Delhi not a 'State', L-G bound by the aid and advice of NCT govt: SC Bench rules in a majority judgment

A five-judge Constitution Bench delivered its verdict on the Delhi govt.’s appeal challenging the HC judgment holding the L-G as the administrative head of the Capital

The Supreme Court has pronounced its verdict on the ongoing tussle between the Centre and the democratically elected Arvind Kejriwal government over who wields the power to administer and govern the national capital.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in a majority judgment, ruled that Delhi government has power in all areas except land, police and public order and the Lt. Governor is bound by the aid and advice of the NCT govt in areas other than those exempted.

Our Legal Correspondent Krishnadas Rajagopal reports from the Supreme Court.
Here are the updates:

Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken says: "Now that the Supreme Court has made it all clear, there should be no excuses, just development for Delhi. Kejriwal government and L-G had been kicking around Delhiites like a football. They should stop it now and get to work."

Welcoming the verdict, CPI(M) chief Sitaram Yechury tweets: "The role of LGs and Governors and their misuse has been brought into sharp focus by today’s judgement. BJP’s charade of cooperative federalism and in reality destroying our federal structure is condemnable. LGs/Governors cannot usurp rights of an elected state government."

Big victory for people of Delhi: Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal has tweeted:

AAP Delhi spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj, hugs Nagendar Sharma, Media advisor to the Chief Minister, after the verdict.

AAP Delhi spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj, hugs Nagendar Sharma, Media advisor to the Chief Minister, after the verdict.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, welcoming the verdict, equated the verdict with the party's landslide win in the Delhi elections. "67/3 was the historic decision of the people of Delhi. Today, the Honourable Supreme Court has delivered an important verdict," Mr. Sisodia tweeted in Hindi. On behalf of the people of Delhi, I thank the Honourable Supreme Court for declaring the people as real power, he added.

Mr. Sisodia also said the party's fight for statehood will continue.

Concurrence not needed: Justice Ashok Bhushan

The five-judge Bench has adhered to Supreme Court's nine judge Bench decision of 1996 in NDMC versus State of Punjab to hold that Delhi is not a State but 'special'.

Justice Ashok Bhushan, too, in a separate opinion says the L-G cannot send every difference of opinion to President.

The L-G needs to be only informed of NCT government's decision. There is no need of his concurrence, Justice Bhushan states.

Elected govt, not L-G, has substantive powers: Justice Chandrachud

Collective responsibility means govt speaks in one voice to the people whose aspirations the govt reflects, says Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, while delivering his verdict

Real authority to take decisions lies in the elected govt. This is the meaning of 'aid and advice'. Titular head has to act in accordance to aid and advice, Justice Chandrachud says.

The real power must lie in the elected representatives in a democracy. They owe responsibility to the legislature. But balance has to be struck considering the special status of the Delhi and fundamental concerns as Delhi is the National Capital, he further says.

Elected representatives would be reduced to a cipher if 'any matter' in Art 239AA (4) is interpreted as every matter of governance. This Constitutional Court would be doing disservice if an elected govt is reduced to a mere form without substance, Justice Chandrachud says.

The difference of opinion between the Lieutinent Governor and the NCT government should not be contrived but substantive. The L-G should remember that it is not he but the elected govt who has substantive powers: Justice Chandrachud

The role of the L-G is not to supplant the constitutional role of the NCT govt but to help. He need to bother only about issues of national importance, Justice Chandrachud says in his judgement.

There is no independent authority on the L-G to take decisions except in matters under Article 239 or those outside the purview of the NCT govt, Justice Chandrachud rules.

First reaction

The Aam Aadmi Party appears to be happy with the verdict. The party's national spokesperson Rahav Chadha tweeted: "Government of Delhi has been restored. Democracy in Delhi has been restored. Democratic rights of people of Delhi have been restored. Thank you, SC."

'L-G's concurrence not required'

Decision of the Delhi govt need only to be communicated to Lt. Governor, this does not mean L-G's concurrence is required, say Justices Dipak Misra, A.K. Sikri and A.M. Khanwilkar in majority judgment of Constitution Bench

The L-G cannot without applying his mind refer every difference of opinion between him and Delhi govt to the President. The L-G is an administrator in a limited sense and is not a Governor. The L-G is bound by the aid and advice of the NCT govt in areas other than those exempted, the CJI says.

The Bench also asks the Lt. Governor and the Delhi government to work harmoniously.

Delhi not a State: CJI

The National Capital Territory of Delhi does not have the status of a 'State', say the Chief Justice of India, while delivering the verdict.

It is a class apart, Justice Dipak Misra says.

The Union has exclusive executive powers over land, police and public order. All other areas Delhi govt has power, the judgment by the CJI reads.

Any matter in Article 239AA (4) does not mean every matter, he further says.

The L-G can only refer differences of opinion under Article 239AA (4) to President only in "exceptional matters". This is an exception not the general rule. He has to act in the spirit of constitutional trust and morality, the CJI says.

Source - TH 

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