HC: Delhi government has ‘come to a standstill’ due to CM’s absence | India News

HC: Delhi government has ‘come to a standstill’ due to CM’s absence | India News

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NEW DELHI: Delhi govt has “come to a standstill” due to absence of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi high court said on Monday, underlining that “national and public interest” demands a CM can’t be absent for a long stretch of time or for an uncertain period.
In a strongly-worded order flagging the failure of Delhi govt and MCD to provide textbooks, writing material and uniforms to nearly two lakh MCD school students in a timely manner, HC said Kejriwal’s absence should not deprive children of their fundamental rights.
Brushing aside the claim by govt that any financial power to the MCD commissioner above Rs 5 crore would make him unaccountable to the house, a bench of acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora lifted that ceiling for the specific task of using funds for purchase of books, stationery, uniforms and other facilities that the MCD students are entitled to.

HC: Delhi govt has ‘come to a standstill’ due to CM’s absence

HC said Delhi govt blaming other institutions for its inability to provide facilities to students amounted to “shedding of crocodile tears”. Even as it took “judicial notice” of the fact that the current MCD house has “hardly transacted any business in the last one year”, the court said the real issues were “power”, “control”, “turf dominance” and “who takes the credit”. In its verdict, HC touched upon govt’s justifications for the “logjam” in functioning of MCD, namely the absence of Kejriwal.
It said there was a “ring of truth” in the statement made by Delhi’s urban development minister, Saurabh Bharadwaj, that any increase in the financial powers of the MCD commissioner required the CM’s nod as it “amounts to an admission” that Delhi government is at a standstill.
It stressed that “holders of constitutional posts have to every day take important as well as urgent decisions” listing free textbooks, writing material and uniform as well as replacement of broken chairs and tables in MCD schools as “an urgent and immediate decision which brooks no delay and which is not prohibited during (implementation of) model code of conduct”.
The court further noted that the decision of the CM to continue despite having been arrested and his petition being dismissed by HC was a personal one. But it does not mean that “if the chief minister is not available, the fundamental rights of young children would be trampled upon and they would go through the first term (April 1 to May 10) without free textbooks, writing material and uniform,” the bench underscored.
It observed that a CM’s post in any state, leave alone a buzzing capital city like Delhi, was not a ceremonial one and that the office holder has to be virtually available 24×7 to deal with any crisis or natural disaster like flooding, fire and disease. “National interest and public interest demand that no person who holds this post is incommunicado or absent for a long stretch of time or for an uncertain period of time. To say that no important decision can be taken during a model code of conduct is a misnomer,” the court added.
HC was hearing a PIL by NGO Social Jurist, represented by advocate Ashok Agarwal, highlighting the non-supply of educational material and other statutory benefits to two lakh students in MCD schools even after commencement of the new academic session.
The MCD commissioner had earlier contended that non-distribution of the items was due to absence of a standing committee, which has the power to award contracts worth more than Rs 5 crore. He had told the court that in September last year, he wrote to Delhi govt seeking its nod for enhancement of his financial powers so that crucial tasks relating to the corporation are not stuck. Delhi govt had earlier said to address the void created by the absence of the committee, MCD had adopted a resolution in January that all functions of the committee shall be carried out by the house till then.

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