Finance Minister Arun Jaitley mentioned that although the apex court gives due importance to the opinion of the elected state government, it maintains the primacy of the central government in the larger interest of the national capital.
A day after the Supreme Court pronounced its verdict on the power tussle between Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley shared a detailed post on Facebook titled ‘What the Supreme Court has actually observed in the Delhi Government case?’. In the post, Arun Jaitley said that since several versions of the judgement have appeared in the public space, it is important for people to understand what exactly the Supreme Court order states.
Jaitley mentioned that although the apex court gives due importance to the opinion of the elected state government, it maintains the primacy of the central government in the larger interest of the national capital.
In a landmark judgement for CM Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday, the Supreme Court had said that LG Anil Baijal does not have independent decision-making powers, and is bound to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. The five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, also said that the LG cannot act as an “obstructionist”.
Today, in his blog post, Arun Jaitley explained the three issues dealt by the Supreme Court.
1. The Finance Minister clarified that Delhi is a Union Territory and part ‘C’ State, and hence, its power structure has to be separate and distinct. Some powers, including police, public order and land, were vested in the Central Government and several other residuary powers were vested in the elected State Government. They are, hence, subjected to the keen eye of the Central Government in rare cases where power was not being appropriately used. As per Article 239AA of the Constitution, it is the nature of a protector to safeguard the interests of the Union on matters of national interest in relation to the affairs of the National Capital Territory. Hence, Lieutenant Governor is a watchdog to protect the interests of the Union Territory.
2. In the Supreme Court’s opinion on the distribution of powers and authority between the state and central government, Aun Jaitley mentioned in his post that the SC has clearly observed that elected State government will have the executive and the legislative authority in relation to powers under List II & III of the Constitution. The Central Government simultaneously will also have authority to legislate in relation to these powers. However, if there is an exercise of power by the Central legislature in relation to these powers with respect to National Capital Territory of Delhi, it will override the authority of the Delhi State legislature.
3. Arun Jaitley wrote that even though the judgement in terms of the Constitution emphasises at the importance of elected State Government, but Delhi is a Union Territory makes its powers subservient to the Central Government. The Finance Minister said that the Supreme Court verdict has made it clear that the Delhi government has no police powers and, hence, it cannot set up an investigating agency to probe crimes committed in the past. He added that the SC has held categorically that Delhi cannot compare itself at par with other States and, therefore, any presumption that the administration of the UT cadre of services has been decided in favour of the Delhi Government would be wholly erroneous.
What was the SC decision over Arvind Kejriwal-LG Baijal tug of war?
On July 4, the five-member Supreme Court bench held that Delhi’s LG Anil Baijal has no independent decision-making power. The apex court mentioned that LG has not been entrusted with independent powers, and hence cannot take decisions on his own. The SC held that all decisions of council of ministers must be communicated to LG but that doesn’t mean concurrence of LG is required on all matters. The bench, in a unanimous verdict, held that real power vests with council of ministers as in cabinet form of governance, decision-making power rests with Council of Ministers.