In the present conflict between Najeeb Jung and Kejriwal several people have asked me for my opinion as to who is correct ?
My opinion is : Kejriwal is correct. Let me explain
1. Before coming to Article 239AA of the Constitution, the Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991, and the Transaction of Business of the Government Rules, 1993, we should first consider the matter from the historical perspective.
In ancient and medieval times, the king was supreme. However after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the principle of democracy and Parliamentary Sovereignty have been firmly established in England and elsewhere. Now it is not the king but the people who are supreme, and they excercize their 'general will', as Rousseau called it, through their representatives in the legislature.
2. What power, if any, does the British king now have ?
According to the eminent constitutional expert Walter Bagehot ( 1826-1877 ), as mentioned in his well known book 'The English Constitution', the British King still has 3 rights :(1) the right to be consulted, (2) the right to encourage, and (3) the right to warn. But apart from these very limited rights, he has to act in accordance with the advice of the Council of Ministers.
3. In Shamsher Singh vs. State of Punjab, A.I.R. 1974 S.C.2192 a 7 Judge bench of the Indian Supreme Court held that the President and Governors in India are like the British King. In other words, they have to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers, and not on their own discretion. This was the legal position even before the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution which amended Article 74 by adding the words " who shall act on the advice of the Council of Ministers ". Thus, the 42nd Amendment only clarified the law, and did not change it
As explained by the Supreme Court in Shamsher Singh's judgment, the expression ' aid and advice ' is only a term of art, and it does not mean that the President or Governor has any discretion in the matter. He has to act according to the advice given by the Council of Ministers, and this is obvious once it is realized that we are living in a democracy, where people rule themselves ( through their elected representatives ). The President of India and the Governors are only formal heads, like the British King
4. It is true that Delhi is not a full fledged state, and certain powers e.g. relating to police and land, are with the Central Government.
However, Delhi is also not a Union Territory, after the 69th Constitutional Amendment which introduced Articla 239AA. Unlike a Union Territory, it has a legislature and a Council of Ministers.
Article 239AA (4) of the Constitution says " There shall be a Council of Ministers with a Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Lt. Governor in the excercize of his functions in reference to matters with respect to which the Lt. Governor has power to make laws, except insofar as he is, by or under law required to act in his discretion "
The expression ' aid and advise ' has to treated as a term of art, as held by the Supreme Court in Shamsher Singh's case, and not literally, otherwise democracy will be subverted.
Article 239(6) says that " The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Assembly ".. This provision incorporates the principle of democracy that the people rule themselves, through their elected representatives. The stand of Mr. Najeeb Jung is thus totally untenable.
Mr Najeeb Jung claims that he has the authority to appoint officers of the Delhi Government at his discretion, while Kejriwal claims he does not. Assuming that there is some legal uncertainty on this matter, the democratic way of resolving it is that we accept Mr. Kejriwal's view, because he is an elected functionary, and head of a democratically elected body, while Najeeb Jung is not.
It is evident that Najeeb Jung is behaving like His Master's Voice. Like Faust, he has sold his soul to a Mephistopheles