Delhi enjoys special status among UTs but it is not a state, Centre tells AAP govt

New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday opposed the AAP government's submissions in the Supreme Court saying Delhi has been accorded "special status" among the union territories under the Constitution but that does not make it a state.

The Centre, which is locked in a legal battle with the Delhi government on the issue of who enjoys supremacy in administering the national capital territory, commenced its arguments before a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

 Delhi enjoys special status among UTs but it is not a state, Centre tells AAP govt

Representational image. AP

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the Centre, referred to the constitutional provisions and said that Delhi enjoyed a "special status" among the union territories but this did not elevate the national capital to the status of a state as defined under the Constitution.

Accusing the Arvind Kejriwal-led government of demanding "uncontrolled, vertically divided executive powers", the law officer said, "when the power is not vested in you, how can you exercise it? To spend money, you have to have some in your pocket."

He told the bench, which also comprised Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, 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.

Singh distinguished Delhi's position in relation to other states and said the national capital territory does not figure in any of the provisions which deal with the powers of states.

Maintaining that Delhi cannot be considered a state, he said doing it would lead to an "inevitable chaos".

"What is not provided in the Constitution specifically cannot be conferred on the Union Territory of Delhi by mere interpretation of the Constitution", he said, adding that the Constitution was silent on awarding co-extensive executive and legislative powers to the Delhi government.

The law officer said the Delhi government was demanding treatment as a full-fledged state despite the fact that it was a union territory with some special powers.

He quoted jurist HM Seervai and accused Delhi government of creating "disharmony" and seeking harmonious construction of the executive and legislative powers under Article 239A of the Constitution, which deals with power and status of Delhi.

Singh vehemently opposed the contentions of several senior lawyers who had argued on behalf of Delhi government, for using terms like 'viceroy' and 'suprema lex' for the office of the Lieutenant Governor (LG).

"If you have to treat a union territory as a state, then the Constitution must provide for it or say so. Unless there is a specific mention, you cannot read state into it. It will result in inevitable chaos", the law officer said during the arguments which would continue on Wednesday.

He also refuted the allegations of Delhi government that the Lieutenant Governor sits over the files.

Earlier in the day, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the Delhi government, concluded his submissions saying the Lieutenant Governor has no role to play and has to act as per the aid and advice of the council of ministers.

In case of differences, the Lieutenant Governor was authorised to remand the matter to the president, he said.

The top court is hearing a clutch of appeals filed by the AAP government challenging Delhi High Court's verdict holding that the Lieutenant Governor was the administrative head of the national capital.

The Delhi government has accused the Lieutenant Governor of making a "mockery of democracy" and said he was either taking decisions of an elected government or substituting them without having any power.

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Updated Date: Nov 21, 2017 20:33:57 IST