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SC seeks Centre's reply on AAP plea against President’s rule in Delhi

New Delhi, Feb 24 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Centre on a petition filed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) challenging imposition of President's rule in Delhi.

A bench of justices R M Lodha and Dipak Misra issued notice to the Centre asking it to respond within 10 days on the issue raised by the AAP.

The bench, which posted the matter for hearing on March 7, refrained from issuing notice to the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress, which were made party in the petition, saying it only wants to deal with the constitutional issue and does not want to have a political contest.

“It is a constitutional issue so whoever has passed the order has to answer,” the bench said and added, “We don't want it to be a political contest”.

Senior advocate Fali S Nariman appeared for the AAP and explained the facts which led to the filing of the petition.

Earlier, on February 21, the apex court had agreed to hear on February 24 the petition seeking a direction to the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve Delhi Assembly and hold fresh polls along with Lok Sabha elections.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who had appeared for AAP, had said there was no possibility of any alternative government in Delhi and the Lieutenant Governor should have dissolved the Assembly.

The joint petition, filed on the basis of newspaper reports and documents available in public domain, by AAP and Saurabh Bhardwaj, who was the Transport Minister in Kejriwal Cabinet, challenged the decision to impose President's rule in Delhi on the recommendation of the Lieutenant Governor alleging it was done to protect Congress leaders and former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit from corruption charges.

It contended that the February 16 order imposing President's rule was with a motive to frustrate the ongoing investigation in those corruption cases in which FIR has been lodged by the Arvind Kejriwal government.

The petition has said, “Apparently, the motive behind not dissolving the Delhi Legislative Assembly and holding fresh election is to allow a political party, which had badly lost the Delhi Legislative Assembly Election…to govern the NCT of Delhi indirectly through the central government as the same party is presently in power in the Centre and also to frustrate the ongoing investigations in those corruption charges under the FIRs which were recently lodged by the Delhi Government.”

”Thus, the aforesaid decision is not only arbitrary and illegal and in violation of the democratic rights of the citizens of Delhi but also mala fide,” it said.

The petition has said the order to impose President's rule was “illegal, arbitrary and in violation” of Article 14 of the Constitution as after the resignation of the Kejriwal government neither BJP nor Congress were in a position to form the government and they had already expressed unwillingness in this regard.