On 22.11.2017, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the Union of India continued with his arguments before the five-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud, A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan.
The thrust of Mr Maninder Singh’s arguments was that the President, through the Lt. Governor (LG), was the head of the government of National Capital Territory (NCT), and not the Chief Minister. He began by arguing that the Lt. Governor had over-riding authority to decide on the Conduct of Business of the NCT government. He relied on the conjoint reading of Article 166(which states that the Governor should make rules for the conduct of business of the State Government) and Sec 44 of GNCT Act (which authorises the Lt. Governor to act independent of the advice of Council of Ministers).
He argued that the business of the Government should be carried in the name of the Lt. Governor and not the Chief Minister. He referred to Article 239AB under which Lt. Governor has the power to suspend the operation of Article 239AA to buttress the argument that the Delhi Government has very limited executive power. He submitted that the Delhi Government has some executive powers but such powers were neither exclusive nor binding on the LG.
Mr Singh then argued that Article 239, which makes the President the executive head of a Union Territory through the LG, should be read with Article 239AA. He argued that the claim of the Delhi Government that Article 239 has application in this case, should be rejected. He also said that since NCT does not have a State Public Service, which is mandated for all States under Article 315, hence NCT was not a State.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra contradicted him by observing that proving that the NCT is not a State was not equivalent to proving that it was a Union Territory. The CJI also hinted that Article 239AAwas a complete code in itself and reliance on Article 239 was not required. Mr Singh concluded his arguments by replying that Article 239AA was integral but not a complete code. Mr Singh will continue his arguemnts on 23.11.2017.