NEW DELHI: The Lieutenant Governor (LG) is merely a "figurehead" except for matters related to public order, police and land, the AAP government has told Delhi High Court.
The submission was made before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath by senior advocate Dayan Krishnan during the hearing of a bunch of petitions on the powers of the LG, Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) as well as the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) set up by the Delhi government to probe into the alleged CNG fitness scam.
"Except for the three exceptions (public order, police and land), LG is only a figurehead," Krishnan said, while referring to the Constitution.
He also said that under the Constitution, aid and advice by council of ministers means the LG or Governor "was bound" by their decision except where he has discretionary powers.
While one of the petitions has been filed by the Delhi government challenging the Centre's notifications on the powers of the ACB and LG, others, including one by the Union government, have been filed against setting up of the CoI.
The city government has also challenged a September 17 memorandum issued by LG Najeeb Jung directing all officers not to follow the AAP government's orders which were declared "null and void" by the Union government.
The memorandum has also stated that officers would face strict action for non-compliance with the LG's order.
The court on Wednesday had decided to club all the matters together and carry out regular hearing on the issues raised in them.
It had also directed the Centre and the Delhi government, in the interim, to not precipitate matters by taking "coercive steps" against each other and their officials in connection with the issues raised in the petitions.
The court had directed the Centre not to take any coercive measures in regard to the September 17 memorandum and had restrained the city government from taking any coercive steps in connection with the CoI proceedings in the CNG fitness scam.
The AAP government had by way of an August 11 order appointed Justice (Retd) S N Agarwal, a former judge of Delhi and Madhya Pradesh High Courts, as a one-man probe panel to go into all aspects of the award of work relating to CNG fitness certificates in the transport department of Delhi, in which number of officials of the erstwhile Sheila Dikshit government are under the scanner.
Apart from the August 11 order, the Centre has challenged the September 11 decision of the Delhi government-appointed Commission of Inquiry (CoI), which had issued non-bailable warrant (NBW) against ACB chief M K Meena, who was appointed by the LG.
The CoI, appointed to probe the multi-crore CNG fitness scam, had also directed attachment of 30 per cent of Meena's salary till the records pertaining to the inquiry conducted by the ACB were presented to the probe panel.
With this interim order, the stay on the NBW against Meena, granted by the high court on September 15, will also continue till a final decision is arrived at on the pending petitions.
The CNG fitness scam had surfaced in 2012 when the ACB found that the Delhi government had lost over Rs 100 crore by awarding a contract to operate and maintain certification of CNG vehicles at the transport authority in Burari to ESP India Pvt Ltd, instead of ESP USA.
The charge sheet was filed before Special Judge Poonam Chaudhry in the case in which several persons were arrested in 2013 for allegedly siphoning off crores of rupees in conducting fitness tests of commercial vehicles in the national capital in connivance with the transport department.
In June, when the AAP government had directed ACB to reopen the case, the LG's office had said the Justice Mudgal committee which had probed the case had found no mala fide on part of any government functionary.
Along with the May 21 notification, Delhi government has also challenged the July 23, 2014 notification of the Centre which limited ACB's jurisdiction to Delhi government officials only.
The face-off between LG and Arvind Kejriwal's government has resulted in the ACB now having two chiefs.
It all began on June 8, when Joint Commissioner Meena took charge of ACB after he was appointed by LG, superseding Additional Commissioner S S Yadav. Yadav had been hand-picked by Delhi government for the post.