- In a landmark verdict on the power tussle between the Delhi government and the Centre, the Supreme Court today held that Lieutenant Governor does not have independent decision making powers, LG cannot act as an “obstructionist”. & is bound to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
- The judgement is pronounced in the court by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who was heading a five judge Constitution bench.
- “Aid and advice under Article 239AA means that the LG is bound by aid and advice of elected govt” said CJI Dipak Misra while reading out his judgement.
Some of the very categorical mentions made in the Article 239 AA about the powers and functions of Delhi government and Lietenant Governor are listed below :-
About the Cabinet, the Chief Minister and Lieutenant Governor :-
- There shall be a Council of Ministers consisting of not more than ten percent, of the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly, with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Lieutenant Governor in the exercise to his functions in relation to matters with respect to which the Legislative Assembly has power to make laws, except in so far as he is, by or under any law, required to act in his discretion.
- Provided that in the case of difference of opinion between the Lieutenant Governor and his Ministers on any matter, the Lieutenant Governor shall refer it to the President for decision and act according to the decision given thereon by the President and pending such decision it shall be competent for the Lieutenant Governor in any case where the matter, in his opinion, is so urgent that it is necessary for him to take immediate action, to take such action or to give such direction in the matter as he deems necessary.
About the Delhi Government :-
- There shall be a Legislative Assembly for the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the seats in such Assembly shall be filled by members chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the National Capital Territory.
- The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly.
- Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the Legislative Assembly shall have power to make laws for the whole or any part of the National Capital Territory with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the State of List or in the Concurrent List.
- However, the Delhi Assembly is also exempted to make laws in certain issues. “Law can be made in any such matter is applicable to Union territories except matters with respect to Entries 1,2, and 18 of the State List and Entries 44, 65 and 66 of that List in so far as they relate to the said Entries 1,2,and 18,” the text of the Article 239 AA reads.
Key points of SC judgement on power sharing tussle between Delhi & Centre Govt :-
- LG has no independent decision-making power and cannot behave as an obstructionist when the Constitution gives primacy to the representative form of government.
- Except for the three issues, including land and law and order, over which Centre has exclusive power, Delhi government must be allowed to legislate and govern on other issues and LG cannot stall decisions mechanically.
- Both the LG and the CM are constitutional functionaries and must work harmoniously with mutual respect and none of them should feel superior to the other.
- LG being the administrative head of Delhi must be informed of all executive powers but he cannot stall all the decisions of council of ministers who have been elected to address aims and aspirations of the electorate.
- 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 should not act in a mechanical manner to refer all decisions of the council of ministers to the President citing difference of opinion. Only in exceptional situations, the LG can refer the issue to President when he has legitimate and serious difference of opinion with the decision taken by the council of ministers headed by Delhi CM.
- Delhi enjoys a unique position under Constitution and neither the LG nor the CM heading the council of ministers should consider themselves bigger than the other.
- 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.