the chief minister’s residence at 6, Flagstaff Road here during 2020-22. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)hit back, saying the BJP was trying to divert attention from real issues by raising this matter.

A Raj Niwas order, issued on April 27, cited reports on alleged ”gross irregularities” in the renovation of the CM residence by the Public Works Department (PWD). In her letter to the LG, Atishi said his communication is ”unconstitutional” and ”undemocratic”.

As the PWD minister of the city, she noted that she is primarily responsible for all government business pertaining to the department. She asserted that the L-G’s letter seeking the seizure of records and directing executive action is wholly outside the jurisdiction and authority of the office of the Lieutenant Governor, and bypasses the minister and the council of ministers concerned, who are democratically responsible for the business of the Delhi government.

“As per Rule 4(2) of the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993 (‘ToBR’), I find myself compelled by my constitutional duty to the people of Delhi in whose name I hold my mandate, to write to you regarding my concerns with the unconstitutional and undemocratic nature of your communication dated April 27,” the letter said.

The minister also noted that the letter written by the L-G is politically motivated. ”Needless to say that the insinuations and allegations made in the letter are baseless and devoid of merits and have been made for political reasons,” she added.

Citing the Constitution’s scheme for Delhi’s governance as incorporated in Article 239AA and explained by the Supreme Court in 2018, Atishi said the apex court had observed that the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers, and he has not been entrusted with any independent decision-making power.

Noting that though the L-G is empowered to seek information about decisions taken by the council of ministers under Rule 19(5) of the ToBR – information that the ministers do not wish to deny, she said he has no power whatsoever to direct executive action of any kind.

“Your letter dated 27.04.2023, by directing that certain records be seized and taken into protective custody and further directing the submission of a report on the same to your office, grossly oversteps the limited jurisdiction conferred on the Lieutenant-Governor’s office by the constitutional scheme.

”The communication does not exercise the power to seek information at all. Rather, it issues executive orders, a power not conferred on the Lieutenant-Governor’s office under the constitutional scheme at all, except when exercised on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers,” she wrote.

Atishi warned that the continual displacement of the constitutional scheme under Article 239AA will denude the democratic mandate of the people of Delhi.


Source: Press Trust of India

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