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AAP vs lieutenant governor: Can Delhi get executive powers like other states, asks Supreme Court

The Aam Aadmi Party government told the five-judge bench that having ‘two captains of a ship’ would lead to chaos.

Does the division of executive powers between the Centre and states apply to Delhi, the Supreme Court asked on Tuesday. The court was hearing pleas on who enjoys supremacy in governing the national Capital – the Delhi government or the lieutenant governor.

The query from the five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra came after advocate Indira Jaising, who is representing the Aam Aadmi Party government, said having “two captains of a ship” would lead to chaos, PTI reported.

“Everything boils down to day-to-day administration,” Jaising argued. “How can the Centre say that you [Delhi government] cannot have the executive power. I can understand this position on legislative powers,” she added.

At an earlier hearing, the Aam Aadmi Party government had alleged that the Centre, through the lieutenant governor, had paralysed its executive functions. The party said no bureaucrat was obeying the orders of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. During the November 7 hearing, the Supreme Court had observed that the lieutenant governor of Delhi had the power to block decisions of the state government but such disagreements must not be trivial or contrived.

On Tuesday, Jaising said while the Centre has the power to enforce Central laws on subjects in the Union and Concurrent lists of the Constitution, it cannot simply take over saying “you do not have the power”. The lawyer argued, “Just like the executive powers of states and the Centre are defined and made exclusive, “a similar solution needs to be found for Delhi.”

Jaising also pointed out to the bench that there was no reference in the Constitution or in any law that Delhi was the capital of India, The Times of India reported. The bench, however, did not comment.

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