SC gives Delhi govt control over “Naukarshahi”
NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court Gave a Landmark Verdict in the Delhi Government vs Lieutenant Governor Case. The Top court ruled in favour of the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government. The SC gives Kejriwal govt all rights to control the bureaucracy in the national capital. AAP celebrated its victory and hailed the verdict delivered by the apex court. The bench ruled that the Delhi government must have control over bureaucrats in administration of services except in areas outside the legislative powers of NCT.( Land, Public Order, Police).
The Delhi assembly is given powers to legislate to represent the will of the people, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court said in a unanimous verdict. In a democratic form of governance, the real power of administration must rest on the elected arm of government, said the bench, adding that the central government’s power in matters in which both the Centre and states can legislate “is limited to ensure that the governance is not taken over by the Central government”.Disagreeing that the Delhi government had no power over services, the judges said only Public Order, Police and Land are excluded from its jurisdiction.
“If a democratically elected government is not allowed to control its officers and hold them to account, then its responsibility towards legislature and the public is diluted. If an officer is not responding to the government, the collective responsibility is diluted. If an officer feels they are insulated from the elected government they feel they are not accountable,” said the Chief Justice. The Supreme Court bench pronounced that the Delhi government must have control over bureaucrats in administration of services. The five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud pronounced the verdict. The bench also comprise Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha.
“If officers stop reporting to the ministers or do not abide by their directions, the principle of collective responsibility is affected,” Chief Justice DY Chandhrachud said, reading out the order.
The five-judge Constitution Bench tackled the question of who has administrative control over transfers and postings of bureaucrats in the capital. The Lieutenant Governor, who represents the Centre in Delhi, is bound by the elected government’s decision on services, the judges ruled. The Lt Governor is also bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers, they said. While the Lt Governor has powers, they do not mean administration over the entire Delhi government, “otherwise the purpose of having a separate elected body in Delhi will be rendered futile”, said the Supreme Court.
Delhi’s ruling AAP celebrated its victory after years of bickering with different Lieutenant Governors since it came to power in 2013.
The legislative structure is to exclude only specified entries from the power of the legislative assembly of Delhi, the SC bench said. “Whether NCT has legislative and executive control over Services. We have dealt with 2018 constitution bench judgment. We are unable to agree with view of Justice Bhushan in split Judgement,” the bench stated.The CJI said that if elected govt dont have any control , they cant fulfill responsiblity towards assembly people.The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the AAP government in Delhi.
CJI DY Chandrachud stated, “LG shall exercise powers under the administrative role as entrusted by the president. executive administration can only extend to the matters which falls outside legislative assembly but is limited to the powers entrusted by president and it cannot mean administration over entire NCTD.”
In 2019, Justice Ashok Bhushan had ruled the Delhi government has no power at all over administrative services, Justice AK Sikri, however, had said the transfer or posting of officers in top echelons of the bureaucracy (joint director and above) can only be done by the Central government and the view of the Lieutenant Governor would prevail in case of a difference of opinion for matters relating to other bureaucrats. The two-judge bench which was hearing pleas on six matters pertaining to a long-running conflict between the Centre and the Delhi government, had given a unanimous order on the remaining five issues except the control over services.
Prior to February 2019 judgement, a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court had on July 4, 2018, laid down the broad parameters for governance of the national capital. In the landmark verdict, it had unanimously held that Delhi cannot be accorded the status of a State but trimmed the powers of the LG saying he has no “independent decision-making power” and has to act on the aid and advice of the elected government.
“This is a historic victory for Delhi. We have been fighting for eight years. They (Centre) stalled all our work deliberately using their appointees. Both my hands were tied and I was pushed into the river, but I kept swimming, by grace of God,” said Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi.
He announced that soon, there would be transfers to remove corrupt officers and bring in honest, hard-working officers. “Our work will now resume at 10 times the speed,” Mr Kejriwal said, promising a “lean, thin, responsive, passionate and accountable” government.
Arvind Kejriwal has often complained that he could not so much as appoint a “peon” without the Centre’s say-so. He alleged that bureaucrats didn’t obey his government’s orders as their cadre-controlling authority was the Union Home Ministry. The Delhi Government approached the court in 2018, arguing that its decisions were constantly overruled by the Lieutenant Governor, that appointments were cancelled, files not cleared, and basic decision-making was obstructed. In a landmark verdict in 2018, the Supreme Court said the elected government of Delhi is the boss and that the Lieutenant Governor has no independent decision-making powers under the Constitution, except for issues linked to land, police and public order. The Lieutenant Governor, the court said, has to act on the aid and advice of the elected government and cannot function as “an obstructionist”.
In 2019, when the Supreme Court considered various appeals, a two-judge bench gave a unanimous verdict but was split on the question of powers over services. On the Centre’s request, the case was then referred to the Constitution Bench.
The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that it is unable to agree with Justice Ashok Bhushan’s ruling in the split judgement of 2019. The top court has to decide the legal issue concerning the scope of legislative and executive powers of the Centre and Delhi government over control of services in the national capital.It also ruled that the Centre will oversee police, and public order.
After the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Delhi government regarding power over services, Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hailed the verdict. Extending his gratitude to the apex court for delivering ‘justice’, he said that the ruling would help boost the national capital’s pace of development. Elated with the SC ruling, Kejriwal slammed the Centre saying it appointed only those secretaries whose basic work was creating obstacle in the functioning of Delhi government. “We thank the SC judges for doing justice to us,” he said.
“We thank Justice DY Chandrachud and all the judges of the bench for this decision, I want to congratulate the people of Delhi. After today’s decision more work will be done and we will give a responsive government. Officers who obstructed people’s work will have to face music, major reshuffle of officers on cards based on performance, he added. Kejriwal also indicated a major reshuffle in the bureaucracy in the coming days and said the officers who put obstacles in the Delhi government’s work “will have to pay for their deeds.” The entire system is rotten. We will create a system that is accountable and responsible towards the public,” he said. On being asked about the Anti-Corruption Branch, he said, “The ACB is not with us but vigilance will now be with us. Disciplinary proceedings can be initiated against officers who do not work properly.”
(Bureau Report with Agencies Inputs).