SC says Delhi LG can't delay decisions — AAP versus Centre

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Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in New Delhi (Praveen Khanna/file) Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in New Delhi (Praveen Khanna/file) The Supreme Court Thursday reminded the Arvind Kejriwal government that there were limitations to its powers under the Constitution, but added that in matters where the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) had differences with it, he could not sit on files.

However, senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, representing the Delhi government, had submitted that the petitions did not seek full Statehood for Delhi, but was asking for more freedom for an elected government to administer and govern the National Capital.

Summary: "Public order in Delhi, police or land can not be subject of executive power of government of Delhi", pointed out Justice Chandrachud. He argued that Article 239AA could not be used by the L-G to frustrate the constitutional mandate for an elected government in Delhi.

The hearing by the two judge bench on Delhi government's appeals had seen the court favouring a balance in the exercise of powers by the Delhi government and the Lt. Governor for good governance.

Delhi has a unique position under the Indian Constitution, with its own state assembly and an administrator in the form of an L-G.

The Delhi HC quashed Kejriwal's plea.

"Special status to Delhi has been attributed by a constitutional amendment".

"Yes, there should be an element of objectivity in exercise of power by the L G following the difference of opinion".

Sensing where the bench was driving at, Subramanium said that the Delhi government too was raising its resources. SC said, the LG will be the administrative head and will not be bound to advise of the council of ministers.

However, the LG can not hold any file for more than a reasonable period of time.

He said that when they came to power in 2013 for 49 days, officers and police were not taking any bribe as the ACB was under the Delhi government, but though the ACB was taken away from the Delhi government when AAP came to power for the second time, "they couldn't take one thing from us - passion".

The bench observed that the provision is an in-built exception provided in the Constitution and prima facie it appears that overriding powers are given to the L-G through Article 239AA.

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