Delhi govt moves SC over new DERC chief

Challenges Centre’s appointment of ex-Allahabad HC Justice Umesh Kumar as new chief
Image used for representational purposes (Photo | PTI)
Image used for representational purposes (Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI:  The tussle between the elected govt and L-G over the appointment of the chairperson of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) has reached the country’s top court as Delhi government has challenged the Centre’s June 21 decision of appointing former Allahabad HC judge Justice Umesh Kumar as its new chief. 

Notably, the Delhi government had termed the Central government decision of posting Justice Kumar as “illegal and unconstitutional”.  Last week, Delhi power minister Atishi had said that although CM Arvind Kejriwal on June 21 had sent a recommendation of the name of Justice Sangeet Lodha (retired) for the post of the DERC chairperson but the same was ‘wilfully ignored by the President’. 

“This unconstitutional and illegal decision is extremely unfortunate and the Delhi govt shall challenge this in SC,” the minister had said.  “Lt Governor cannot stultify the government and the power to refer the matters to the President in case of difference of opinion between council of ministers and L-G,” the Supreme Court had observed on May 19 while hearing the plea by Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) against Delhi L-G VK Saxena’s inaction of approving the state’s proposal to appoint former MP HC judge Justice Rajeev Kumar as DERC’s new chairperson. 

A bench of CJI DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and KV Vishwanathan had directed for completion of the process of appointment of chairperson of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) within two weeks. 

Referring to the Supreme Court’s verdict on the tussle between GNCTD and L-G on the issue of administrative control over bureaucrats,  CJI DY Chandrachud had also said that L-G has to act on the aid and advise of council of ministers. 

L-G can’t stultify govt: Supreme Court
“Lt Governor cannot stultify the government and the power to refer the matters to the President in case of difference of opinion between the council of ministers and the L-G,” the Supreme Court had observed on May 19 while hearing the plea by Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) against Delhi L-G VK Saxena’s failure to act on approving Delhi government’s proposal to appoint former Madhya Pradesh High Court judge Justice Rajeev Kumar as DERC’s new chairperson. 

Timeline of events

July 2021 Former judge of Allahabad HC Shabihul Hasnain appointed DERC chairperson on Arvind Kejriwal’s recommendation. He retired on January 9, 2023

January 4, 2023 CM recommends name of former MP HC judge Rajeev Kumar Srivastava for post. Then power minister Manish Sisodia writes to L-G VK Saxena to approve the same, but L-G returns the file

May 2023 CM’s office sends file to L-G for the second time Delhi govt moves SC over the issue
SC rules that L-G can’t act on his own discretion in matter; orders completion of process within 2 weeks

June 15, 2023 RK Srivastava withdraws his name citing personal circumstances

June 21, 2023 CM recommends name of former Rajasthan HC CJ Sangeet Lodha

June 22, 2023 Former judge of Allahabad HC Umesh Kumar appointed DERC chairperson

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