‘No tug-of-war if same party runs Delhi, Central govts’

In the past a simple request from State to Centre got things moving, Dhavan tells SC

November 16, 2017 09:53 pm | Updated November 17, 2017 11:19 am IST - NEW DELHI

Rajeev Dhavan

Rajeev Dhavan

After days of legal arguments before a Constitution Bench on the power tussle between Centre and the Delhi government, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said on Thursday that the tug-of-war would not have taken place had the same party been in power at the Centre as well as in Delhi.

Appearing for the Delhi government before the five-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Mr. Dhavan said that in the past when the same party was in power at the Centre and in Delhi, a “simple request” from the State to the Union government would get things moving. Different parties in power left them at loggerheads, with the Lieutenant-Governor constantly trying to convince Delhi that he was “bigger” than its elected government.

Mr. Dhavan said the Lieutenant-Governor was bound by the aid and advice of Delhi’s Council of Ministers. “The Chief Minister is an elected head. The Council of Ministers is not nominated as in the Union Territory of Puducherry, but are elected; and only 10% of the elected representatives become Ministers,” he said.

The senior lawyer said the power of the Council of Ministers to aid and advise the Lieutenant-Governor is derived from the people. The Lieutenant-Governor could not have a difference of opinion on every matter. “Only if I [the Delhi government] cross my powers and Delhi is under threat as it was during the Jat agitation, the Lieutenant-Governor can intervene,” he said.

Mr. Dhavan said the Lieutenant-Governor does not run Delhi; he can only intervene, encourage or warn or refer a matter to the President. “How can he run the allocation of work and personnel in different departments of the government which have sub-departments? Can he say this department will have this officer? It is not his role to transfer personnel...”

However, the court asked whether the government could have such absolute executive powers.

Its powers are subject to scrutiny and difference of opinion from the Lieutenant-Governor. “They [the Council of Ministers] cannot function as they like,” the Bench said.

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