Arguments Summary Day 9: November 22, 2017

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the Union of India resumed 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. Yesterday, he contended that the specific provisions for Delhi under Article 239AA do not grant it the status of a state. Today he elaborated on this particular argument by asserting that the provisions of Article 239AA do not preclude the application of other related articles.

The thrust of Mr Maninder Singh’s arguments was that the President, through the LG was the head of the government of NCT, and not the Chief Minister. He began by arguing that the LG 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 further added that the business of the Government should be carried in the name of the LG and not the Chief Minister. He referred to Article 239AB under which LG 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 239AA 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 239AA was 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 arguments on 23.11.2017.