‘Delhi govt lacks political maturity’: Centre to SC on row over control of services

New Delhi : The Centre on Wednesday slammed the Delhi government for creating a perception that it has no power because the Lt Governor (LG) is supreme and does everything, and claimed that friction points occur due to its lack of “political maturity”.

The Centre stressed that since 1992 to till date, only 7 matters referred by the LG to the President citing difference of opinion and a total 18,000 files came to the LG, which were cleared.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted before a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that what the court is dealing with is the matter of perception and not constitutional law.

He argued that the perception which is being created inside and outside the court is that there is no power with the Delhi government “because the LG is supreme and the LG does everything”.
Mehta contended that the stand of the Delhi government is that “we are just symbolic and we can do nothing without the permission or sanction of the LG and officers’ owe allegiance elsewhere”.

Since 1992 to till date, only 7 matters referred by the LG to the President citing difference of opinion and a total 18,000 files came to LG as per the Constitutions’s Article 239AA after the constitution bench order and all were cleared.

The Delhi government, as per Article 239AA, cannot make laws on public order, police, and land featuring in the State List. Mehta emphasised that after 1992, several governments came at the state level and also in the Centre, there were several occasions when there were governments belonging to different political ideologies.

“But I rely on… one para… to say how that balance needs to be maintained, that one crucial word was political maturity, so far this question has never arisen and everything has been going on smoothly with harmony,” he said.

In July 2018, a constitution bench had held that the executive power of the Union government in respect of NCT of Delhi is confined to land, police and public order under subsection 3 of Article 239AA.

Mehta stressed that the law as in place ensures that everything goes without any friction and there is a perception being built that only the LG has power and an elected government is meaningless.
“It is an elected body which is in the driving seat,” he said. At this juncture, Chief Justice Chandrachud asked Mehta: “When you say elected body in driving seat, what are the powers…”.

The bench, which also comprises Justices M.R. Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P.S. Narasimha, further queried Mehta, “who creates the posts”. Mehta said the central government creates the posts and emphasised that the power is with ministers, and the powers are with the council of ministers.

He said the cadre controlling authority is not strangers; they have also been chosen by the people. “We have not received a single complaint that any officer is not implementing decisions taken, we are cadre controlling authority,” he said, adding that a castle built in air and a wrong perception is being created.

The arguments in the matter will continue on Thursday. The top court, in May last year, had referred to a five-judge constitution bench the issue of control of services in Delhi.
It had said the limited issue of control over services was not dealt with by the constitution bench which elaborately tackled all legal questions.



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