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In what seems to be a big win for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Supreme Court today unanimously ruled that the Lieutenant Governor of NCT of Delhi is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers of the NCT government.
The judgment was delivered by a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
The Bench delivered three separate judgments – Justices Sikri and Khanwilkar concurred with the judgment of CJI Misra, while Justices Chandrachud and Bhushan wrote separate but concurring judgments.
Here is a summary of what the Supreme Court held:
CJI Misra’s judgment
Justice Chandrachud’s judgment
Justice Bhushan’s judgment:
A battery of Senior Counsel appeared in the matter. While the NCT government was represented by Senior Counsel Indira Jaising, Gopal Subramanium, P Chidambaram, Rajeev Dhavan and Shekhar Naphade, the Central government was represented by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh and Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra.
The case pertains to the interpretation of Article 239AA of the Constitution of India. Article 239AA provides for special provisions with respect to the capital. The peculiar status of the National Capital Territory and the powers of the Delhi Legislative Assembly and the Lieutenant Governor and their interplay were debated in the case.
The case itself has its genesis in a notification issued by the Central government in May 2015. The said notification stated that,
“In accordance with the provisions contained in article 239 and sub-clause (a) of clause (3) of 239AA, the President hereby directs that –
subject to his control and further orders, the Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, shall in respect of matters connected with ‘Public Order’, ‘Police’, ‘Land’ and ‘Services’ as stated hereinabove, exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the Central Government, to the extent delegated to him from time to time by the President.
Provided that the Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi may, in his discretion, obtain the views of the Chief Minister of the National Capital Territory of Delhi in regard to the matter of ‘Services’ wherever he deems it appropriate.”
It also stated that the Anti-Corruption Branch Police Station shall not take any cognizance of offences against officers, employees and functionaries of the Central government. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government claimed that this notification was a gross abuse of power and ultra vires the constitutional scheme. It, therefore, challenged the same in the Delhi High Court.
The High Court ruled against the Delhi government, holding that Delhi continues to be a Union Territory, and that the Lt. Governor of Delhi is not bound to act only on the “aid and advice” of the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
This led to the appeal in Supreme Court.
Read the timeline here.
Read the judgment: