Delhi Law Minister Manish Sisodia has directed the law department to place before him all files and instructions received from L-G Anil Baijal or his office. In his order, which has the potential to spark a tussle between the AAP dispensation and the LG office, Sisodia has said that no instructions, verbal or written, will be issued by officers of the department without his approval. Sisodia, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister, said that in case of urgency, his approval can be sought through email, phone or WhatsApp.
“No legal advice shall be given by the law department without the approval of the Law Minister,” he said. The AAP government had been at loggerheads with the LG office during the tenure of ex-LG Najeeb Jung over several issues. But there has been no open fight between the AAP dispensation and the LG office after Baijal took charge last December.
The order comes four days after heated exchanges between the Delhi government’s Senior Standing Counsel Rahul Mehra and Additional Standing Counsel Naushad Ahmed Khan inside the courtroom in the High Court with both claiming to be the authorised representatives of the AAP government. Khan had claimed to represent the services department, which comes under the Lt Governor. Mehra, appointed by the AAP government, had said he had allocated the matter to another lawyer.
“If the department is desirous of engaging a Counsel other than the one to whom the matter ordinarily stands marked by the Standing Counsel, no BTF (Brief Transmission Form) shall be issued by any officer in the law department without the approval of the law minister,” the Deputy CM said in the order. In August last year, the Delhi High Court had stamped the primancy of the Lt Governor in the administrative issue for Delhi. The Delhi government has challenged the order in the Supreme Court.