A government will not be able to function if it does not have the power to manage civil services, the Delhi government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Live Law reported.

A Constitution bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud was hearing dispute between the Centre and the Delhi government about the control of administrative services.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Delhi government, told the bench that any government that seeks to fulfill the will of the people must have the power to create posts, appoint persons and change them as needed.

“Unless the government has the power of creating and managing civil services, appointing persons, transferring persons, a government cannot function,” Singhvi said.

The lawyer told the court that the exclusion of civil services from government negates the purpose of giving it any autonomy. “Exclusion of the services means civil servants fail to be accountable to the people through the chain of command,” he argued. “You are negating the will of the people.”

Singhvi told the court that if the Delhi government lacks control over the civil services, the city’s functioning would come to a standstill on every petty issue, PTI reported. “There is a famous saying in Hindi ‘Ek myan mein do talwar nahi rah sakte [there cannot be two swords in one sheath],” he said.

However, the court said that the Delhi government will have to concede that the subjects of public order, police and land are outside its purview. “So, if civil servants are posted with departments dealing with these, then it will be outside your executive power also,” it said.

Article 239AA(3) of the Constitution grants the Delhi Legislative Assembly the power to make laws with respect to all but three entries in the state list. These entries are public order, police and land.

The Union government had filed the plea to refer the matter to a Constitutional bench seeking a holistic interpretation of the Article.

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, is bound by the “aid and advice” of the council of ministers of the Delhi government in all matters under its jurisdiction.