Kejriwal vs LG: SC limits LG’s role, hands out more power to Delhi government
New Delhi, July 4: The Supreme Court put to rest the long standing tussle between the Delhi Governor and Lieutenant Governor. It said that the role of the LG is to help and not be obstructionist.
The Supreme Court observed that if legitimate decisions are delayed by the Lieutenant Governor, then collective responsibility of the government stands negated. The court also held that the Union Government must not usurp powers on maters within the domain of the legislature.
The verdict was pronounced by a five judge Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra. The Bench also comprised, Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
The Bench observed that all decisions must be in line with constitutional spirit. The constitutional trust is of utmost importance the Bench observed.
The principle of collective responsibility is of immense significance. If legitimate decisions of legislators are delayed by L-G, collective responsibility of government stands negated. Union and State governments must collaborate and display harmonious relations, the court said.
The Bench noted that the Union has executive power over land, police and public order. All other areas it is the Delhi government which has the power.
The court further noted that NCT of Delhi does not have the status of a state. It is a class apart. The court also said that Delhi cannot have the powers of a full state in view of the earlier nine-judge verdict.
The Bench said that the executive powers of the legislative assembly coexist with its legislative powers. The Union Government has exclusive power over land, police and public order. Some required degree of independence has to be given to Delhi Government. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal is bound by act and advise of the council of ministers. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal can't act independently unless Constitution allows.
The LG can't act in a mechanical manner and refer all decisions of the council of ministers to President. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal's role can't be obstructionist. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal must work together with the council of ministers and respect their decisions, the court said.
The bench also noted that popular will of the people cannot be allowed to lose its purpose amidst semantics.
The LG is an administrator in a limited sense and not a Governor. He is bound by the advise of the NCT government in areas other than those exempted. The Bench also held that executive power of Delhi government must be given some degree of independence within the areas on which the Constitution allows it to legislate and administer.
The LG can only refer differences of opinion under Article 239AA(4) to the President only in exceptional matters. This is an exception and not the general rule. He has to act in the spirit of the constitutional trust and morality, the court also observed.
The concurrence of the LG is not required in all matters. No authority should feel it has been lionised and mutual respect is the key, the Bench noted.
Further the Supreme Court said that, executive power of Delhi government must be given some degree of independence within the areas on which the Constitution allows it to legislate and administer. The LG can only refer differences of opinion under Article 239AA(4) to the President only in exceptional matters. This is an exception and not the general rule. He has to act in the spirit of the constitutional trust and morality.
The concurrence of the LG is not required in all matters. No authority should feel it has been lionised and mutual respect is the key, the Bench noted. Delhi's council of ministers headed by CM must communicate all decisions taken by it to the LG but it does not mean LG's concurrence is required on every issue.
LG being the administrative head of Delhi must be informed of all executive power but he cannot stall all the decision of council of ministers who have been elected to address aims and aspirations of electorate. LG and the CM are constitutional functionaries who must work harmoniously with mutual respect and none of them should feel superior to the other.
LG must realise that it is the council of ministers are answerable to the people and LG cannot stall every decision of NCT government. LG must know it is elected government and not he who has the substantiative powers. Role of the LG is not to supplant the constitutional role of the NCT, but to give help. He should both about issues of only national importance, the court also said.