This case will decide if Delhi is a Union Territory where Lt. Governor can act independently of Chief Minister or a Special State where Lt. Governor is bound by advice of Chief Minister. It also raises constitutional questions about legislative federalism between Centre and Delhi.
The tussle between Arvind Kejrival, the Chief Minister and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung, ex. Lt. governor lead to legal controversy on the status of NCT (National Capital Territory) – Is it to be treated like Union Territory with Lt. Governor being the executive head or like a State with has elected legislature where Lt. Governor is bound by the advice of Chief Minister. This case was heard by the Delhi High Court because of series of run-ins happening between Arvind Kejrival and Najeeb Jung over matters like appointment of Chief Secretary without consulting the Lt. Governor or Chief Minister instituting corruption enquiries without Lt. Governor’s concurrence.
The confusion arises due to special nature of Delhi where it is Union territory with features of a State like elected legislature. Delhi was a Union Territory but after the 69th Amendment in 1992, Art 239AA was added which mandated elected Assembly for Delhi (now called NCT). These special provisions added through the 69th Amendment has created some confusion with respect to jurisdiction of Delhi Government vis-a vis The Centre.
The Delhi High Court in a judgment delivered on 4th August, 2016 held that Delhi continues to be a Union territory despite addition of a special constitutional provision , Art 239AA which makes special provisions with respect to Delhi. It further held that the special provisions incorporated for Delhi, under Article 239AA of the Constitution, do not overrule the effect of Article 239, which empowers the Lieutenant Governor to act independently of his Council of Ministers.
As a result of this order, all enquiries which were initiated by the Delhi Government without concurrence of Lt. Governor were declared as illegal. These were enquiries into issuance of CNG permit to vehicles, financial enquiry into Delhi and District Cricket Association, among others. Also, the concurrence of the Lt Governor is now mandatory for all administrative decisions of Council of Ministers of Delhi.
The Delhi government has challenged the Delhi High Court decision of August, 2016 which held Delhi to be a Union Territory with Lt. Governor as its administrative head. After briefly engaging with the constitutional confusion over Delhi, the 2 judge bench in Feb 2017, refereed the matter to a constitutional bench. The matter is now listed before CJI Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice A.K. Bhusan
1)Is Delhi to be treated like a Union Territory with Lt. Governor as its administrative head or like a Special State where Lt. Governor is bound by the advice of Chief Minister?
Matter to be placed before Hon’ble Chief Justice for constituting an appropriate Constitutional Bench.
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