The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government refused to accept Lt Governor Najeeb Jung’s stay on its order over hiking circle rates for agricultural land by directing officials to implement the decision even as he returned the file on the matter citing “inherent inconsistencies” and sought a fresh notification.
The matter reached a flashpoint as the government questioned the LG’s order in a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal saying he has no powers to direct a stay of any notification as only the judiciary has the power to do that.
Hours after the government’s decision, LG issued a statement holding the notification “bad in law” and asked the government to submit a fresh corrected notification, “duly rectifying the flaws” of the current one.
“Unfortunately, while seeking to grant stay on this pro-farmer notification, the communication from the hon’ble LG is totally silent as to under what rules and under what Constitutional or statutory provisions the hon’ble LG is authorized to attempt issuance of such directions,” a government statement said.
It said the issue falls within the purview of the transferred subjects, on which the LG is required to act on “aid and advice” of council of ministers according to Article 239 AA of the Constituion.
“This position was also clarified in an earlier communication addressed by the Home Minister of India to the Chief Minister of Delhi on January 31, 2011, exactly on the same matter. It was based on the opinion of the Attorney General,” it said.
The Cabinet in its resolution directed the officers to implement the August 4 notification so that they are “not liable” for any loss to the exchequer due to its non-implementation.
“The cabinet also urges the hon’ble LG not to resort to issuance of such unlawful communications which are cause of embarrassment for holders of High Constitutional Offices,” it said.
The LG explained his stance saying that rates have been fixed for land that would come under the Land Pooling Policy which has “not yet become operational because villages that will be covered under the policy have not yet been declared ‘urban’ by Delhi government.
“Secondly, the notification does not fix the minimum price for land situated within the river bed. This has always been done in the past,” the LG’s statement said.
On August 4, the AAP government had effected a major hike in circle rates for agricultural land increasing it to Rs 3.5 crore per acre against Rs 53 lakh per acre.
The government said whereas the market rate of agricultural land has increased manifold over the years, the circle rate for it was stagnant at Rs 53 lakh.
Initially, AAP government had not sent the file pertaining to enhanced circle rates to LG, citing a communication by the then Home Minister P Chidambaram to Sheila Dikshit dispensation in 2011.
However, when Jung sought the file, the government sent it to him. Jung on August 10 had stayed the notification.