Delhi belongs to the entire nation: Centre to apex court

Reiterates power over Capital lies with President, Union govt

Published - November 23, 2017 01:45 am IST - NEW DELHI

NEW DELHI, 09/04/2013: Supreme Court of India in New Delhi on April 10,  2013. 
Photo: S. Subramanium

NEW DELHI, 09/04/2013: Supreme Court of India in New Delhi on April 10, 2013. Photo: S. Subramanium

Delhi does not belong just to the people of Delhi but to the entire nation and the final word of governance of the National Capital lies with the President and the Union government, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

“What will happen if tomorrow or in the near future an elected government (in Delhi) decides that Republic Day cannot be held in the traditional route but somewhere else?,” Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, for the Centre, posed the question before a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

HC judgment

The Bench is hearing the Centre in a batch of a dozen appeals filed by Delhi government challenging an August 4 judgment of the Delhi High Court declaring the Lieutenant-Governor as the sole administrator of the National Capital Territory.

Mr. Singh, on his legs for the second consecutive day of arguments before the Bench, argued that the L-G is not bound by the aid and advice of Delhi’s Council of Ministers. Delhi has been conferred a special status among Union Territories and it cannot wear the mantle of a State.

Questioning this contention, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, on the Bench, observed that the L-G could, of course, exercise his discretion in certain areas, but it cannot mean that he is completely outside the aid and advice of the Delhi Cabinet.

When Chief Justice Misra asked whether L-G can keep all the powers to himself, Mr. Singh responded that though the L-G “cannot take a decision or pass orders on his own, all decisions of the government prior and after must be communicated to the L-G”. The Delhi government, in short, has to work with the L-G.

‘Not undemocratic’

Responding to Delhi government’s submissions made earlier that the L-G cannot assume all the powers and thus shortchange a democratically-elected government which carries with it the aspirations of the people, Mr. Singh said it was not undemocratic for the Centre to assume control as it is contemplated in the Constitution.

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