The Hush Post: In a major relief for Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, the Supreme Court has said that the LG cannot act on his own, can’t be an impediment against the AAP government’s policy decision and is bound by the state government’s advice.
The top court’s five-judge constitution bench made it crystal clear that the LG has no independent decision-making power.
“Aid and advice under Article 239 AA means that the LG is bound by aid and advice of elected govt,” said chief justice Dipak Misra, who read out the judgement of three of five judges of the SC bench.
Still, Justice Chandrachud, of the five judges on the bench said given the unique case of Delhi’s status, the Centre may, in exceptional cases, block decisions of the council of ministers if it is to do with the national interest.
The SC said that except for the three issues including land and law and order, over which the Centre has exclusive power, the Delhi government must be allowed to legislate and govern on issues and the LG cannot and should not stall decisions.
Essentially, it means the LG should not refer all decisions of Delhi’s council of ministers to the President merely by citing a difference of opinion.
The SC said the Constitution gives the mandate to the council of ministers headed by the Delhi chief minister to communicate all decisions to the LG but they do not require LG’s concurrence.
The five-judge constitution bench that delivered the ruling today comprised chief justice Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
Since assuming office with an overwhelming majority, the AAP government has been having an ugly public spat with the Centre’s representative, that is, Delhi’s lieutenant governor (LG). The government has accused successive LGs of stalling its policy decisions relating to development work in the NCT.
AAP had fielded a battery of senior advocates including Gopal Subramanium, Rajeev Dhavan and Indira Jaising – and sought interpretation of Article 239AA of the Constitution, which according to the Centre created a state in Delhi but gave a major say in governance to the LG.
On behalf of the Centre, additional solicitor general Maninder Singh had said provisions of Article 239AA were crystal clear and there was no ambiguity as it categorically stated that in case of difference of opinion, the LG’s view will prevail. However, that view now has been rejected after this court order.