The national capital belongs to all citizens of India and not just to those residing in Delhi, the Centre today told the Supreme Court.
The national capital belongs to all citizens of India and not just to those residing in Delhi, the Centre today told the Supreme Court. Asserting its supremacy in administering the national capital territory, the Centre, locked in a legal battle with the Delhi government over the issue, said it would be “undemocratic” to say that the legislative assembly of Delhi would have the same powers as vested with the Centre. Maintaining that Delhi was a union territory and not a state, the Centre told a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the aid and advice of council of ministers of Delhi was not binding on the Lieutenant Governor (LG).
The top court is hearing a clutch of appeals filed by the AAP government challenging Delhi High Court’s verdict holding LG as the administrative head of the national capital. “The national capital belongs to the citizens of India. They (Delhi governmment) say we are an elected government. Union of India is also an elected government. It (Union) has the supremacy so far as Delhi legislative assembly is concerned,” Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the Centre, said. He told the bench, which also comprised Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, that Delhi was accorded special status among the union territories but it has not got entry as a state in the states’ list.
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“A union territory remains a union territory even if it has a legislative assembly. A union territory cannot be in the list of states under the Constitution,” he said. Singh argued that it would be “undemocratic to say that the legislative assembly of Delhi will have the same power as the Union of India has”. The law officer also told the bench that “disharmony” was created first and then “they (Delhi government) say please allow us to have harmony”. “The national capital belongs to the nation. How can anybody say that it is only for the people of Delhi,” he said during the arguments, which would continue tomorrow. Without taking names, he also said “they say we will decide whether January 26 parade will go on or not in Delhi”.
Regarding Delhi government’s contention that it should have the authority with regard to appointment and transfer of employees working in its departments, Singh said over Rs 4,000 crore was going from the union budget to give pension to retired employees of the Delhi government. He also argued that Article 239AA of the Constitution, which deals with power and status of Delhi, was a “complete code” in itself. Dealing with the contention regarding employees of the all-India services, Singh said the Delhi government was right when they say there should not be “two masters”, but it should also consider that the master in this issue is the President of India. The law officer said Parliament has made it clear that Delhi was a union territory and there was no doubt about it.
During the hearing, the apex court observed that several senior advocates have argued the matter on behalf of the Delhi government but there were some “conflicting submissions”. “In a constitutional matter, there is no question of concession,” the bench said. The Centre had yesterday argued that Delhi government was empowered to take care of daily utilities of the national capital but the real administrative powers were vested with the Centre and the President. The Delhi government has accused the LG of making a “mockery of democracy”, saying he was either taking decisions of an elected government or substituting them without having any power.