Arguments Summary Day 8: November 21, 2017

The hearings resumed before the five-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud, A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan.

Over the last seven days of hearings, various counsels – Mr Gopal Subramanium, Mr P. Chidambaram, Ms Indira Jaising, Mr Rajeev Dhavan – appearing for the Delhi Government argued on circumscribing the powers of the LG of Delhi to act without the 'aid and advice' of the Delhi Government. Today's proceedings focussed on whether specific provisions for an Union Territory grant it the status of a state.

Today, the proceedings began with Mr Shekhar Naphade arguing for the Delhi Government. He contended that the power to constitute an Enquiry Committee by the Delhi Legislature flows from Article 239AA. As executive power is co-extensive with legislative power, the LG cannot declare the Committee ‘illegal’ without consulting the Delhi Government. He concluded his arguments by stating that in light of the specific law dealing with NCT under Article 239AA, it cannot be interpreted under Article 239 which gives wide powers to the President in administering Union Territories. 

Thereafter, Mr Maninder Singh, the Additional Solicitor General, representing the Centre, began by arguing that the Delhi Government was claiming the powers of a State while it’s constitutional position is that of an Union Territory. He narrowed the ambit of the Delhi Government’s power to municipal governance, which is responsible for the functioning of daily utilities. He conceded that Article 239AA made Delhi a Union Territory with special powers but contended that the Delhi Government cannot claim powers of a State. At this point, Mr Rajeev Dhavan, who appeared for the Delhi Government interjected saying that he had never claimed statehood for Delhi and it was a wrong summarisation of their argument. However, the ASG did not retract his point.

The matter concluded for the day and will be heard next on 22nd November 2017.