New Delhi, Jul 16 (PTI) The AAP government on Friday rejected the Delhi Police's proposal to set up a panel of public prosecutors to argue cases related to violence during a tractor rally by farmers on January 26, setting the stage for a fresh round of confrontation with the Centre and the L-G office.
Sources, however, said Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal is likely to invoke special powers granted to him under the Constitution and approve the panel of lawyers chosen by the Delhi Police.
Addressing an online press conference, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the appointment of lawyers comes completely under the purview of the Delhi government and that the L-G can only use his veto power in rarest of the rare cases.
He also alleged that the lieutenant governor has been using the veto power even in routine matters, terming it as a 'murder of democracy' and violation of the Supreme Court's orders.
After his cabinet's decision to reject the Delhi Police's panel of lawyers, Chief Minister Arvind Kerjiwal said it is the duty of every citizen of India to support farmers and that the Delhi government has not done any favour to them.
'We have only done our duty towards the farmers of the nation. A farmer is not a criminal or a terrorist, but our 'annadata',' he tweeted.
Sisodia also claimed that it is very unfortunate that the BJP-led central government has been interfering in the functioning of the AAP dispensation through the L-G.
'The Supreme Court has defined the use of this veto power by the L-G on transferred subjects. Doorstep delivery of ration and court matters related to farmers' protest are not the rarest of the rare cases.
'This power cannot be used left, right and centre everyday. This is murder of democracy and violation of the Supreme Court's orders,' the deputy chief minister said during the press conference.
In July last year, Lt Governor Anil Baijal had overturned the AAP government's decision to reject the Delhi Police's panel of lawyers to argue the 2020 northeast Delhi riot cases in the high court and Supreme Court.
According to a Delhi government official, the cabinet's decision to reject the city police's proposal to argue the farmers' protest cases will be conveyed to the L-G.
'It was decided that the Delhi government's lawyers will be public prosecutors in court matters related to the farmers' agitation,' the official said.
However, sources said that LG is likely to invoke his special power under the Constitution and refer the dispute to the president of India.
On Thursday, the Delhi government had accused the BJP-ruled Centre of putting pressure on it to replace its prosecutors appearing in cases related to the anti-farm laws stir, with those of the Delhi Police.
The issue pertained to a request made by the Delhi Police for the appointment of special public prosecutors for the cases related to violence, disrespect of the national flag and blatant disregard of the rule of law on Republic Day during the tractor rally taken out by the protesting farmers in the national capital.
'It has nothing to do with the farmers' protest as it is being deliberately made out with ulterior motives,' a source claimed.
On Thursday, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) in a statement had said that Baijal 'rejected' the panel of Delhi government lawyers appearing in the cases against the farmers protesting against the Centre's three new farm laws at the city's borders.
'The central government has come out in the open against the accused farmers of the anti-farm laws stir. The LG has stopped the Delhi government lawyers from fighting cases. The Centre is putting pressure on the (Arvind) Kejriwal government for replacing the lawyers of the state with its own to fight the cases against the accused farmers protesting against the farm laws,' it had said.
The city government had formed a panel of lawyers for an 'impartial' hearing of the cases against the farmers, it added.
'The Delhi Police investigating the cases, however, wants the appointment of its own panel of lawyers. Law Minister Satyendar Jain had rejected the Delhi Police proposal but now, the LG has put pressure on the Delhi government to call its cabinet meeting for a decision on the Delhi Police panel,' the statement said.
It also claimed that the LG, at a virtual meeting with Jain, had 'admitted' that the public prosecutors of the Delhi government were doing a 'good' job and fighting the cases efficiently.
The Delhi Police had registered over 40 cases in connection with the Republic Day (January 26) violence and vandalism.
PTI GVS/GJS BUN SRY