|8 SCC 501
|Date of Judgment
|4th July 2018
|The Supreme Court of India
|“Government of NCT Delhi”
|“Union of India”
|“C.J. Dipak Misra, J. A.K. Sikri, J. A.M. Khanwilkar, J. D.Y. Chandrachud & J. Ashok Bhushan”
|“The Court judged that the Chief Minister and not the Lieutenant Governor (LG) is the executive head of the National Capital Territory (NCT) government.”
FACTS OF THECASE –
The Delhi High Court previously considered the issue at hand in 2015 because of the repugnancy that exists “between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Ret’d Lt Governor Najeeb Jung regarding the appointment of a chief secretary without the Lt Governor’s consultation” and the CM’s ordering of corruption investigations without the Lt Governor’s advice.
Delhi is a Union Territory with characteristics of a State, such as an elected legislature, hence there was uncertainty because of its unique characteristics. “Article 239AA was inserted by the 69th Amendment to the Constitution in 1992, requiring Delhi to have an elected Assembly”. There is uncertainty over the Delhi State Government’s authority over the Center due to the specific provisions inserted to the article by the 69th Amendment.
The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi affirmed in its ruling that Delhi will remain a Union territory in spite of Article 239AA. It also stated that the special provisions included for Delhi do not negate the impact of Article 239, which grants the LT. Governor the authority to act without the Council of Ministers. This rendered all of the government of Delhi’s inquiries that were initiated without first seeking the LT. Governor’s counsel unlawful. These inquiries include a wide range of topics, such as the District Cricket Association, Delhi’s financial inquiries, and the issuing of CNG permits for automobiles.
“The Delhi administration appealed this Delhi High Court ruling to the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench of five judges”
In the aforementioned case, the key legal question was whether the LT. Governor was the real head of the Delhi government and was not subject to the counsel and assistance of the ministers, or if the LT. Governor was only a nominal head who had to abide by the council of ministers’ recommendations. The current constitution clearly states that the President of India must consult the Council of Ministers at the federal level, but it gives room for disagreement when it comes to the Lieutenant Governor and the Delhi Government.
On behalf of Appellant-
the learned counsel on behalf of the appellant submits that NCTD has a special status according to the Constitution of India, under article 239AA and 239AB, therefore when this two are interpreted, it was found out that Delhi is isn’t similar to the other state so doesn’t have complete statehood rather this provision was added to provide more control of the union over the said UT.
The appellant’s counsel further argues that the purpose of article 239AA, which was added during the 69th amendment, was to advance Delhi’s democracy and that it should be understood and interpreted as such. This article grants Delhi a special status and distinction from other UTs in order to create a democracy in the true sense of the word. “Since all of the matters fall under the purview of the Delhi Legislative Assembly and are pertinent to the matters in lists II and III, the LT Governor will need the minister’s assistance and advice”
On behalf of the respondent-
The respondent also said that Article 239, which focuses primarily on UTs, is a crucial tenet of Part VIII of the Constitution. Article 239AA, which deals especially with NCTD, should not be interpreted in a different way than article 239; both articles ultimately assert that UT is directly and indirectly governed by the President, with the Governor serving as the executive head of the institution.
The respondent also submitted that, article 239 is an important pillar of “Part VIII of the constitution whose main concern is about the UTs”. The article 239AA which specifically deals with NCTD must not read differently, rather must be read along with the article 239 and 239 ultimately state that UT is under the direct influence of the President so indirectly under LT.Governor being executive head there.
“In the Government of NCT Delhi v. Union of India case, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud claimed in his dissenting opinion that the Chief Minister, not the Lieutenant Governor (LG), is the executive head of the Delhi government. Additionally, he said that Article 239(1) of the Constitution”, which designates the LG as the executive head of a Union Territory, cannot be broken by any legislation passed by Parliament and that Delhi has a unique status among Union Territories.
Justice Chandrachud emphasized that democracy is not just the rule of the majority, but a basic structure that cannot be infringed. He argued that the enactment of Article 239AA was done with the objective of creating a democratic form of government in Delhi. He also pointed out that Union Territories do not have exclusive power over the State List, but can legislate on matters of the State List with certain exceptions laid down by Parliament.
Justice Chandrachud argues that the aid and advice notion only applies in cases where the Legislature has the power to create legislation, not in cases where the LG has complete authority or discretion. He contended that in a representational system of government, the head of the executive branch ought to be a representative. Moreover, he contended that the principle of representative government is incompatible with the LG’s autonomy to act (Article 239AA).
Justice Chandrachud said that referring every issue to the Union would be counterproductive since it would make the Legislature ineffective. He said that before being referred, disagreements between the Delhi Government and the LG should be addressed and resolved.
In simpler terms, Justice Chandrachud argued that Delhi should have a greater degree of autonomy, and that the LG’s powers should be limited. He also argued that the Delhi Government should be more accountable to the people of Delhi.
The article is written by Abhinav Agarwal of National law university Odisha, intern at legal vidhiya.
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