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 Delhi government cannot have “exclusive” executive powers as it would be against national interests, the Centre today told the Supreme Court. Referring to the report of a committee and several apex court judgements, the Centre submitted before a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that a union territory (UT) cannot be raised to the level of a state under the Constitution and it has to be administered by the President of India. “Designation does not change status. A union territory (Delhi) remains a union territory and it is not equivalent to a state. The Lieutenant Governor is not equivalent to Governors of states,” Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, arguing for the Centre, told the bench which also included Justices comprised Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
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. Singh said every UT was to be governed by the President and the power of the President does not diminish with regard to Delhi. “No exclusive executive power is with the Delhi government and granting exclusive power would not be in the national interest,” the law officer said while referring to the report of a panel that had dealt with the powers which can be conferred to the local government of the national capital. The bench then referred to the constitutional provision and said that neither the Lieutenant Governor, nor the council of minister can take decisions on their own. Citing various judgements to buttress his submissions, Singh said unlike states, the LG was not bound by the aid and advice of council of ministers and the ultimate authority lied with the President. “The arguments from the other side (AAP government) has been that though I am a UT, but raise my level to the status of a state. This cannot be done,” he said. The advancing of arguments remained inconclusive and would resume tomorrow.
Earlier, the central government had said the Constitution did not provide “vertical division” of powers between the Centre and Delhi which enjoys a special status among all UTs. It had referred to the Constitution, the 1991 Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act and the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules to drive home the point that the President, the union government and the LG had supremacy over the city dispensation in administering the national capital. The Centre had maintained that the national capital belonged to all Indians and not just to those residing in Delhi, while also arguing that Article 239AA of Constitution, which deals with power and status of Delhi, was a “complete code” in itself.
Parliament has made it clear that Delhi was a union territory and there was no doubt about it and the city 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, it had said. On the other hand, the Delhi government had 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.