The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would consider setting up a five-judge bench to hear the AAP government’s appeals against the high court order holding the lieutenant governor the administrative head of Delhi.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar considered the submission of the Arvind-Kejriwal-led government that the Constitutional issue needed to be adjudicated upon urgently.
The bench assured senior advocates Gopal Subramanium and Indira Jaising, representing the Delhi government, that it would fix a date to hear the appeals after the bench finishes the lengthy hearing in the inter-states Cauvery water dispute. Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, representing the Centre, said the appeals would be listed after the Diwali vacation.
On July 11, when the Delhi government approached the apex court for early adjudication of the matter, it had said this was “a very difficult an complicated problem” and would consider setting up the Constitution bench. The Delhi government had on February 23 and April 17 approached the apex court for setting up the constitution bench.
On February 15, a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and R K Agrawal referred the batch of pleas filed by the AAP government against the high court verdict — which had held that Delhi is not a state and that the lieutenant governor is its administrative head — to a Constitution bench. The bench had said important questions of law and the Constitution were involved in the matter and it should be adjudicated upon by a Constitution Bench.
The Delhi government had on February 2 told the apex court that it has exclusive executive powers in relation to matters falling within the purview of the Legislative Assembly and the Centre, the president or the LG could not encroach upon these. The apex court said it was correct that the elected government should have some powers, but whether it would be according to the Delhi High Court verdict or as being perceived by the Delhi government needed to be looked into.
The city government had told the bench that the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD), except for public order, land and police, possessed exclusive powers in relation to all other entries in state and concurrent lists. The AAP government had said that since the law rules out the LG’s discretion on all matters that fall within the purview of the elected government, there was no occasion for him to differ or have an opinion on these matters.
The apex court had on December 14 observed that the Delhi government should have some powers otherwise it cannot function while hearing the appeals of the city government. On September 9, the apex court had refused to grant an interim stay on the verdict of the Delhi High Court of August 4 last year.