The battle between Delhi’s elected government and the Lieutenant Governor continues despite the recent Supreme Court order clearly stating that the job of the L-G was to merely aid and advise the government and not to obstruct its functioning. CM Kejriwal is keen to push through projects while Baijal is still trying to debate the fine print in the SC order.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday approved a scheme under which 1,100 senior citizens from each of Delhi’s 70 Assembly constituencies can undertake free pilgrimage, overruling all objections by Lt Governor Anil Baijal.
Under the ‘Mukhyamantri Teerth Yatra Yojana’, any resident of Delhi above the age of 60 will be eligible to undertake pilgrimage, accompanied by an attendant above the age of 18, whose expenditure will also be borne by the government.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot, while announcing the scheme to the media here, said the Chief Minister took the decision in exercise of powers given to the Delhi government by the Supreme Court ruling on July 4.
“Those desirous of undertaking the pilgrimage ought to have a voter ID card and a recommendation from area MLA. There is no income criterion, but preference will be given to those from economically weaker sections on first-come-first-serve basis,” Gahlot said.
The applications will be received online and selection of pilgrims will be done through a draw. Respective area MLAs will certify that intended beneficiary belongs to Delhi. Pilgrims will get an insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh each.
The pilgrimage for three days and two nights can be undertaken on following circuits: Delhi-Mathura-Vrindavan-Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Delhi; Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Neelkanth-Delhi; Delhi-Ajmer-Pushkar-Delhi; Delhi-Amritsar-Wagah border-Anandpur Sahib-Delhi; or Delhi-Vaishno Devi-Jammu-Delhi.
Every year, as many as 77,000 senior citizens can avail of this facility. Employees of central, state, local government or autonomous bodies are not eligible.
The Delhi cabinet in January approved the Revenue Department’s proposal to launch the scheme, but objections by the Lt Governor’s office put a spanner.
Arvind Kejriwal also urged Anil Baijal to fully implement the Supreme Court order giving primacy to the Delhi government on all matters except three in letter and spirit. Baijal responded that appeals were pending before a regular bench in the apex court and not to draw premature conclusions.
Kejriwal questioned Baijal over what he said was his selective acceptance of the Supreme Court ruling and advised him to approach the apex court immediately for clarification in case of any confusion.
“I would again urge you to fully implement the order of the SC in letter and spirit. MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) does not have the power to interpret the SC order. If you have any confusion, kindly approach SC immediately for clarification but kindly don’t violate the SC order,” Kejriwal wrote in a letter dated July 9.
Kejriwal also wrote that the Lt Governor was ready for the files and concurrence part of the order but not implementing the part which says that the “executive powers of the Central government are limited to three subjects only”.
“How can you be selective in accepting the judgement? Either you should take a position that all the matters would now be placed before a regular bench and therefore you would not implement any part of the order. Or you should accept the whole order and implement it. How can you say that you will accept this para of the order but not accept that para of the same order?”
The Supreme Court on July 4 ruled that the executive powers, except for public order, police and land, were vested in the elected government and the Lt Governor was bound to act on the aid and advise of the government in all other matters.
In response, Baijal said that Kejriwal had “erroneously mentioned” about the selective implementation of the judgement.
“When appeals are still pending before the regular bench, it will be premature to draw any conclusions in this regard,” said a statement from the LG office.
“While the entire judgement and its implications are still being studied, it may kindly be noted that in the concluding paras, the court while answering the reference has directed to place the matters before the appropriate regular bench. Therefore, further clarity will be achieved when the appeals pending before the regular bench are finally disposed,” it said.
Baijal pointed out that even before Kejriwal’s letter reached his office it had appeared on the social and electronic media. (IANS)