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

Justice Chandrachud said the L-G had to clear files within a reasonable period of time and if there is a delay, specify the reasons on file. "It is the L G who is given primacy", the bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said.

Senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium led the arguments for the Delhi Government and said that the governor has been deemed with limited power and that it should be given more power.

It had said that the special constitutional provision Article 239AA dealing with Delhi does not "dilute" the effect of Article 239 which relates to the union territory and hence, the concurrence of the LG in administrative issues was "mandatory".

During the hearing the bench gave several hints that it was of the view that a harmonious interpretation of Article 239AA was needed to fulfill constitutional mandate for a democratic elected government in Delhi. The L-G must exercise his functions with the aid and advice of the council of ministers, which has a collective responsibility and accountability to the people.

"If Jan Lokpal is passed in Delhi, then our MLAs will be trapped, our ministers will be trapped, our Chief Minister will be trapped, it's good for you (central government), so pass it".

"Delhi HC has erroneously concluded that Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is not bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers".

The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that Delhi government has to take Lieutenant Governor's consent to govern the national capital but the latter can not hold a file beyond a reasonable period. "It was not a structural addition to the Constitution and has been founded on constitutional values of accountability, transparency and amenity to the rule of law, which need to be considered in this case", he said.

The appeals were referred to the Constitution Bench in February by a Division Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and R. K. Agrawal.

The top court will continue the hearing. Provision (4) in the Article 239AA can not be exploited by the LG to frustrate the constitutional mandate suggested the SC adding that President should be consulted immediately in cases of difference of opinion.

While not framing the questions to be adjudicated by the Constitution Bench, the court had then asked both the Union government and the Arvind Kejriwal government to argue their respective cases before the larger bench.

  • Rogelio Becker