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Supreme Court to lay verdict today on Centre-AAP govt power tussle

The Supreme Court is slated to pronounce a crucial verdict on Wednesday on a batch of appeals 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 Chief Justice Dipak Misra, which had commenced hearing in the matter on November 2, 2017, had reserved its verdict on December 6, 2017.

The AAP dispensation had argued before the apex court bench, which also comprised Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, that it possessed both the legislative and executive powers.

It had said 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 AAP government had argued that the L-G has been taking many executive decisions and a “harmonious interpretation” of Article 239AA of the Constitution was needed to fulfil the constitutional mandate for a democratically-elected Delhi government. The article deals with power and status of Delhi.

The Centre had contended before the bench that Delhi government cannot have the “exclusive” executive powers as it would be against national interests and referred to the 1989 Balakrishnan committee report that had dealt with the reasons for not granting the status of a state to Delhi

It had also argued that several “illegal” notifications were issued by the Delhi government and they were challenged in the high court.

The Centre had referred to the Constitution, the 1991 Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act and the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules to drive home the point that the President, the union government and the LG had supremacy over city dispensation in administering the national capital.

On the other hand, the Delhi government had 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.

During the arguments, the apex court had said it would only lay down the principles on the status of the national capital under the Constitution and not deal with issues arising out of individual notifications issued by the Delhi government on matters like the ‘mohalla clinics’ and regularisation of guest teachers.

The high court, in its August 4, 2016 verdict, had said that L-G is the administrative head of National Capital Territory and AAP government’s contention that he is bound to act on the advice of Council of Ministers was “without substance”.

While a battery of senior lawyers — P Chidambaram, Gopal Subramanium, Rajeev Dhavan, Indira Jaising — had argued for the Arvind Kejriwal government, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre was represented by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh in the marathon proceedings.

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