Why have elected government in Delhi if Centre controls officers’ postings, SC asks
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court that Delhi is a Union Territory, which means that the Centre should administer the territory.
The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned what purpose would be served by an elected government in Delhi if the Centre retains control over postings of civil servants, Bar and Bench reported.
A constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud is hearing a dispute between the Centre and the Delhi government about the scope of the Union government’s executive powers in the national capital and its control over administrative services.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that Delhi is a Union Territory and is thus an extension of the Union. “The very purpose of creating a geographical area as a UT shows that the Union wants to administer the territory,” he contended, according to PTI.
To this, Chief Justice Chandrachud asked: “If everything is at the beck and call of the central government, then what is the use of an elected government?”
Mehta said that the elected government will have functional control over officers. He said that he was arguing on the point of administrative control, or the postings and transfers of officers.
However, Chief Justice Chandrachud asked whether the Delhi government cannot transfer officers who do not discharge their functions properly. “You say there is no jurisdiction of Delhi government in such postings like in education, environment etc?” he asked. “What is the use?”
Mehta said that under the Constitution, there are central and state services, while Union Territories have have no public service commissions, PTI reported.
The solicitor general said that Delhi is a “cosmopolitan, miniaturised India” and belongs to the whole country. He cited the status of Delhi as the national capital to argue for the control of the Centre over administrative services.
“If the national capital is under siege and the arterial road connecting to the capital is blocked with permanent structure and if the government of Delhi sends food, it is the responsibility of the bureaucrat to communicate to the LG that this is the capital and the capital cannot be under siege,” Mehta said, according to The Indian Express.
The Delhi government on Tuesday argued before the constitution bench that it cannot function unless it has the power to create posts, appoint persons and change them as needed.
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.
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.