In a big relief for the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the ongoing power tussle, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said that the Delhi Lieutenant Governor has no independent decision-making power and he cannot act as an obstructionist.
Delivering its verdict, which has been hailed as “a big victory for democracy” by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the top court made it clear that the L-G cannot behave as an obstructionist when the Constitution gives primacy to the representative of the government and asserted that “real power lies with the elected government of Delhi”.
Reading out the decision, Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that obeying the constitution is everybody’s duty and responsibility.
The chief justice also said, “The Lieutenant Governor must work harmoniously with the state,” adding that the L-G and council of ministers have to be constantly aligned.
“L-G can refer issues on the difference of opinion to President only in exceptional matters and not as a general rule,” the Supreme Court said, adding that Delhi cannot have full statehood in view of an earlier nine-judge judgment.
The top court said Delhi is not a full state and the L-G has no independent power adding that the status of the L-G is not similar to that of the Governor of other states.
“While the Parliament has the power to make laws for Delhi on subjects in state and concurrent list, the elected government can also make laws on all subjects expect land, police and public order. If Parliament makes a law, the executive power of the state must conform to the law made by Parliament,” the apex court added.
The apex court also said that L-G should not act in a mechanical manner and stall decisions of the council of ministers
The verdict came after a clutch of petitions filed by the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government challenging the Delhi High Court’s order holding the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) as the administrative head of the national capital.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by the chief justice, which had commenced hearing in the matter on November 2, 2017, had reserved its verdict on December 6, 2017.
The AAP dispensation had argued that the chief minister and the council of ministers had the legislative power to make laws as well as the executive authority to enforce the enacted statutes.
The Delhi government had also accused the L-G of making a “mockery of democracy”, saying he was either taking decisions of an elected government or substituting them without having any power.
However, the Centre, while referring to the 1989 Balakrishnan committee report, had stated that Delhi government cannot have the “exclusive” executive powers as it would be against national interests.
Earlier, the Delhi High Court in its judgement had said that L-G is the administrative head of National Capital Territory and Kejriwal-led AAP government’s contention that he is bound to act on the advice of the council of ministers was “without substance”.