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SC gives government a month to end Delhi political stalemate

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New Delhi, Sep 9 :

The Supreme Court Tuesday gave the central government a month’s time to take a decision on forming a government in Delhi, where the assembly was put under suspended animation following the resignation of the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government Feb 14.

The Constitution Bench of Chief Justice-designate Justice H.L.Dattu, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice A.K.Sikri, Justice A.K.Agrawal and Justice Arun Mishra gave the government till Oct 10 – the next date of hearing – after Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narsimha told the court that Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung has written to President Pranab Mukherjee on exploring the formation of a government.

Supreme CourtAsking the central government to inform it about the decision taken by the president on Jung’s letter, the bench said it was not going to wait for long and keep the matter pending.

The Delhi assembly was placed under suspended animation by Feb 17 by a presidential proclamation.

In the course of the last hearing of the matter Aug 5, the court asked the government to take a decision on forming a Delhi government within a reasonable time.

Expressing its displeasure over the situation, the court had then said: “Time and again, we have adjourned the matter to see if any party was willing to form the government. What endeavours are being made? We want to know.”

“What is the possible time by which his Excellency would take a decision?” the court asked Narsimha, as it showed its impatience at the pace things were moving. Narsimha had sought four weeks’ time for completing the political process set in motion by Jung.

The court in the last hearing blamed the central government for the situation where elected representatives were not doing anything and yet were getting paid.

Narsimha informed the court about the Sep 4 letter Jung wrote to the president seeking to explore the possibility of forming the government by inviting the single largest party in Delhi assembly – the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is, however, short of a majority.

Senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), urged the court to take note of alleged horse-trading by the BJP to attain majority. The court refused to take on record an additional affidavit on the issue and asked both Nariman and AAP counsel Prashant Bhushan to wait till Oct 10.

The constitution bench is hearing Aam Admi Party’s plea seeking dissolution of the assembly as was recommended by the Arvind Kejriwal-led government when it exited on the Jan Lokpal Bill issue in February.

The BJP had won 32 seats in the elections to the Delhi assembly in December 2013, that also included one belonging to its ally Akali Dal. However, its strength came down to 28 after three of its legislators – Harsh Vardhan, Ramesh Bidhuri and Pervesh Verma – were elected to the Lok Sabha in the general elections April-May this year.

The AAP, which won 28 seats, formed the government with the support of Congress’s eight legislators. However, now its strength is 27 after expulsion of rebel legislator Vinod Kumar Binny.

(IANS)