When the current Chief Secretary, Mr. K. K. Sharma, went on leave for 10 days on the 10th of May this year, Ms. Shakuntala Gamlin, an IAS officer of the 1984 batch, was appointed as the acting Chief Secretary by the Lieutenant Governor (LG) Mr. Najeeb Jung. The appointment of Shakuntala Gamlin has raised a storm in the National Capital Territory’s (NCT) political canvas.

Power Struggle at the National Capital Territory?

Image Credit Indian Express

Ms. Gamlin, the widow of the former Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Mr. Jarbom Gamlin, has worked at various capacities throughout her 30-plus years of experience. Accusing Ms. Gamlin of being close to Power companies and lobbying for them, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister (CM) of the NCT, objected the LG’s decision to appoint Ms. Gamlin. While this may seem blown out of proportion by the mercurial CM, it showcases some of the legal constraints built around power at the NCT.

While Mr. Kejriwal believes that the public elected Government must have complete freedom in governance, the LG exercises executive functions in matters connected with public order, police and land exercise according to the Constitution of India. While the LG may discharge his executive functions in consultation with the CM, in cases where he “does not consider it expedient to do so”, he may not consult the CM. Unlike executive powers in the hand of the CM of any other Indian state, the CM of the NCT has some powers constrained by law and bureaucratic procedures.

Mr. Kejriwal, since the appointment of Ms. Gamlin, has openly been in a tussle with the LG. While the LG, the administrator, is acting based on what is recommended in the Constitution of India, Mr. Kejriwal, trying to execute the powers of a CM, has ignored several legal amendments of the concerned Article and has made some infantile judgements and opinions regarding appointments of bureaucrats in the NCT.

The on-going drama clearly points out how a clear knowledge of Law is important for citizens at all levels of administrative power.