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Government of NCT Delhi v Union of India

CITATION: (2018) 8 SCC 501


COURT: The Supreme Court of India

APPELLANT: Government of NCT Delhi

RESPONDENT: Union of India

BENCH: C.J. Dipak Misra, J. A.K. Sikri, J. A.M. Khanwilkar, J. D.Y. Chandrachud & J. Ashok Bhushan


The Government of NCT (National Capital Domain) of Delhi v. Union of India case has risen as a noteworthy legitimate fight in India’s sacred scene. It rotates around the control battle between the chosen government of Delhi and the Union government, raising pivotal questions with respect to federalism and sacred arrangements. The case stemmed from a longstanding debate over the dispersion of powers and duties between the Delhi government and the central government.


The Central government and the Delhi government disagreed on how much administrative authority each had when it came to managing services like official transfers. The question centers on the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi’s administrative authority given its unique status as a UT. There was a dispute in February 2015 between Arvind Kejriwal (CM) and Najeeb Jung, the lieutenant governor (LG) of Delhi. After LC stated that he was not required to forward files pertaining to land, public order, and law enforcement to the chief minister’s office, the Delhi Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) ought not to look into personnel of the central government. The LG deemed the CM’s directive to all bureaucrats to disregard written and verbal orders without his consent to be unconstitutional.

All inquiries made by the Delhi government without the approval of the Lieutenant Governors were deemed unlawful after the Delhi High Court determined that the LC had total authority over all matters pertaining to the NCT of Delhi. This ruling was contested before the Supreme Court.


1.Whether the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi endowed with legislative and executive authority over “services” under Schedule VII, List II of the Indian Constitution?

2.Whether the officials of the various “services,” such the IAS and IPS, who have been sent to Delhi by the Union of India, are subject to the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi’s administrative authority?


State employees need to answer the public, according to the Delhi government of the National Capital Territory. They argued that the people who elected public officials were at the top of the accountability chain, followed by ministries, the legislature, and finally the electorate.

It was contended that the only standard by which a civil servant could be considered qualified to carry out their duties was the competency of the Delhi government. Consequently, the central government had no legitimate interest in overseeing the civil service. The Delhi government emphasized that the National Capital Territory of Delhi has the executive ability to pass laws on matters falling under its legislative jurisdiction according to the provisions of Article 239AA.The government of Delhi contended that national capitals in federal systems all over the world, irrespective of the model they employed to allocate authority between the federal and local governments, did not foresee a situation in which the local government was unable to select and manage government employees and civil servants and to oversee their daily operations.


One of the central government’s main duties, according to them, was to manage Delhi. Given that Delhi was the national capital and of strategic importance, it was believed that the LG’s authority was essential to maintain a balance between the elected administration and the central government.

It was contended that, as opposed to merely complying, the LG ought to have the power to examine and accept the choices made by the elected government. The LG also provided protection against possible abuses of power and contempt for constitutional rules. The central government contended that restrictions apply to the legislative authority granted by Article 239AA to the Legislative Assembly of Delhi. It said that the plan outlined in Article 239AA required cooperation. It said that the plan outlined in Article 239AA required the elected government and the LG to participate in a coordinated and cooperative decision-making process.


In this case, D.Y. Chandrachud dissented from the majority of the judges’ decision. He believes that the Chief Minister, not the Lieutenant Governor, is the executive head of the Delhi government. However, he added, Delhi’s position differs from the other union territories. By statute, Parliament may deviate from Article 239(1), which designates the Lieutenant Governor as the executive leader of a union territory. A union territory and a union territory with a legislature are two different things. In the former, the people are represented by a local government in the event of a UT with a legislature, but the Union retains total authority. Statesmanship, which depends on persons in positions of decision-making, has an impact on the institutions of a democracy. J. Chandrachud underlines that it would be an error to Undemocracy is a basic structure which cannot be infringed as ruled in Kihoto Hollohan v. Zachillhu case. By establishing an object of a democratic form of government, Article 239AA was enacted. In a Union Territory, the Parliament has the authority to designate the duties of the UT Legislature. Article 239AA’s direct election regulation represents the participatory system of governance. Unlike a state, which has sole authority over the State list, a union territory does not have a legislature. The UT government may enact laws pertaining to the State list, with some limitations set down by the Parliament. Consider democracy to be a political system or the rule of the majority. According to J. Chandrachud, the help and advice principle does not apply to subjects over which the LG has sole authority or exercises his discretion; rather, it only applies when the Legislature has the authority to enact laws. His viewpoint was that the executive branch should be in charge of a representational system of government. It was decided that the LG’s autonomy to act breaches the fundamental tenet of 239AA, which is representative governance. Furthermore, since the Central Government will be the only entity acting, the legislature will be useless if every issue is brought before the Union. Before making the reference, the differences of opinion should be addressed and resolved. The Legislature should not have its authority reduced because it has been granted. To adhere to the checks and balances premise, the balance of powers must be preserved.


The ruling emphasizes democratic principles. It supports the right of citizens to select their own representatives, especially in the case of a Union territory, by stating that authority should belong to those who are chosen. The ruling provides an interpretation of Article 239AA in a way that is favorable to representative democracy. While it benefits the populace in certain ways, it cannot be sustained in cases involving union territory since the Center has a specific duty to interfere. Here, a thorough historical analysis is conducted to determine Delhi’s current position. In addition to what the words say, many legislations are thought to give a deeper comprehension of the provisions. A complete and distinct opinion has been expressed here, and in the judgment that follows, the judges discuss the same issue. There could be additional questions to be answered and it could be done precisely. There are some issues that are crucial to the case but are not addressed in the ruling.


There will be additional lawsuits as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling.  It seems misguided to place such a high value on the constitutional officials in charge of running Delhi. The parties’ ability to interpret Article 239 AA (4) in the Delhi administration is now up to them.45 The ruling solely addresses constitutional principles.  It leaves out any discussion of practical application, which could result in additional lawsuits.46 Thus, despite the fact that the verdict has been rendered, there is still a great deal of hostility between the Delhi administration and the LG.


  1. SCC Online
  1. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/196253171/#:~:text=The%20judgment%20of%20the%20majority,Legislative%20Assembly%20has%20been%20excluded%E2%80%9D.
  2. https://thewire.in/law/supreme-court-delhi-government-union-centre

This Article is written by shaista gazia student of Ajeenkya D.Y patil university ; Intern at Legal Vidhiya.

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