The Supreme Court on Friday refused to ask the Centre to respond to a plea filed by the Aam Aadmi Party’s claiming that implementation of policies in the national capital was getting hampered due to non-cooperation from civil servants, ANI reported.
“We will deal with constitutional issues,” the court said.
The court made the statement in response to an affidavit filed by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, claiming that bureaucrats had stopped taking calls from ministers of the Aam Aadmi Party government. He alleged that the problem has become acute since Vinai Kumar Saxena took over as the lieutenant governor of Delhi, Bar and Bench reported.
The affidavit was filed in connection to a case in which the Delhi government and the Centre are vying for control of the administrative services in the Union Territory. The Union government has contended that it needs the power to make transfers and postings of officials in Delhi as it is the country’s capital.
On Friday, the Supreme Court said that it will not allow any more affidavits in the case like the one submitted by Sisodia, ANI reported.
“We will freeze the pleadings,” it said. “We will not ask for a reply now otherwise everyone will start filing affidavits one day before the hearing. Let the Constitution Bench take up the matter now.”
At the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing the Centre, accused the Delhi government of leaking the affidavit to the media before it was filed, ANI reported.
Aam Aadmi Party’s lawyer, advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, refuted the allegations.
The case so far
In April, the Centre had filed a plea in the Supreme Court stating that the dispute about control of administrative services should be referred to a larger bench.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta referred to a 2018 judgement, stating that it did not give any roadmap to decide if the Union or the Delhi government will have the jurisdiction to deal with a disputed subject.
In 2018, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court 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.
It also said that the lieutenant governor cannot act mechanically. The bench added that the Centre cannot “usurp powers on areas within the dominion of states”, while noting that Delhi does not have the status of a state.
Meanwhile, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi had opposed the Centre’s submission and contended that there was no need for the matter to be sent to a larger bench. Singhvi, representing the Delhi government, had said that the 2018 judgement had no ambiguity about the state government’s powers.
Earlier in February 2019, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court had delivered a split verdict on the power tussle in Delhi.
Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, who were on the two-judge bench, referred the matter of jurisdiction over “services” to a larger bench. On other matters under consideration, the judges delivered concurring verdicts.
On May 6, the Supreme Court accepted the Centre’s request and referred the matter to the Constitution bench.