Delhi-Centre row: AAP govt mentions again for hearing in SC plea against amended GNCTD Act, Rules

Delhi-Centre row: AAP govt mentions again for hearing in SC plea against amended GNCTD Act, Rules thumbnail

Synopsis

The Delhi government, in its plea through Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, has sought quashing of the four amended sections of the GNCTD Act and 13 Rules on various grounds such as the violation of the doctrine of basic structure, separation of power, as the LG has been bestowed with more authority.

Agencies
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia (File Pic)

The AAP government on Wednesday sought again an urgent hearing in the Supreme Court of the plea challenging the amended GNCTD Act and some provisions of the Transaction of Business Rules which allegedly give more power to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.

On September 13, the Delhi Government had mentioned the same plea for urgent hearing and the apex court had then agreed to list it.

A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli was urged by senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the Delhi government, that the plea may be listed for hearing.

“A day before, a lawyer mentioned the Delhi-Centre case. Everyday, we have to hear the Delhi government matter only? We will list it, Mr Singhvi, leave it there… We will put it before the appropriate bench,” the bench said.

Singhvi sought to distinguish between the case, which was being mentioned by him for urgent hearing, from the other one which was mentioned on Tuesday by senior advocate Rahul Mehra.

Singhvi said he was seeking listing of a writ petition which pertains to Article 239AA (status of Delhi under the Constitution) and challenged the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Act and 13 Rules of the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993.

The Delhi government, in its plea through Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, has sought quashing of the four amended sections of the GNCTD Act and 13 Rules on various grounds such as the violation of the doctrine of basic structure, separation of power, as the LG has been bestowed with more authority.

The GNCTD Amendment Act, 2021 has come into force after being passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on March 22 and March 24, respectively.

According to the amended Act, the expression ‘Delhi Government’ referred to in any law to be made by the UT’s Legislative Assembly shall mean the Lieutenant Governor.

The plea has alleged that the amended law gives more power to the LG over the elected government and they have “disenfranchised” Delhiites, and violated the principle of federalism by diminishing the constitutionally guaranteed powers and functions of the elected legislative assembly and the council of ministers.

On Tuesday, the city government sought urgent hearing on another plea, arising out of a 2019 split verdict on the contentious issue of who should control administrative services in Delhi. The apex court said that it would set up a bench for hearing it after Diwali vacation.

On February 14, 2019, a two judge-bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, both retired since, recommended to the chief justice of India that a three judge bench be set up to finally decide the issue of control of services in the national capital in view of its split verdict.

Justice Bhushan had ruled the Delhi government has no power at all over administrative services. Justice Sikri, however, made a distinction. He said the transfer or posting of officers in top echelons of the bureaucracy (joint director and above) can only be done by the Central government and the view of the lieutenant governor would prevail in case of a difference of opinion for matters relating to other bureaucrats.

On July 4, 2018, the five-judge Constitution bench had unanimously held that the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is bound by the “aid and advice” of the elected government and both needed to work harmoniously with each other.

It had also laid down broad parameters for governance of the national capital, which has witnessed a power struggle between the Centre and the Delhi government since the AAP came to power in 2014.

The Delhi government has been at loggerheads with the present L-G and his predecessor.

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