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AAP vs L-G: Centre to Field Harish Salve, Other Heavyweights to Defend Anil Baijal

Three veteran lawyers—Harish Salve, CA Sundaram and Rakesh Dwivedi—have been engaged by the Centre to fight for retaining the powers on 'Services' and Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB).

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:July 19, 2018, 4:10 PM IST
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New Delhi: The war between the Delhi government and the Lieutenant-Governor seems far from over.

Days after the Supreme Court ruling on the division of powers between the elected government and the L-G, the Centre has decided to escalate the second round of the legal battle.

Three veteran lawyers—Harish Salve, CA Sundaram and Rakesh Dwivedi—have been engaged by the Centre to fight for retaining the powers on 'Services' and Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB).

The Ministry of Home Affairs, Union Territory Division, has written to the Law Ministry, apprising latter of the decision to engage the three senior lawyers to lead the cases before a two-judge bench in the apex court.

“Relevant files will be sent in due course to department of legal affairs for ex-post facto approval,” stated the letter, accessed exclusively by CNN-News18.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh has been appearing for the central government and the L-G in this case so far.

On the other hand, the AAP government was represented through a bunch of senior lawyers, including Gopal Subramanium, Rajeev Dhavan, P Chidambaram, Shekhar Naphade and Indira Jaising.

Sources told CNN-News18 that after the Constitution Bench verdict, it was decided that the legal team required heavyweights to ward off any embarrassment and unfavourable orders against the L-G.

What has been perceived as a major victory for Delhi's Aam Aadmi Party (government, the Constitution Bench had on July 4 ruled that the L-G cannot act independently, can't obstruct the elected government's policy decisions and is bound by the government's aid and advice.

After drawing a boundary around the powers of the L-G, the Constitution Bench had sent back the individual cases to be determined by the smaller bench on the basis of the broad parameters laid down in its judgment.

Subsequently, a bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan has to decide the matters relating to the notifications issued by the L-G that took away the powers of AAP government to transfer and post officers in Delhi.

Besides, the notification also said that the ACB cannot take cognisance of offences against employees of the central government, including Delhi Police.

These two issues emerged as the flashpoint between the two sides. And to keep the control, the Centre will now field three veteran lawyers in the court.

The case was taken up by the court on Thursday when senior lawyer P Chidambaram, appearing on behalf of AAP government, complained that in spite of the Constitution Bench verdict, the administration of the city was paralysed. The court then fixed July 26 for detailed hearing.

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