Delhi being a Union Territory, its govt can’t claim power & privileges of state govt, Centre tells Supreme Court

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NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday told Supreme Court that the AAP government could not claim power and privileges of a state government as Delhi was a Union Territory and claimed that out of 650 files received by the Lt Governor in the last three years, there was a difference of opinion on only three cases.

The Centre accused the Delhi government of raking up a controversy to create disharmony among various institutions in its face-off with the L-G and the Centre over powers that it laid claim to but did not enjoy.

Appearing before a constitution bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, additional solicitor general Maninder Singh contended that AAP regime could not claim powers in violation of a constitutional scheme that set out a vertical division of power between the city government and Centre for administering the capital.

Refuting allegations levelled by bevy of senior lawyers appearing for the NCT government that the Centre is stalling day-to-day decision-making with the LG sitting on files, the ASG informed the bench that there was a difference of opinion in only three odd cases.

“They are admitting that it (Delhi) is not a state but claim power and privileges of a state. How is it possible? If it is not a state then it cannot claim privileges of a state. It can never become a state and its government cannot be said to be a state government. There is no exclusive executive power given to them,” Singh contended while referring to the NCT government’s submission in which it did not press for statehood for Delhi.

Maninder Singh told the bench that representatives of the Delhi government were present in all meetings convened by the L-G and the allegation that the latter was responsible for it not being able to perform its functions was baseless. He said the Constitution provided a harmonious scheme for balance of power among different institutions but the NCT government had created disharmony.

Singh said there was a conscious decision by constitution makers to differentiate between state and UT and the latter cannot seek powers under various provisions if these had not been specifically mentioned.

Earlier, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade concluded arguments of behalf of the AAP government and submitted that the government was empowered to rule Delhi and the Centre could not take away this power. He said the L-G should not have any role in the day-to-day administration in a democratic form of government . I am a full fledged government with elected Chief Minister and my executive power draws from Article 239AA(4). There is no other provision which says that Centre is to exercise executive power. Article 239AA is a special law while Article 239 is a general provision and the special law must have primacy,” he said. Article 239 AA(4) provides a special provision for Delhi and says there shall be a council of ministers with CM at the head to aid and advise the L-G in matters with respect to which the Assembly has power to make laws, except in so far as he is, by or under any law, required to act in his discretion. Article 239 talks about administration of UTs.  The Court is hearing a batch of petitions filed by AAP government challenging Delhi high Court’s verdict which had held that primacy in administering the affairs of Delhi rests with the L-G, and by extension, the Centre.

 

In its 194-page order, the HC had said it was of “the considered view that it is mandatory under the Constitutional scheme to communicate the decision of the Council of Ministers to the Lt Governor even in relation to the matters in respect of which power to make laws has been conferred on the Legislative Assembly of NCTD and an order thereon can be issued only where the Lt Governor does not take a different view”.