In a setback to the AAP government in Delhi, the Supreme Court on Thursday gave a split view on whether the Centre or the Delhi government has the power to control administrative services like appointments, transfer and posting of bureaucrats in the capital.
Delivering a split verdict on the contentious issue of division of powers, a Bench comprising Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan referred the issue to a larger bench. However, both the judges unanimously agreed that the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) will have control over the Anti-Corruption Bureau, as already notified by the Centre, and the power to appoint inquiry commissions would also rest with the central government.
The Bench upheld as “legal” the Ministry of Home Affairs notifications of May 21, 2015 and July 23, 2015, authorising the LG to exercise powers in relation to services and directed the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) police not to take cognisance of offences against Central government officials. It said the notifications were limited to the officials of the Central government under the Prevention of Corruption Act and were “perfectly in order.”
Justice Sikri, the lead judge on the Bench, held that transfers and posting of officers of and above the rank of joint secretary level would lie under the purview of the L-G while the Delhi government will have the right to appoint public prosecutors, to decide land revenue matters and also to appoint or deal with electricity commission or board and other officers. Justice Bhushan held a contrary view by ruling that the Delhi government has no power at all over administrative services.
Justice Sikri said the view of L-G would prevail in case of difference of opinions for matters relating other bureaucrats.
He said as far as the DANICS (Delhi Andamans Nicobar Islands Civil Service) cadre was concerned, the files could be processed through the council of ministers, led by the chief minister, to the LG. “In case of difference of opinion, the view of LG should prevail,” the lead judge said.