Delhi High Court dismiss PIL seeking directions to allow Delhi CM to interact with the Delhi Assembly for efficient governance

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: A PIL was filed seeking issuance of directions to GNCTD (respondent 1) to provide arrangements for efficient governance of Delhi by allowing the Chief Minister to interact with the Delhi Assembly and Cabinet Ministers via video conferencing subject to any conditions that may be imposed. The Petitioner further seeking issuance of directions to Union of India (Respondent 4) through Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology and Broadcasting to restrain the media channels from creating undue pressure and airing sensational headlines relating to the resignation of the current Chief Minister and imposing President rule in Delhi. A division bench of Manmohan and Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora, JJ., dismissed with costs Rs.1,00,000 to be deposited with AIIMS Poor Fund, New Delhi within two weeks.

A public interest petition was filed seeking various directions concerning the governance of Delhi and the treatment of its Chief Minister. The petitioner requested arrangements for the Chief Minister to interact with the Delhi Assembly and Cabinet Ministers via video conferencing, amid concerns over the Chief Minister’s arrest and potential media sensationalism regarding his resignation. Additionally, the petition sought to restrain political rivals from organizing protests or making statements regarding the Chief Minister’s removal. The petitioner highlighted concerns over the Chief Minister’s ability to govern effectively while under arrest, emphasizing the absence of any constitutional or legal prohibition against governing from judicial custody. Allegations were made against a political rival for orchestrating protests to pressure the Chief Minister, which the petitioner deemed as having a malicious political intent.

Counsel for petitioner argued for the necessity of enabling the Chief Minister to conduct governmental affairs remotely, stressing their track record of efficient governance over the past seven years. On the other hand, the Additional Solicitor General contended that the petition lacked merit, labeling it as misconceived and driven by ulterior motives, especially since the petitioner hailed from Jharkhand.

The Court deliberated on the merit of each submission. It acknowledged the ongoing legal proceedings in the Supreme Court regarding the Chief Minister’s arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), with interim relief under consideration. Consequently, the court deemed it unnecessary to issue directives allowing the Chief Minister’s remote interaction with officials at this juncture. Regarding media censorship and political rallies, the Court asserted its inability to infringe upon the freedom of the press or curtail political opposition. It highlighted the democratic rights of the political rivals to organize protests and express dissent. The court refrained from intervening in matters where constitutional rights and democratic principles were at play, indicating a commitment to upholding fundamental freedoms.

Thus, the Court dismissed the petition, imposing costs on the petitioner for what it perceived as a frivolous filing. The petitioner was directed to deposit a sum of Rupees one lakh to the AIIMS Poor Fund Account within a stipulated timeframe.

[Shrikant Prasad v. GNCTD, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 3429, decided on 08-05-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Petitioner in person

Mr. Chetan Sharma, ASG with Mr. Mr. Anurag Ahluwalia, Mr. Amit Gupta, Mr. Vinay Yadav, Mr. Saurabh Tripathi, Mr. Abhay Singh and Mr. Vikramaditya Singh and Mr. Shivam Sachdeva, Advocates for UOI

Mr. Abhijit Shankar, Law Officer, Tihar Jail (through VC) Mr. Santosh Kumar Tripathi, Standing Counsel, Civil, GNCTD with Mr. Tushar Sannu, Mr. Mohit Bhardwaj, Mr. Sahaj Karan Singh, Mr. Pradyumn Rao and Mr. Rishabh Srivastava, Advocates

Mr. Rishikesh Kumar ASC, GNCTD Ms. Sheenu Priya Mr. Atik Gill Mr. Sudhir Kumar Shukla, Advocates

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