Appointing prosecutors for Jan 26 violence cases triggers fresh row between LG-AAP govt

Delhi L-G Anil Baijal

New Delhi, (Asian independent)┬áThe appointment of a panel of special public prosecutors (SPPs) to deal with the cases related to the January 26 violence during the farmers’ tractor rally against the three new farm laws has triggered a fresh confrontation between the Delhi Cabinet and the Lieutenant Governor.

The Delhi Cabinet on Friday rejected a panel of special public prosecutors, suggested by Delhi Police, saying the Delhi government’s existing panel will continue as public prosecutors in the case.

The Cabinet’s decision came as a counter to Delhi L-G Anil Baijal’s recommendation to approve a panel of SPPs from the list suggested by Delhi Police. On July 2, Baijal had written to Delhi Minister Satyendar Jain and asked him to clear the proposal (SPPs recommended by Delhi police) in the cabinet. However, during a cabinet meeting on Friday, the council of ministers rejected the L-G’s proposal.

The Cabinet instead has decided that the panel appointed by the Delhi government will continue as public prosecutors in the case.

“The Cabinet’s decision is in line with the Delhi government’s stand that existing regular additional public prosecutors belonging to the Directorate of Prosecution are competent enough to handle the cases,” the Delhi government said in a statement.

It added that the “Delhi Cabinet observed that the demand of the Delhi Police to appoint lawyers of their own choice in the case was baseless and unwarranted and that it could not allow the same to happen. The cabinet was satisfied with the performance of the government’s present public prosecutors and noted that there were no complaints made against their functioning.”

Now, the Cabinet’s decision will be sent to the L-G for his final approval.

The L-G now has the choice to invoke Article 239AA (4) and refer the matter to the President of India as the recommendation could not find a consensus with the elected government.

A similar standoff was seen between the L-G and the Delhi government earlier when the Delhi Police had recommended a panel of SPPs for the Delhi riots cases. The LG had then invoked Article 239AA(4), and the panel picked by the police was appointed.

However, on the possibility of invoking Article 239AA(4) by the L-G, the Delhi Cabinet noted that provision to Article 239AA(4) can be invoked by the L-G only in extremely rare cases. It said the Article gives special powers to the L-G to take immediate action as he deems necessary in “extremely rare cases”.

“The appointment of SPPs, and that too repeatedly, cannot fall in the category of ‘extremely rare cases’,” the Cabinet noted.