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Centre defends decision on Delhi House

New Delhi, March 6: The government today defended in the Supreme Court its decision to keep the Delhi Assembly under suspended animation, saying elections so soon were not in public interest and dissolving the House would “close the option” of staking fresh claim.

The Centre’s affidavit came in response to a notice the court had issued on a petition filed by Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, which had challenged the President’s decision not to dissolve the Assembly.

Kejriwal, whose rookie party won 28 of Delhi’s 70 seats in the elections late last year, had resigned as chief minister on February 14 after his minority government lost a bid to introduce an anti-corruption bill.

The AAP leader had recommended that the Assembly be dissolved but lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung had not considered it.

In its affidavit, the Centre said the petitioners had “erroneously proceeded on the basis” that the President was “bound to dissolve” the Assembly because there was “no possibility of the formation of any government.

“This assertion has been made on the basis of (the) contention that the other main parties, namely (the) BJP and (the) Congress have expressed their unwillingness and inability to form the government,” the affidavit said.

The Centre said Jung, in his February 15 report to the President, had explained why immediate elections would not be “expedient”.

One reason was holding fresh elections within such a “short” span of time was not in public interest. “Since the election to the Assembly has only concluded in the first week of December and the government was formed on 28 December, 2013, it would not be expedient, or in the interest of the public of the national capital territory of Delhi to hold the next elections in such a short time,” the Centre said, quoting the lieutenant governor’s communication to the President.

Jung also said dissolving the House would “close the option” of other political parties or alliances to “stake… claim in the near future”, according to the affidavit.

The government told the court the situation in the Delhi Assembly was fluid because of internal dissent in the AAP that has expelled one of its MLAs, who had claimed he had the support of some legislators, while a founder-leader had quit the party. “In this scenario, as pointed out by the LG, the possibility of the BJP staking claim to form the government could not be ruled out,” the Centre said.

The BJP has 32 MLAs, four short of the majority in the 70-member House. The Congress had won 8 seats and others 2.

Because of the “fractured mandate”, the situation could “very well change in the near future”, the Centre said. “Therefore, it is respectfully submitted that the petitioners are totally wrong in asserting that there is absolutely no possibility of the formation of any other government in Delhi.”

The Centre said the “democratic right” of the capital’s citizens “obligates” the lieutenant governor and the President to “explore every possibility of a popularly elected government emerging from the duly elected Legislative Assembly”.

The government cited a 1994 judgment of the court to back its argument. The court had then said dissolution of an Assembly amounted to undoing the will of the people, which should not be resorted to as a matter of course but only out of necessity.