Delhi govt vs Centre: Elected government has power over services, L-G duty-bound to comply, says Supreme Court
The Delhi government scored a major victory today in its arduous power-struggle with the BJP-ruled Centre as the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal-led dispensation, stating that the AAP regime has legislative and executive power over services— including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), except law and order, police and land—and the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) is duty-bound to comply with the elected government’s decision in this matter.
In a unanimous verdict, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Apex court which comprises of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud along with Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P S Narasimha, ruled that the Delhi government must have control over services and the Lieutenant Governor is bound by its decision.
The bench observed that the Union Territory of Delhi has ‘sui generis’ (unique) character and has legislative and executive power over services and stated that if a democratically elected government’s responsibility towards the legislature and the electorate becomes diluted if it was denied control over its officers and the power to hold them to account.
The Supreme Court bench ruled that the L-G exercise powers under the administrative role as entrusted by the President, however, his executive powers can only extend to matters falling outside the scope of the legislative assembly, adding that the it does not mean administration over entire Delhi otherwise the purpose of having an elected government in the national capital stands defeated.
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The bench further stated that a democratically elected government shall have control over its officers and the power to hold them to account.
It noted that the officers will feel as if they aren’t accountable to anyone if they sense that the elected government has no power over them.
Observing that even though the Capital Territory of Delhi (NCTD) is not a full-fledged state and remains a federal entity, the top court stressed that it must be ensured that the Centre does not take over the governing power of the states, adding that the Union government’s power over certain subjects of the Concurrent List cannot be such that the functioning of the State is affected.
Earlier, on January 18, the Apex court had reserved its order in the plea filed by the Aam Aadmi Party dispensation following a split verdict by a two-judge bench on February 14, 2019.
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