The Supreme Court on Thursday said the Delhi lieutenant governor should not sit on files for too long and must exercise the power bestowed upon him within reasonable time, the Hindustan Times reported. The court was hearing a plea challenging the Delhi High Court’s 2016 verdict, ruling that the national Capital, a Union Territory, is under the administrative control of its lieutenant governor.

An elected government cannot function without any power at all, Advocate Gopal Subramanium, arguing for the Aam Aadmi Party government, told the Supreme Court, NDTV reported. Subramanium also said that the lieutenant governor cannot use his power under Article 239 AA of the Constitution to “stultify daily governance”.

“We are not questioning parliamentary supremacy, but an elected government cannot be sans any power,” Subramanium told the five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

The AAP government alleged that the Centre had paralysed its executive functions and that no bureaucrat was obeying the orders of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Delhi government vs the LG

On August 4, the Delhi High Court had ruled that the lieutenant governor was the administrative head of the National Capital Region and rejected the AAP government’s contention that the person holding the post needed to act on the advice of the Delhi Cabinet. In its 194-page verdict, the High Court further said that the Union Territory’s Council of Ministers must confer with the lieutenant governor before making key decisions.

The Kejriwal government had moved the High Court after the Home Affairs Ministry passed a notification on May 21, giving “unprecedented powers” on matters such as public order, police and services to then-Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.