Supreme Court today unanimously ruled in favor of the Delhi government on the issue of controlling the bureaucracy in the national capital. A 5-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud held that the legislature has control over bureaucrats in the administration of services except in areas outside the legislative powers of the National Capital Territory (NCT). There are three areas outside the control of the Delhi government: public order, police and land. The CJI said an ideal conclusion would be that the Delhi government should take control of the services, subject to the exclusion of matters outside the legislative purview
What did the CJI say?
The CJI said, it is necessary for the elected government to have control over the administration. A bench headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice DY Chandrachud did not agree with the 2019 judgment of Justice Ashok Bhushan in which it was said that Delhi has no right over the services.
The Lieutenant Governor will have to accept the advice of the government – SC
The Supreme Court said, the right of posting and transfer of officers will be with the Delhi government. The elected government should have the right of administrative service. If the elected government does not have the authority to administer the system, then the triple chain accountability is not fulfilled. The Lieutenant Governor will have to accept the advice of the government. The authority of police, public order and land will remain with the center.
What is the Delhi Government Vs Center dispute?
The Delhi government had told the court that appointments of bureaucrats were cancelled, files were not cleared and basic decision-making was hampered. In a landmark judgment the next year, the apex court said that Delhi’s elected government is the boss. The court clarified that the Lieutenant Governor has “no independent decision-making powers” under the Constitution, except in issues relating to land, police and public order.
A three-judge bench referred the matter to a constitution bench on the Centre’s request.
The lieutenant governor, the court said, has to act on the aid and advice of the elected government and cannot act as “an obstructionist”. The judges said, “There is no place for autocracy and there is no place for anarchism either.” Later, a regular bench considered appeals relating to individual aspects including services. However, the Delhi government appealed citing the division bench’s verdict. After this, a three-judge bench referred the matter to the constitution bench on the request of the Centre.
Center’s argument in the matter
During a hearing by a Constitution bench in January, when the Center had argued that the “very purpose” of having a Union Territory was that “the Union seeks to administer the territory,” the court questioned in that case, the purpose of having a Union Territory. What was the elected government in Delhi Just before the constitution bench reserved its verdict, the Center had demanded a hearing before a larger bench. The Chief Justice said that such a request should have been made at the very beginning and if it had been done, he would have looked at the matter differently.
Controversy started after 2014
Since Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party came to power in 2014, Delhi’s administration has been grappling with a power struggle between the Center and the Delhi government. The transfers and postings of officers were one of the first flashpoints between Mr Kejriwal’s government and the Lt Governor. Mr. Kejriwal often complained that he could not even appoint a “peon” or transfer an officer. He also said that the bureaucrats did not follow the orders of his government as their cadre controlling authority was the Ministry of Home Affairs.
SC verdict on services
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