With the Supreme Court verdict clarifying on the powers of the L-G and the Delhi government, schemes like the doorstep delivery of ration are expected to get a push.
Supreme Court verdict LATEST UPDATES: In a press conference, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said that the government was thankful to the judiciary.
Reacting to the judgment, which was termed a victory by the ruling AAP government, BJP's Sambit Patra said that he found it amusing that the party was celebrating the order, when clearly it hasn't studied it completely. He said the order only shows that the party's demand for full statehood is unconstitutional, and the court has advised against rationalising anarchism.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, while reacting to the Supreme Court's judgment said that action will be taken after due deliberation on the order. An official spokesperson said tha court's order will be followed.
The Delhi Cabinet ministers will meet at 4 pm to discuss "critical projects of public importance which were blocked so far." Since coming to power, AAP has accused the L-G of stalling several key schemes. With the Supreme Court verdict clarifying on the powers of the L-G and the Delhi government, schemes like the doorstep delivery of ration are expected to get a push.
The relevance of the Wednesday's Supreme Court's 5-judge Constitution Bench verdict on the division of powers between the Lieutenant Governor and an elected government in Delhi lies in its spirit and in substance, not in instances. The judgment is significant because it has for the first time led to interpretation of a Constitutional provision that lies at the core of governance of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
Prateek Chadha, one of the advocates who drafted the Delhi government's petition in the Supreme Court, said that the apex court ruling essentially means that the L-G has no power in respect of executive actions in Delhi. "First and foremost, that the decisions of the Delhi’s government cabinet will be binding on the L-G. The L-G has no power in respect of executive actions in Delhi. The only thing that he’s allowed to do is make a reference to the President of India in extraordinary cases which concern the central government and the federal structure of the Constitution. This is a big change from what was happening before the judgment which is that no decision could be made unless the L-G expressly agreed with the decision. The executive powers of the government of Delhi are co-extensive with the legislative powers of the government of Delhi, this means that Delhi will have the same executive and legislative powers as the government of any state in India with three exceptions – matters relating to land, police and public order. Since services is one of the subjects in the state list and the court has made it clear that with the three exceptions, all other subjects fall within the domain of the Delhi govt t legislate upon and make executive orders upon. It will follow that services will also be within the domain of the Delhi government."
After the Supreme Court ruling, Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi has called for a Cabinet meeting at 4 pm today and according to a few reports there is a reshuflle of the bureaucrats in the offing. Bureaucrats were in the centre of the power tussle between the L-G and the Delhi government.
If Kejriwal govt does decide to take a major decision on the posting of the bureaucrats it will be a strong statement by the chief minister who has been locked in a power-struggle with the Centre.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia welcomed the the Supreme Court verdict, which said that Delhi is not a full state and that the L-G has no independent power. Kejriwal will meet the ministers in the Delhi Cabinet at 4 pm on Wednesday.
The apex court further obsrved that the status of the L-G is not similar to that of the Governor of other states, while the Parliament has the power to make laws for Delhi on subjects in state and concurrent list, the elected government can also make laws on all subjects expect land, police and public order. If Parliament makes a law, the executive power of the state must conform to the law made by Parliament. The Supreme Court also observed that the L-G is bound by the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers to implement the President's decision.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave more power to the elected government in Delhi and limited the role of the L-G. “The Lieutenant Governor can't act in a mechanical manner and refer all decisions of the council of ministers to President. The L-G's role can't be obstructionist, he must work together with the council of ministers and respect their decisions,” Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said while reading out the verdict of the five-judge Constitutional bench. In addition to the CJI, the bench comprised Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
Reading out their judgment, a five-judge bench in a majority order said that the state and Union must be healthy, the two must collaborate and take decisions in consonance of the Constitution. He added that the L-G has to consult the Council of Ministers and cannot act independently unless written in the Constitution. He reiterated that the LG holds different powers from Governors of other states.
"L-G must work harmoniously work with elected government. L-G is the administrative head but he can't act as an obstructionist."
In a majority of three judges — CJI Dipak Misra, A K Sikri and A M Khanwilkar, the bench noted that the L-G can't interfere into every decision of the elected government. The L-G must work harmoniously with the state, the L-G and council of ministers have to be constantly aligned, noted the Supreme Court.
The Constitution of India mandates a federal balance between the State and the Centre,the Centre shall not usurp powers on areas within the dominion of state, the five-judge bench has noted. Delhi government does not have the status of a 'State', the CJI noted. The apex court also said that the L-G is bound by act and advise of council of ministers... "L-G can't act independently unless Constitution allows," observed the court.
CJI Dipak Misra has started reading out the judgment in the matter. In November 2017, the AAP government had argued in the Supreme Court that the actions of the Lt. Governor can't be an impediment to the day-to-day functioning of the government.
Ahead of the Supreme Court verdict on Wednesday over the power tussle in Delhi, AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj tweeted "reminders" against the Narendra Modi government. "AAP government was formed in February 2015. Three months later, Modi government brought this notification which took away 'services' from the AAP government. This means Sheila Dixit government had all control over her officers/employees, Kejriwal government was left with zero control," he said.
Will it be Delhi Chief Miniser Arvind Kejriwal or the Centre, represented by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal? The Supreme Court is most likely to pronounce its verdict on who controls the reins of power to administer Delhi.
A Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AK Sikri, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud, and Justice Ashok Bhushan had reserved the verdict on the contentious issue between the Centre and the AAP government on 6 December last year after hearing the matter for 15 days.
The Delhi government had moved the apex court to challenge a Delhi High Court verdict that held that the L-G held primacy over an elected government in the administration of Delhi.
Asserting that it had the executive powers on which it can aid and advice the L-G, the Kejriwal government had contended that an elected government can't be treated subservient to an overriding authority of the L-G. The Delhi government also contended that it was only in an emergency situation that the L-G can refer to the President the matters on which there are differences of opinion between the L-G and the elected government.
The Delhi government also argued that the constitutional provisions can be interpreted only to advance the goals of the Constitution and the people's democratic aspirations. On the other hand, the Centre contended that all executive powers to administer the national capital were vested in it and that it exercised the same through the L-G.
The Centre told the court that the "aid and advice" by the elected Delhi government was not binding on the L-G, as was the case with other states.
Even as the Centre sought to underline the pivotal position that the Lt Governor enjoys in the administration of Delhi, the apex court said that the L-G was expected to show "Constitutional statesmanship" in dealing with an elected government.