The Supreme Court (SC) of India on Thursday, while hearing a batch of pleas filed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led Delhi Government observed that the Delhi government will have to take the Lieutenant Governor’s (LG) consent to govern the administrative duties in the capital. However, the LG cannot hold any file for more than a reasonable period of time. The SC said that the supremacy in the administration of the Union Territory of Delhi was prima facie tilted in favour of the LG. AAP had alleged that the ministers had to bow down to the administrative officers in order to get themselves heard. The government had filed a petition against a High Court verdict which said that Delhi is not a state and hence the administrative power lies with the LG.
The apex court headed by a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that the Article 239AA of the Indian Constitution is unique for Delhi and the Lieutenant Governor is provided with more power than the ruling party here, unlike the other Union Territories. “Article 239AA is unique to Delhi. Prima facie it appears that it gives more power to Lieutenant Governor, unlike other Union Territories. LG in Delhi has the primacy under the Constitution,” the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, said.
Senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium led the arguments for the Delhi Government and said that the governor has been deemed with limited power and that it should be given more power. He also added that Delhi is the only Union Territory which enjoys maximum autonomy. Justice Chandrachud ruled that the LG cannot sit on files for long and has to pass it forth to the President of India in case of a difference of opinion. Provision (4) in the Article 239AA cannot be exploited by the LG to frustrate the constitutional mandate suggested the SC adding that President should be consulted immediately in cases of difference of opinion.
Suggesting that the LG and the government will have to work together in synergy for the welfare of the public. SC said, the LG will be the administrative head and will not be bound to advise of the council of ministers. The existence of the LG in administrative issues was “mandatory” mentioned the apex court and the AAP government will have to adopt in the framework.