It’s a big win for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Hon’ble Supreme Court define the boundaries of power between the Lieutenant-Governor (LG) and Delhi Government by stating that the LG cannot interfere in each and every decision of the Delhi Government, and that the LG of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers of the NCT government.
The judgment was delivered by The Constitution Bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan. Three separate judgments are delivered by the Bench, Justices AK Sikri and AM Khanwilkar agree with the judgment of delivered by Chief Justice Deepak Misra, at the same time as Justices Chandrachud and Bhushan wrote separate but concurring judgments.
The authority of LG to differ from the Delhi Government and make reference to President was only with respect to exceptional matters mentioned under Article 239AA(4) of the Constitution of India. These exceptional matters are related to land, police and public order. The judgment emphasized that though decisions of the Government have to be communicated to the LG, there is no need to obtain the consent in all matters of LG.
Chief Justice Deepak Mishra in his judgment stated that the Court must adopt an explanation of Constitution which is in accord with democratic principles. All three organs of State must stay embedded in the Constitution. Decisions should be in accordance with the spirit of Constitution.
Justice Chandrachud while giving concurring judgment stated that actual authority to take decisions to lie with the elected government and that supposed head has to act as per the order and suggestions of the elected government. The LG must accept in mind that it is not the Lieutenant-Governor but the Council of Ministers who take substantive decisions. Also, in cases where matter is referred to President on the decision of President, the government cannot act independently.
Justice Ashok Bhushan, in his separate but concurring judgment, said that upon changing of time one has to understand the Constitution of that basis. It is not mentioned in the Constitution that consent of LG must be obtained in all matters, a view of the elected government has to be appreciated.
The verdict of the Constitution Bench came on the Kejriwal government’s challenge to the 2016 Delhi High Court ruling, which affirmed the LG as the ‘administrative head’, not bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. After seven months, the Apex Court put to rest the power tussle between the Delhi Government, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at its helm, and the Centre, wielding authority through the Lieutenant.
The case pertains to the explanation of Article 239AA of the Constitution of India. Article 239AA states for special provisions with respect to the capital. The peculiar status of the NCT and the powers of the Delhi Legislative Assembly and the Lieutenant Governor and their interplay were debated in the case.
There will not be any cognizance of offences against officers, employees, and functionaries of the Central government by Anti-Corruption Branch Police Station. The AAP government claims that the notification which was issued by the Central Government in Mat 2015 was a gross abuse of power and ultra vires the constitutional scheme. On which the AAP government challenge the same in the Delhi High Court.
The High Court ruled against the Delhi government, holding that Delhi continues to be a Union Territory and that the LG of Delhi is not bound to act only on the “aid and advice” of the Delhi Legislative Assembly.