Govt. Of NCT Of Delhi v. UNION OF INDIA, 2018
C.A. No. 2357/2017
Constitution Bench comprising of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice MR Shah, Justice Krishna Murari, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice PS Narasimha.
This dispute is between Delhi Government and the Union Government regarding control of administrative services in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The matter concerned the allocation of Powers and delineation of responsibilities between the Delhi Government and the LG and also the administrative services in Delhi.
- Whether the Government of NCT of Delhi has legislative and executive powers in relation to ‘services’ under Schedule VII, List II of the Constitution of India?
- Whether the officers of the various ‘services’ such as IAS, IPS who have been allocated to Delhi by the Union of India, come under the administrative control of the Government of NCT of Delhi?
Arguments from Delhi Government
The Arguments for the Government of National capital Territory of Delhi was led by Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi has made the case that state workers must be held accountable to the general public. They maintained that there was a chain of accountability that went from public officials to ministers to the legislature, and then the legislature to the people who elected them.
It was argued that the Delhi government’s competency stood as the sole criterion for any civil servant’s capacity to perform their duties. As a result, the central government had no genuine reason to want to manage the civil service
The (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991 introduced Article 239AA.
The Government of Delhi emphasised that the provisions of Article 239AA give the National Capital Territory of Delhi’s government executive authority to enact legislation on subjects within its legislative purview.
The Delhi government argued that national capitals in federal systems around the world, regardless of the model they used to divide power between the federal government and the local government, did not anticipate a scenario in which the local government was unable to appoint and control civil servants/staff to the Government and to control their day-to-day operations.
Arguments from Central Government
Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India appeared on behalf of the Central Government.
According to the central government, managing Delhi was one of its major responsibilities. Given that Delhi was the national capital and of strategic importance, it was maintained that the LG’s authority was required to maintain a balance between the elected government and the central government.
It was argued that the LG should have the authority to review and approve the decisions made by the elected administration rather than limiting its duty to simple acquiescence.Additionally, the LG served as a safeguard against any potential abuse of authority or disregard for constitutional laws.
The central government argued that limitations apply to the legislative powers conferred upon the Legislative Assembly of Delhi under Article 239AA. It stated that the scheme envisaged by Article 239AA called for a cooperative and coordinated decision-making process between the elected government and the LG.
The Supreme Court ruled that, with the exception of situations involving public order, the police, and land, the Delhi government controls all administrative functions in the National Capital.
Supreme Court Constitution Bench comprising 5 judges observed that:
“If a democratically elected government is not given the power to control the officers, the principle of triple chain of accountability will be redundant. If the officers stop reporting to the Ministers or do not abide by their directions, the principle of collective responsibility is affected.”
SC held that the legislative assembly of National Capital Territory of Delhi embodies the principal of Representative Democracy and therefore, Article 239AA must be interpreted in this interest. Article 239AA is meant to balance the interests between Delhi Government and Central Government.