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Delhi Government Case Vs LG

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States, Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure


Source: IE

 Context: The Supreme Court of India has given the state government of Delhi complete control over administrative services in the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCTD), except for public order, police, and land.


Background of the Issue: 

The Delhi government and Lieutenant Governor have been in a legal battle since 2015 over control of “services” in Delhi. The Supreme Court gave a split verdict in 2019, and a five-judge Constitution Bench has now delivered its verdict on the issue of control and whether officers allocated to Delhi come under the administrative control of the Delhi government or Delhi LG. The case also included the constitutional validity of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act 2021, which referred to the Lieutenant Governor as the “government” in any law made by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi.


What is the Verdict of the SC?

Powers of LGLt. Governor shall be bound by the decision of the Delhi government over services, apart from public order, police and land.
Powers of Central governmentCentre had exclusive legislative and executive control over ‘services’ relating to public order, land and police as envisaged under Article 239AA.
Federalism in UTThe Centre had argued that the Constitution is a federal Constitution with a strong unitary bias as far as UTs are concerned.


Contradicting it, SC said that Indian federalism is not unitary and any further expansion of the Union’s power will be contrary to the Constitutional scheme.

Powers to the elected governmentIf a democratically elected government is not given the power to control the officers, the principle of the triple chain of accountability (Political, Administrative and Public accountability) will be redundant.
Principle of collective responsibilityIt extends to the responsibility of officers, who in turn report to the ministers. If the officers stop reporting to the ministers or do not abide by their directions, the entire principle of collective responsibility is affected.

About Article 239 AA

The Constitution (69th Amendment) Act, 1991 inserted Article 239 AA in the Constitution, giving special status to Delhi and establishing an Administrator and a Legislative Assembly. The Assembly has the power to make laws for the NCT of Delhi, except for police, public order, and land. The L-G has dual control and can either act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers or refer a difference of opinion to the President. This power tussle between the elected government and the L-G has been a point of contention.


How UTs are administered?

The Union Territories (UTs) in India are administered by the President through an appointed administrator, who represents the President and exercises administrative powers in the UT. The judiciary in the UTs is governed by the Constitution and laws made by the Parliament. In some UTs, such as Delhi and Puducherry, the administrator holds significant powers, including the ability to make laws and regulations for the UT, while in others, the administrator’s powers are limited to providing advice to the elected government.


Special provision for Delhi UT:

Special provisions have been made for certain UTs, such as Puducherry, Delhi, and Jammu and Kashmir (yet to be constituted), which have a legislative assembly and a Council of Ministers headed by a Chief Minister. The legislative assembly of these UTs has the power to make laws with respect to matters enumerated in List II or List III in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution insofar as these matters are applicable in relation to the UT.

However, some entries in List II, such as public order, police, and land, are not within the legislative competence of the legislative assembly of Delhi.


Quotes used by SC:

Quote 1: “The principles of democracy and federalism are essential features of our Constitution and form a part of the basic structure.

Quote 2: “Federalism is a means to reconcile the desire of commonality along with the desire for autonomy and accommodate diverse needs in a pluralistic society”


Insta Links:

Centre-Delhi row heads to Constitution Bench


Mains Links:

Whether the Supreme Court Judgement (July 2018) can settle the political tussle between the Lt. Governor and the elected government of Delhi? Examine. (UPSC 2018)


Prelims Links: 

In the context of India, which one of the following is the characteristic appropriate for bureaucracy? (UPSC 2020)

  1. An agency for widening the scope of parliamentary democracy
  2. An agency for strengthening the structure of federalism
  3. An agency for facilitating political stability and economic growth
  4. An agency for the implementation of public policy


Ans: 4


Which of the following are the discretionary powers given to the Governor of a State? (UPSC 2014)

  1. Sending a report to the President of India for imposing the President’s rule
  2. Appointing the Ministers
  3. Reserving certain bills passed by the State Legislature for consideration of the President of India
  4. Making the rules to conduct the business of the State Government


Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 2, 3 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4


Ans: 2