In a landmark judgement for CM Arvind Kejriwal, the Supreme Court said Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal does not have independent decision-making powers and is bound to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
It’s a big win that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has claimed after the Supreme Court verdict on the power tussle between the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor. In a landmark judgement for CM Arvind Kejriwal, the Supreme Court said Lieutenant Governor 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”.
The decision is a major victory for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP government which has been in a constant tug of war with LG Anil Baijal over the power wielded by the two branches of the executive. Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that this is a big victory for Delhi people. “A big victory for the people of Delhi…a big victory for democracy,” Kejriwal said. Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia also termed the verdict as a ‘landmark decision’.
Here are the top takeaways from the SC Judgement:
1. The Five-member Supreme Court bench held that Delhi’s LG Anil Baijal has no independent decision-making power. The SC Bench said that LG Baijal cannot act as an obstructionist. The apex court mentioned that LG has not been entrusted with independent powers, and hence cannot take decisions on his own.
2. Lt. Governor is bound by aid and advice of Council of Ministers, subject to the provision of Article 239 AA to refer to the matter to President. He cannot act independently and has to act as per aid and advice of Council of Ministers. The Supreme Court bench pointed that LG must realise that council of ministers are answerable to people. Hence, LG must bear in mind that it is not he but the Council of Ministers which will take decisions, said Justice Chandrachud.
3. Lt. Governor should not act in a mechanical manner and stall decisions of council of ministers. 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.
4. Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that the relationship between Centre and State government should be healthy where the LG must work harmoniously with the state and the LG and council of ministers have to be constantly aligned. LG must work harmoniously with council of ministers and attempt should be made to settle the difference of opinion with discussions, said CJI Misra.
5. Lt Governor cannot refer all matters to the President. LG can refer issues on difference of opinion to President only in exceptional matters and not as the general rule, said SC judgement.
6. The five-judge SC 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. No independent authority vested with Delhi LG to take independent decisions, said SC.
7. The Supreme Court said that except for three issues, including law and order, police and land, Delhi government has the power to legislate and govern on other subjects. Justice Ashok Bhushan, in a concurring verdict, held that all routine matters do not require consonance of LG.
8. On Aam Aadmi Party’s demand to grant full statehood to Delhi, the Supreme Court made it clear that the demand is not possible. “Delhi cannot have full statehood in view of an earlier nine-judge judgment”, said SC verdict.