Delhi Lt Gov should show statesmanship in dealing with elected govt: SC

Topics Arvind Kejriwal

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the Lt. Governor of Delhi is expected to exhibit "constitutional statesmanship" in dealing with the democratically-elected government in administering the affairs of the national capital.

The constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that there should be comity in the administration of the national capital and the difference of opinion between the Lt. Governor and the head of the elected government can't be on trivial issues.

The constitution bench also comprising Justice A.K.Sikri, Justice A.M.Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y.Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan said this as the Central government told the bench that the administration of the national capital - that belongs to the entire country - was in "full control of the federal government".

"There has to be comity of administration between Lt. Governor and the head of the elected government - Chief Minister," said Chief Justice Misra, also underlining: "There has to be some kind of collegiality between the Lt. Governor and the elected government."

"The difference of opinion (between Lt. Governor and elected government) can't be trivial," he said, but also at the same time, clarifying: "We can't lay down the areas of difference of opinion."

Taking it further, Justice Chandrachud said, "The issue of comity between the Lt. Governor and the elected government has to be real and that is why the Constitution itself provides for such an arrangement between the Lt. Governor and the elected government."

Pointing to different political parties ruling at the Centre and in the States, he said: "The constitutional statesmanship is being exhibited by the Governors of various states across the country, particularly when the party in the power at the Centre and in the states are not the same."

The court wondered what was the purpose of granting the constitutional status to the union territory, if such a statesmanship on the part of Lt. Governor is not shown.

The constitution bench is hearing a batch of petitions by the Delhi government challenging the Delhi High Court order that held that the Lt Governor had the final authority in the governance of the national capital. The Centre is defending the High Court verdict.

Addressing the bench, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh said, that for all practical purposes, the Union Territory of Delhi is centrally-administered and all powers vests with the Centre.

He said that no exclusive powers of any kind are vested in the council of ministers of the elected government and such an arrangment is not in national interest.

He laboured to drive home the point that the real authority in case of the national capital is the Central government acting through an administrator called Lt. Governor and not the elected government.

There is federal aspect in every matter concerning the national capital and there is clear delegation of power in favour of Lt. Governor, Singh told the constitution bench raising a grouse that the Delhi government was creating a "disharmony" in the wordings of the different provisions of the Constitution.

At this, the CJI said: "We will fill the disharmony".

Maninder Singh will continue his arguments on Wednesday.


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