The Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi has moved the Supreme Court, asking it to hear its dispute with the Centre on who has administrative control of the Capital.
An SC bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur agreed to hear the petition on July 4.
Mentioning the appeal before the court, senior advocate Indira Jaising said it must restrain the Delhi high court from delivering a judgment on the issue because only the SC can adjudicate the contentious row. She said the AAP government had urged before the HC not to hear the issue and refer it to the SC.
But, the HC reserved its judgments on 10 petitions on the subject matter. Jaising argued that the court had declined to give an order on AAP’s application challenging the HC’s jurisdiction.
At the outset, the CJI was not keen to entertain the petition. He said the appeal can be heard even after the HC’s final verdict. But on Jaising’s insistence he agreed to list the petition.
“No judgment can be allowed to be delivered without decision on the jurisdiction of the Delhi high court with regard to the dispute in question,” the senior lawyer said. She added the AAP government has raised a constitutional question and only the top court can judge it.
The AAP government alleged that it is unable to function as the Lieutenant Governor, at the behest of the Centre, either annuls or changes its decisions on the ground that Delhi is not a complete state.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government wants the apex court to interpret Article 239A, the special provision with respect to Delhi, which is a state but not a full-fledged state.
In its appeal, filed through advocate Chirag Shroff, the Delhi government has alleged that the LG’s interference has adversely affected its power to do public services.
The Delhi government is locked in a power tussle with the L-G on various issues including the control over the Anti-Corruption Branch and power to transfer or retain bureaucrats.
The dispute over how much powers the Delhi government wields and how much have to be conceded to the central government has plagued the Kejriwal government since it took power in February 2015.
Delhi Police, for instance, reports to Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung, a representative of the central government, and not to Kejriwal.
The recurring disputes have led to ugly public spats, with Aam Aadmi Party leader Kejriwal making frequent accusations against Jung as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
(with agency inputs)