The Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi and Centre have been at the loggerheads ever since Arvind Kejriwal took over as the Chief Minister of Delhi in February 2015.
The Supreme Court on Monday admitted the Aap Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s plea seeking constitution of a larger bench to decide issue of who controls services in Delhi. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi told the Delhi government counsel that it will look into the matter and pass an order.
The decision to move the top court comes a month after a division bench of Justice AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan delivered a split verdict on the contentious issue of control of services in Delhi. In its order, the top court had ruled that Lieutenant Governor is the administrative head of Delhi which is a Union Territory, meaning the central government will have direct control in few matters.
Out of six issues before the top court, the judgement favoured the L-G in three and the Delhi government in two. On the control of services, the verdict was split. While Justice Bhushan favoured services being completely out of the Delhi’s government’s purview, Justice Sikri noted that Centre has the right over transfer and postings of Joint Secretary and above rank officials, while the powers over the rest lie with the Delhi government.
The Supreme Court’s verdict came as a big blow to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who has been at the loggerheads with the Centre ever since he took charge in 2015. Kejriwasl has been arguing that Delhi government has equal powers akin to other states but the top court made it clear that Delhi is a UT and the L-G is it administrative head.
The judges were divided over administrative services. Justice Bhushan said that the Delhi government has no power at all over administrative services. However, Justice Sikri ruled that the transfer or posting of officers in top order such as joint director and above can only be done by the Centre and the view of L-G would prevail in case of difference of opinion. He also suggested constituting a separate board for transfer and posting of Grade-3 and Grade-4 officers.