Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Supreme Court to hear plea regarding dispute over administrative control in Delhi

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to hear the dispute between the Central and Delhi governments regarding administrative control over transfer and posting of officers in the national capital.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi mentioned the matter before a Bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli.

While agreeing to list the case, asked the Central government to cooperate with the proceedings.

The case will be heard by a Constitution bench. In may, 2022, a three-judge had decided to send the matter to a larger bench, on request by the Central government.

On the other hand, the AAP-led Delhi government alleged that it has been excluded by the Central government from exercising any administrative control over the important bureaucrats and officers and that the officers were continuing to act on the orders of the Central government through the Lieutenant Governor (LG).

In 2018, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had interpreted Article 239AA of the Constitution, which contains special provisions with respect to the National Capital Territory. The peculiar status of the NCT and the powers of the Delhi Legislative Assembly and the LG and their interplay were debated in the case.

The Court in that judgment had ruled that the LG cannot act independently without the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, and has to work harmoniously with the NCT government.

The appeals relating to individual aspects including services were then placed before a regular Bench for adjudication based on the Constitution Bench judgment.

The regular bench had on April 14, 2019, pronounced its verdict on various individual aspects relating to the tussle between the Delhi government and the LG.

However, the two judges on the Bench – Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan – had differed on the issue of ‘services’ under Schedule VII, List II, Entry 41 of the Constitution of India

The issue considered by the Court was 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 a notification of the Government of India dated May 21, 2015, is unconstitutional and illegal.

Since the judges on the Bench differed, that aspect was referred to a larger Bench and it came up before a three-judge bench.

The three-judge bench then referred the matter to the Constitution Bench on Centre’s request.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government, had opposed the request of referral, contending that such reference would amount to review of the 2018 judgement.

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