The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed a provision of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act that empowered the lieutenant governor to hear appeals against the orders passed by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) appellate tribunal.
A bench of justice GS Singhvi and justice AK Ganguly declared the provision as unconstitutional and said a constitutional authority with executive role cannot sit over the judgments passed by a quasi-judicial authority that is the tribunal. The bench added that this was against the rule of law.
The bench gave its ruling while upholding an appeal filed by Amrik Singh Lyallpuri who had challenged a Delhi high court judgement that took a contrary view. Lyallpuri had raised the constitutional validity of Section 347D of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957.
The petitioner had contended that appeals against orders of the Appellate Tribunal set-up to hear orders passed by the Zonal Engineer (Buildings) could not be decided by the lieutenant governor.
The government defended the provision saying the Lt Governor had no connection with the state and is totally independent. Therefore, when he hears the appeal, he does it as an independent appellate authority.
“This court is unable to accept the aforesaid contention. It is not suggested for a moment that the administrator, who is the lieutenant governor in Delhi, is not acting independently,” the bench said, adding, “The question is: having regard to the concept of rule of law and judicial review, whether a review by an executive authority of a decision taken by the judicial or quasi-judicial authority, which has the trappings of the court, is permissible.”