Supreme Court declares AAP government as administrative boss of Delhi

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that the Lt Governor cannot refer all matters to the President adding that the Delhi cannot have full statehood in view of an earlier nine-judge judgment.

Supreme Court

In a damning indictment of the LG’s style of functioning, the constitutional bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, said, “LG cannot act independently unless where the Constitution allows. LG cannot be an obstructionist.”

The top court ruled that the elected government and not the LG was the administrative boss of Delhi. This verdict in a way rejected the ruling of the High Court, which had declared the LG as the boss of Delhi.

Chief Justice Misra also said that the ‘popular will of people can’t be allowed to loose’ adding that ‘Under Article 239 AA, govt has some power to make laws in state list.’ According to LiveLaw, CJI Misra, Justice AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan unanimously said that the decision of elected government Delhi has to be respected and LG should act on aide and advise of the state government.

Here are key highlights of the order as flashed by LiveLaw:

  • LG can’t interfere in every matter. He should interfere only in exceptional manner to balance the Constitutional Federal structure
  • Popular will of people can’t be allowed to loose : CJI
  • Under Article 239 AA, govt has some power to make laws in state list : CJI
  • Executive power of GNCT, which is elected by people, is required some degree of independence: CJI Misra
  • The Constitution of India mandates a federal balance between the State and the Centre, Centre shall not usurp powers on areas within the dominion of state: SC
  • The opinion and decision of elected government has to be respected. But the constitution does not provide that LG to concur all decisions of govt: Justice Bhushan
  • Interpretation of Const provision should be based on the need of time : J Bhushan

Reacting to development, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “A big victory for the people of Delhi…a big victory for democracy.”

The Delhi High Court in 2016 had ruled that the LG was the administrative boss of the national capital. The AAP government had later challenged the High Court decision in the top court, which began its hearing in November last year.

A galaxy of senior lawyers namely P. Chidambaram and Indira Jaising had represented the Kejriwal government in the Supreme Court, while the Centre was represented by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh.

In one of its observations, the bench had said that it would only lay down the principles on the status of the national capital under the Constitution and not deal with the issues arising out of individual notifications issued by the Delhi government on matters like mohalla clinics and regularisation of guest teachers.

The rift has between the elected government and the LG had caused a constitutional crisis recently after Kejriwal and three of his cabinet colleagues staged a nine-day sit-in protest at Anil Baijal’s residence-cum-office. At least four chief ministers from across India had thrown their support behind Kejriwal. The Supreme Court was widely criticised for delaying its judgement, thereby contributing to the administrative chaos in the capital.

AAP says since it won a decisive mandate in 2015 by winning 67 out of 70 seats, it had the rights to take administrative decisions in favour of citizens, but the LG has been allegedly blocking most of the elected government’s key policy decisions.

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