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Published On: Wed, Nov 8th, 2017

P Chidambaram: Lt Governor isn’t the Delhi’s Viceroy

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Chidambaram_PTI1NEW DELHI : Challenging the high court verdict that ruled Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor, or LG, was the national capital’s administrative boss, the Supreme Court today heard senior Congress leader P Chidambaram argue that the LG isn’t the Viceroy of the British Crown that he had been made out to be but only the President’s representative with a much narrower mandate.

Mr Chidambaram, appearing for AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal government before the top court’s constitution bench, said the LG could not sit over files or automatically refer a decision to the President in case of difference of opinion. He first had to seek a clarification from the elected government or ask them to reconsider.

The former Home Minister is one of the nine lawyers lined up by the AAP government to argue before a five-judge constitution bench that is hearing petitions by the city government that accuse the centre of misinterpreting the Constitution to eat into its authority and block decisions.
Mr Chidambaram was a surprise addition to the battery of lawyers appearing for the government led by Arvind Kejriwal. As an anti-corruption activist and later after floating the Aam Aadmi Party, Mr Kejriwal had been a bitter critic of the UPA government and at odds with Mr Chidambaram.
When Mr Kejriwal had first made the “LG is not a Viceroy” comment back in February 2014, it was the UPA government that had been on his radar. He hadn’t been allowed to table the Jan Lokpal bill in the state legislature and decided to quit.

In his resignation speech from the AAP headquarters, Mr Kejriwal said: “Does the Centre think they are angrez (colonial British rulers)? The Lieutenant-Governor thinks he is the Viceroy”. Mr Chidambaram was then the Finance Minister, the Congress’ Sushil Kumar Shinde the Union Home Minister and Najeeb Jung the Delhi Lieutenant Governor.
In the Supreme Court today, Mr Chidambaram urged the top court to ensure that its decision must reflect the principle of democratic governance and the interpretation must not weaken democracy.

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