LG can’t scuttle executive decision by sitting over file: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court on Thursday told the Delhi Lieutenant Governor that he could not simply “scuttle an executive decision by sitting over a file.” The top court has now begun hearing pleas against the High Court’s order declaring L-G as the national capital’s administrative head.

Supreme Court

The apex court said on Thursday, “He (L-G) must exercise his power in reasonable time with reasons.” The SC also observed that the LG appeared to have primacy under the Constitution and the Delhi government could not act without his consent.

The bench also observed that constitution had limited Delhi government’s powers and it could not have a say on public order, police and land, reported India Today. The court observed that difference of opinion between the Delhi government and the Centre “is to be referred to the President for final view”.

The high court in its order in 2016 had held that Delhi was not a state and the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) was its administrative head.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the Delhi government, initiated the argument before a five-judge Constitution bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra, reported PTI.

He told a bench, also comprising justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, D. Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan that their plea challenges the Delhi high court order of 4 August, last year, by which it has said that L-G is the administrative head of Delhi, which is also a union territory.

He said the challenge is to Article 239 AA by virtue of which special status is accorded to Delhi. The apex court had on 15 February referred to a Constitution bench the pleas filed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government against the high court verdict which had held that Delhi is not a state and the L-G is its administrative head.

The city government had on 2 February told the apex court that it has exclusive executive powers in relation to matters falling within the purview of the legislative assembly and neither the Centre nor the President or the L-G can encroach upon these.

The apex court, however, had said that it is correct that the elected government should have some powers but whether it will be as per the Delhi high court verdict or as it is being perceived by the Delhi government needed to be looked into.

The Constitution has given a face and identity to a government in Delhi after inclusion of Article 239AA and the executive decisions taken and implemented by it cannot be reversed by the L-G, it had contended. The apex court had on 14 December, last year, observed that the Delhi government should have some powers otherwise it cannot function while hearing the appeals of the city government.

On 9 September 2016, the apex court had refused to grant an interim stay on the verdict of the Delhi high court of 4 August last year.

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