Delhi can’t claim power and privileges of a state, Centre tells SC

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NEW DELHI: The Centre told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the AAP government could not claim power and privileges of a state government as Delhi was a Union Territory and said that of 650 files received by the lieutenant governor in the past three years, there was a difference of opinion on only three cases. The Centre accused the Delhi government of raking up a controversy to create disharmony among various institutions in its face off with the LG and the Centre over powers that it laid claim to but did not enjoy.

Appearing before a constitution bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, additional solicitor general Maninder Singh contended that the AAP regime could not claim powers in violation of a constitutional scheme that set out a vertical division of power between the city government and the Centre for administering the Capital. Refuting allegations leveled by a bevy of senior lawyers appearing for the NCT government that the Centre was stalling day-to-day decision-making with the LG sitting on files, the ASG informed the bench that there was a difference of opinion in only three cases.

“They are admitting that it (Delhi) is not a state but claim power and privileges of a state. How is it possible? If it is not a state then it cannot claim privileges of a state. It can never become a state and its government cannot be said to be a state government. There is no exclusive executive power given to them,” Singh said while referring to the NCT government’s submission in which it did not press for statehood for Delhi.

The ASG told the bench that representatives of Delhi government were present in all meetings convened by the LG and the allegation that the latter was impeding its functioning was baseless. He said the Constitution provided a harmonious scheme for balance of power among different institutions but the NCT government had created disharmony.

Singh said it was a conscious decision by the framers of the Constitution to differentiate between state and UT and the latter could not seek powers under various provisions if these had not been specifically mentioned. Earlier, senior advocate Shekahar Naphade concluded arguments of behalf of the AAP regime and said the government was empowered to rule Delhi and the Centre could not take away this power. He said the LG should not have any role in the day-to-day administration in a democratic form of government.

“This is a full fledged government with elected chief minister and executive power draws from Article 239 AA. There is no other provision which says that Centre is to exercise executive power. Article 239 AA is a special law while Article 239 is a general provision and the special law must have primacy,” he said.

Article 239 AA provides a special provision for Delhi and says there shall be a council of ministers with the CM at the head to aid and advise the LG in the exercise of his functions in matters with respect to which the assembly has power to make laws, except in so far as he is, by or under any law, required to act in his discretion. Article 239 talks about administration of UTs. The court is hearing a batch of petitions filed by the AAP government challenging Delhi High Court’s verdict which had held that primacy in administering the affairs of Delhi rested with the LG, and by extension, the Centre.

Source:- Times Of India

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