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Supreme Court says it’ll form 3-judge bench to decide on Delhi govt vs LG matter after Dussehra

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The Supreme Court will hear the issue of “services” under Schedule VII, List II, Entry 41 of the Constitution of India and the stand-off between the Delhi Lieutenant Governor and the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi after the Dussehra vacation.

The matter was mentioned before the bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana on Tuesday by Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, who sought an early hearing of the case pertaining to the to the legal dispute between the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) and the Union Government relating to the control of services. The Chief Justice of India said a Bench will be constituted after the upcoming vacation.

Earlier in February 2019, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan had differed on the question of powers of the GNCTD and the Union Government over services, and thus referred the matter to a three-judge bench.

The judges differed on whether the exclusion of “services” relatable to Entry 41 of List II of the Seventh Schedule from the legislative and executive domain of the NCT of Delhi, vide notification of the Government of India, dated May 21, 2015, is unconstitutional and illegal. Therefore, this aspect was referred to a larger bench.

Rahul Mehra, appearing on behalf of Delhi Government, mentioned this pending reference before the Chief Justice of India for the early listing.

Mehra submitted, “It is a matter pertaining to issue of services which find mention in entry 41 of list II. Pursuant to Constitutional Bench judgement, only three subjects were kept in domain of Union government – Police, land and public order. The two-judges Bench expressed divergent views about the matter and it was referred to 3-Judge Bench. Since entire administrative control vests currently with Central Government, it is an important issue and impedes on the ability of Delhi government to govern and implement its policies.”

The Chief Justice asked, “It’s a 5-judge bench matter?”

“It was a 3-judge bench matter. It is placed before them,” Mehra replied.

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“After Dussehra vacation. We have to constitute a Bench,” said the CJI.

On April 14, 2019, the Supreme Court  had decided on various individual aspects regarding the clash between Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor. In the split verdict, Justice Sikri held that transfers and postings of officers of and above the rank of Joint Secretary are under the powers of the LG; other officers are under the control of Delhi Govt. On this aspect, Justice Bhushan dissented to hold that “services” were totally outside the purview of Delhi Government.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government led by Arvind Kejriwal, pushed for an early hearing of the appeal and sought to exercise legislative and executive powers over IAS, IPS, and other officers of various services in Delhi.

The Delhi government had contended that it has been excluded by the Centre from exercising administrative control over the officers and that the officers were continuing to act on the orders of the Centre through the LG.

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