The Aam Aadmi Party on Thursday claimed a huge victory after a five-judge Supreme Court Bench ruled that the Delhi government had control over IAS officers, all services except land, police and law and order in India’s national capital.
The five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha unanimously ruled that the ‘legislative power of NCT Delhi under Entry 41 would extend to IAS and it shall control them even if they are not recruited by the NCT Delhi.’
“However, it would not extend to the services which comes under land, law and order and police. Lieutenant Governor (LG) shall be bound by the decision of NCT Delhi over services apart from land, police and law and order,” the top court said in its order.
According to the Bar and Bench website, the court explained its order by emphasising that the ‘LG shall exercise powers under the administrative role as entrusted by the President.’
“Executive administration can only extend to matters which fall outside the scope of the legislative assembly…and it cannot mean administration over entire NCT Delhi. Otherwise, the purpose of having a separate elected body in Delhi will be rendered futile. Democratically elected government shall have control over its officers. If a democratically elected government is not allowed to control its officers and hold them to account, then its responsibility towards the legislature and public is diluted. If officers are not responding to the government, the collective responsibility is diluted. If officers feel they are insulated from the elected government, they feel they are not accountable,” the Bench said.
Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal-led government and the office of the Lieutenant Governor have been locked in a prolonged legal battle for many years over the administrative control of India’s national capital. Unlike other union territories in India, Delhi also has an assembly comprising 70 elected representatives from different political parties.
Claiming victory, Kejriwal tweeted, “Heartfelt thanks to the Hon’ble Supreme Court for doing justice to the people of Delhi. With this decision, the pace of development of Delhi will increase manifold. Democracy won.”
The court had reserved its judgment on the matter on 18 January this year.