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AAP vs Centre: No new powers for Delhi government, says Arun Jaitley on Supreme Court verdict

Nothing has changed, Jaitley indicated in a Facebook post.

AAP vs Centre: No new powers for Delhi government, says Arun Jaitley on Supreme Court verdict

NEW DELHI: Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday tried to puncture the Aam Aadmi Party's sails, by saying the party's celebrations of the Supreme Court verdict on control of the Delhi government are misplaced. He posted his interpretation of Wednesday's judgement in which he contended why the AAP will still not be able to legally control the postings of IAS officers or set up investigations.

Jaitley's post seems to have come in response to the celebratory tone that the AAP had taken on Wednesday, along with its assertions that it now has the right to appoint or transfer officers as it pleases.

In a Facebook post, Jaitley pressed three main points of his interpretation of the Supreme Court verdict - Delhi is a Union Territory; the Centre will have sole authority over police, public order and land, and the Delhi government does not have the power over the appointments and transfers of officers.

"Delhi is not a State and, therefore, there could be no assumption that powers which belong to State Governments also belongs to the elected Government of the Union Territory. It has been specifically held by the Supreme Court that it is crystal clear that by no stretch of imagination, NCT of Delhi can be accorded the status of a State under the present constitutional scheme," read Jaitley's post.

He noted that the Supreme Court was categorical in saying that the "power in relation to police, public order and land shall vest exclusively in the Central Government."

"… if Delhi has no police powers, it cannot set up investigative agency to investigate crimes as had been done in the past," Jaitley said. The AAP government has long complained over its inability to set up investigative agencies specifically focused on rooting out graft.

Jaitley then came to another pet grouse of the AAP - the power to make appointments and transfers of officials. This seems to have come as a pointed response to the claim by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia that the SC judgement had cemented his AAP government's authority over appointments and transfers.

"… the Supreme Court has held categorically that Delhi cannot compare itself at par with other States and, therefore, any presumption that the administration of the UT cadre of services has been decided in favour of the Delhi Government would be wholly erroneous," read Jaitley's post.

"Since several versions of this judgement have appeared in the public space, I hope those who want to contribute to the public debate would read the judgement before commenting on it," Jaitley concluded.