Delhi power tussle: Administration of national capital can't be left to city govt alone, Centre tells Supreme Court
In July, the Supreme Court had held that Delhi cannot be given the status of a state, but the lieutenant-governor has to act on the aid and advice of the elected government.
New Delhi: The administration of Delhi cannot be left to the Delhi government alone, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Wednesday, emphasising that the city has an "extraordinary" position by the virtue of being the the country's capital.
The Centre told a bench comprising justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan that a five-judge constitution bench of the apex court had categorically held that Delhi cannot be accorded the status of a state.
A five-judge constitution bench had on 4 July laid down the broad parameters for governance of the national capital, which has witnessed a power struggle between the Centre and the Delhi government since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power in 2014.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the counsel appearing for the Centre said one of the basic issues was that whether the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) has the legislative and executive powers as far as services were concerned.
"The constitution bench has categorically said that a Union Territory and a state can not be equated. Article 239AA (which deals with the powers and status of Delhi) has been carved out as an independent machinery. The court has said that GNCTD has the power besides on three fronts (public order, police and land)," the Centre's counsel said.
"Delhi has an extraordinary position as it is the capital of the country," the counsel told the bench. He said being the national capital, Delhi houses several institutions of vital importance like Parliament and Supreme Court, and that foreign diplomats also reside in the city.
"So its (Delhi) administration cannot be left to a state or a Union Territory," the lawyer said during the arguments, which will continue on 25 September.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government told the bench that they have executive power to constitute a commission of inquiry.
"We are not arguing that you (court) hold Delhi as a state under the Constitution. We have to see the purpose of the Commission of Inquiry Act. We are not arguing something outlandish. The power exists undeniably to constitute a Commission of Inquiry," the Delhi government's counsel said.
On 18 July, the AAP government had told the apex court that its functioning was "completely paralysed" and it cannot order transfer or posting of officers, despite the constitution bench verdict on the national capital's administration.
The constitution bench, in its judgement, had clarified that issues regarding various notifications issued by the Delhi government in exercise of its administrative and legislative powers would be dealt with separately by an appropriate smaller bench.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had been at loggerheads with incumbent LG Anil Baijal and his predecessor Najeeb Jung. Kejriwal had accused both of them of preventing the functioning of his government at the behest of the Centre.
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