‘Delhi govt is responsible to people and legislature’

Powers of L-G limited before that possessed by Assembly, govt counsel tells SC

Published - November 16, 2017 01:33 am IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi

The Constitution envisages Delhi to have a representative government which is responsible to the people and the legislature, the Delhi government argued before a five-judge Constitution Bench on Wednesday.

The Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra heard senior advocates Indira Jaising and Rajeev Dhavan on the question of the constitutional balance of equation between the Delhi government and the Centre over the administration of the National Capital.

Ms. Jaising argued that the Centre is not without remedy if a State government has gone rogue and is not implementing or complying with its laws.

‘Control’ over States

The senior advocate pointed to Article 257(1) which mandates the Union’s “control” over the States in certain cases.

The Article provides that the executive power of every State shall be exercised in a way which will not impede or prejudice the powers of the Union government. If so, the Article clarifies that the Union’s executive power will extend to “giving of such directions to a State as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose”.

Earlier, senior advocate P. Chidambaram had argued that the legislative powers of the Lieutenant-Governor, as a delegate of the President, is limited before that possessed by the Delhi Legislative Assembly composed of elected representatives of the people.

He had referred to Section 24 of the Government of National Capital Territory Act of 1991 to show that in the case of a Bill passed by the Assembly, the L-G can assent, withhold, refer to the President or, lastly, return if it is not a Money Bill.

Limited options

If the Bill is returned and the Delhi Assembly passes the Bill again, with or without including the amendments suggested by the L-G, the latter has to either give his assent to the Bill or send it to the President in case he has any fundamental objections to it.

“First time the Bill is sent to him, he has four options. The second time he has only two. He has to bow to the will of the people,” Mr. Chidamabaram had submitted.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, also appearing for the Delhi government, said his client does not claim to be “the monarch of all that it sees” but should be allowed to function within the area carved out for an elected government within the democratic framework.

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