Delhi-Centre power tussle: Supreme Court reserves order on plea to refer dispute to larger bench
The Union government on Wednesday had told the court that it needed power over transfers and postings of officials in Delhi administration.
The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on the Union government’s plea that the dispute about control of Delhi’s administrative services should be referred to a five-judge bench, PTI reported.
The submission was opposed by the state’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party government, which contended that there was no need for the matter to be sent to a larger bench.
The Union government on Wednesday had told the Supreme Court that it needed power over transfers and postings of officials in Delhi as it is the national Capital.
“Delhi is the face of the nation,” the Centre told the court. “The world views India through Delhi.” The laws on postings of officials in Delhi had been framed keeping in mind the city’s administration, and not any political party, it added.
The Centre had made the statement in an affidavit filed in response to a petition by the Delhi government that questioned the Union government’s control over civil service personnel in the city.
On Thursday, a bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said it will take a call on the issue “as early as possible”.
If a five-judge bench is constituted to hear the issue, then the hearing in the case has to be concluded before May 15, the court said, according to PTI. This would help in preparing the judgement during the summer vacations, the court added.
Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Delhi government, said cited the 2018 constitution bench judgement by the Supreme Court. He said that it had no ambiguity about Delhi government’s powers.
“But if there was any, even then it can be decided by the present bench,” Singhvi said, according to PTI. “...There have been six requests for adjournment and now they want it to be referred to a larger bench.”
In 2018, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had said that the lieutenant governor of Delhi, who is appointed by the President of India, is bound by the “aid and advice” of the council of ministers of the Delhi government in all matters under its jurisdiction.
On the other hand, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central government, demanded that the issue should be sent to a constitution bench on grounds including that the 2018 judgement did not give any roadmap to decide if the Union or the Delhi government will have the competence to deal with a disputed subject, PTI reported.