Don’t Pre-Judge Issue of Jasmine Shah’s Removal from DDCD When It Is Before President: LG to HC

 The Delhi Lt Governor on Wednesday told the high court that it should not “pre-judge” the issue of removal of Jasmine Shah from the post of vice chairperson of DDCD and should await the decision of the President in the matter.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing the LG, submitted before Justice Prathiba M Singh that the matter of Shah’s removal is pending before the President and a court order on the same issue at this stage would “disturb the scheme of the Constitution”.

The court was hearing Shah’s petition challenging a November 17, 2022 order issued by Director (Planning), Delhi government, on the LG’s request to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to remove him from the post of vice chairperson of Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi’s (DDCD), and pending such a decision, to restrain him from using his office space and withdraw the staff and facilities assigned to him.

The DDCD offices were subsequently sealed on the night of November 17 last year for preventing its alleged “misuse by Shah for political gains”. The sealing exercise was undertaken by the Planning Department of the Delhi government.

Justice Singh listed the case for further hearing on May 24 while observing that the decision of the President may come in the meantime.

Jain said the petition is “premature” and the matter was sent to Centre for placing it before the President in terms of Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules in view of the difference of opinion between the LG and council of ministers and now awaiting the President’s view on Shah’s removal would facilitate a more comprehensive and meaningful decision by the court.

The senior lawyer also argued that the court should await the decision of the constitution bench of the Supreme Court on the issue of control of services in Delhi.

The senior counsel appearing for the petitioner said the present case does not come under the ambit of the matter pending before the Supreme Court.

Earlier, Shah’s counsel argued that the reference to the President was not in accordance with law and the matters of appointment in the present instance fell within the domain of the chief minister, which has been recognised by the LG as well, and there was thus “no basis” for the orders under challenge.

It was argued the chief minister did not favour Shah’s removal and in the absence of any consultation with the council of ministers, the LG could not have referred the matter to the President.

In December last year, the LG had told the court that the issue relating to removal of Shah was pending before the President in terms of Article 239AA (4) of the Constitution and it would be prudent of all authorities not to take any further action in the matter.

LG Vinai Kumar Saxena had said that Kejriwal, despite being aware that Shah’s matter was now required to be decided by the President, issued an order on December 8 directing the Planning Department to immediately recall the order by which Shah was restrained from discharging his duties in DDCD.

In his petition, Shah submitted that the orders passed against him are a “gross abuse of power and process”, “wholly without any merit, an instance of colourable exercise of authority, illegal, ex facie mala fide and patently lacking in jurisdiction”.

He also assailed orders locking his office and withdrawing all facilities as well as privileges.

Shah was behind the Delhi government’s ambitious electric vehicle policy and is the vice chairman of the think-tank involved in drawing blueprints of various initiatives of the city government, including its food truck policy, electronic city, and shopping festival, among others.

He enjoys the rank of a Cabinet minister and is entitled to perks and privileges of a Delhi government minister like official accommodation, office, vehicle and personal staff.

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