The Supreme Court on Friday rejected an AAP government plea to restrain the Delhi high court from giving a ruling on who has administrative control over the capital – the Centre’s representative, the Lieutenant Governor, or the elected government.
The ruling comes as a huge setback for chief minister Arvind Kejriwal who has been accusing the Centre of trying to undermine his government’s authority and putting up roadblocks in smooth functioning of the administration.
“In our considered opinion when the Delhi high court has heard the matter and reserved its judgment on all the issues, including the preliminary issue, it is advisable that high court should pronounce its judgment…,” said a bench of justices Dipak Misra and Uday U Lalit.
The Kejriwal administration had a grouse against the HC, which had earlier declined to decide whether it had the jurisdiction to hear the matter. It said the issue raised by the AAP government was a dispute between a state and the Centre and only the top court could give a finding on it.
But the SC bench said it will not be appropriate for it to intervene at a stage when the HC had reserved its verdict on petitions covering the question AAP government has raised.
“We must respect the HC that has its own independence. Once the HC has reserved the judgment, it is fulfilling its constitutional obligation. And this cannot be compromised,” the bench told AAP government lawyer, senior advocate Indira Jaising who was an additional solicitor general during the UPA tenure.
Justice Misra’s is the third bench before which the matter was listed.
Earlier on July 5, justice LN Rao recused himself from hearing the case. Justice JS Kehar too had declined to be part of the bench taking up the plea.
Jaising had asked the top court to direct the HC to first decide the preliminary issue on jurisdiction of a high court to decide the scope and ambit of its powers to deal with the issues raised in the petition.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi opposed Jaising’s contention. He said the petition was misconceived and showed an old SC order by which the HC was allowed to deliver the verdict on the ambit of administrative power of the state government and Centre.
“HC functions under the constitutional scheme and has its own independence,” the SC said dismissing the petition.