In a jolt to AAP, Delhi HC holds Lt. Governor as administrative head

The court pronounces all commissions of inquiry set by AAP government as "illegal."

August 04, 2016 11:29 am | Updated November 29, 2021 01:12 pm IST - New Delhi

Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung (left) administers the oath of office to Arvind Kejriwal as Chief Minister, during the swearing-in ceremony, at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on February 14, 2015

Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung (left) administers the oath of office to Arvind Kejriwal as Chief Minister, during the swearing-in ceremony, at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on February 14, 2015

In a big blow to the Aam Aadmi Party government's fight for Statehood for Delhi and control of power with the Union government, the Delhi High Court on Thursday held that National Capital Territory continues to be a Union Territory and the Lieutenant Governor is its administrative head.

With this, a series of moves made by the Delhi government such as >commissions of inquiry into the CNG fitness scam, Delhi and District Cricket Association illegalities, policy directions to electricity regulatory commission for compensation to people for disruption in power supply, were declared illegal by the court since the same were made without the approval or views of the Lieutenant Governor.

Bringing an end to tussle between the cabinet form of governance in Delhi and the Lieutenant Governor, a Bench headed by Chief Justice G. Rohini held that “The matters connected with 'Services' fall outside the purview of the Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi... Therefore, the direction in the impugned Notification [of the Centre] of February, 2015 that the Lt. Governor of the NCT of Delhi shall in respect of matters connected with 'Services' exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the Central Government to the extent delegated to him from time to time by the President is neither illegal nor unconstitutional.”

Delhi government to approach Supreme Court

Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the > Aam Aadmi Party government will approach the Supreme Court . "Only SC can articulate the Constitution the right way," he said.

When asked about the future of the inquiry commissions set up by the Delhi government to probe various alleged scams, he said they have to yet get a copy of the order and peruse it.

"We don't know exactly what the High Court has said in its judgment and about the legality of our commissions," he said, adding, that in the past one year, they were already not able to take up any cases of corruption as the Anti-Corruption Branch is under the Centre.

Also read: >Delhi government vs. Najeeb Jung turf war

Inquiry commissions declared illegal

The Bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath held that it is mandatory under the constitutional scheme to communicate the decision of the Council of Ministers to the Lt. Governor even in relation to the matters in respect of which power to make laws has been conferred on the Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi.

Following its decision, the court declared as illegal all Commissions of Inquiry appointed without the approval of the LG such as the Commission of Inquiry for inquiring into all aspects of the award of work related to grant of CNG Fitness Certificates, the Commission of Inquiry to inquire into the allegations regarding irregularities in the functioning of Delhi and District Cricket Association.

The court dismissed a bunch of nine petitions centered on common issues relating to the exercise of legislative power and executive control in the administration of National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCTD).

In its 194-page judgement, the court concluded that “On a reading of Article 239 and Article 239AA of the Constitution together with the provisions of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 and the Transaction of Business of the Government of NCT of Delhi Rules, 1993, it becomes manifest that Delhi continues to be a Union Territory even after the Constitution (69th Amendment) Act, 1991 inserting Article 239AA making special provisions with respect to Delhi.”

The Bench held that Article 239 of the Constitution “continues to be applicable to NCT of Delhi and insertion of Article 239AA has not diluted the application of Article 239 in any manner.”

It is to be noted that while Article 239 provides that every Union territory shall be administered by the President acting, to such extent as he thinks fit, through an administrator to be appointed by him and provides to the President the power to appoint a Governor as the administrator of the UT.

Article 239AA provided special provisions stating the Union territory of Delhi shall be called the NCTD and there shall be a Legislative Assembly for the National Capital Territory and the seats in such Assembly shall be filled by members chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the National Capital Territory.

On Anti-Corruption Branch

In a major development, the court upheld the notification of the Centre that the the Anti-Corruption Branch Police Station shall not take any cognizance of offences against officers, employees and functionaries of the Central Government.

The Bench held it to be in accordance with “the constitutional scheme and warrants no interference”.

The court held as illegal the appointment of Nominee Directors of Government of NCT of Delhi on Board of BSES Rajdhani Power Limited, BSES Yamuna Power Limited and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited by the Delhi Power Company Limited on the basis of the recommendations of the Chief Minister of Delhi without communicating the decision of the Chief Minister to the Lt. Governor of NCT of Delhi for his views.

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