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Is Delhi the National Capital of India? Constitution doesn't say so, argues Arvind Kejriwal govt in SC

The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi has been engaged in a constant power tussle with the Centre ever since it assumed charge. The issue escalated on Wednesday in the Supreme Court, when the Delhi government raised a rather unusual argument: Has the Constitution of India or any law passed by Parliament declared Delhi as the National Capital of India?

According to The Times of India, the question was put across while the apex court was hearing pleas over who enjoys supremacy in governing the National Capital.

File image of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Getty Images

File image of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Getty Images

Arguing for the Delhi government, senior advocate Indira Jaising told a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan that there was no reference in the Indian Constitution or in any law stating that Delhi was the National Capital of India.

"Capital is not defined by any law. Tomorrow, the Centre can decide to move the capital to somewhere else. The Constitution also does not say the capital is to be Delhi. We know that the British moved the capital from Calcutta (Kolkata) to Delhi. There is National Capital Territory of Delhi Act but it does not constitute Delhi as the Capital of India," she said, as per the report.

She was arguing in favour of the Delhi government's demand for a clear division of executive powers between the state and the Centre.

At the moment, many areas of governance overlap in the capital. Jaising said that this was necessary in order to facilitate smooth functioning of the Delhi government as having "two captains of a ship" would lead to chaos.

According to an IndiaTV report, Jaising said: "Everything boils down to day-to-day administration. How can the Centre say that you (Delhi government) cannot have the executive power? I can understand this position of legislative powers."

She said that the court should not be guided by the nomenclature of Delhi as a Union Territory while interpreting Article 239AA and the executive powers of the Delhi government. "There should be no blurring of responsibilities between the state and the Centre," the report quoted her as saying.

The bench in its response, as per the Times of India report, said the Constitution provided for three different lists that enumerate the subjects on which the Centre and the states could legislate. "All states have to work in cooperation with the Centre. No legislation indicated a vertical division of executive power," it said.

The Supreme Court is hearing a batch of appeals filed by the AAP government challenging a Delhi High Court verdict holding the Lieutenant-Governor as the administrative head of the national capital territory.

The Delhi government had told the apex court on 2 February that it has exclusive executive powers in relation to matters falling within the purview of the Legislative Assembly and neither the Centre nor the president or the L-G could encroach on them.

The apex court had on 14 December last year observed that the Delhi government should have some powers, otherwise it cannot function. On 9 September last year, the apex court had refused to grant an interim stay on the 4 August verdict of the Delhi High Court.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Nov 15, 2017 13:02 PM

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