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LG does not sit on files as alleged by AAP government: Centre tells SC

Responding to the persistent allegation of delay on the part of the LG, the Centre said in last three years, 96% files or proposals have been cleared within 2-3 days of receipt by the Lieutenant Governor.

delhi Updated: Nov 29, 2017 20:54 IST
Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Lieutenant Governor,AAP government,Arvind Kejriwal
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (L) with Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal.(File)

The Centre on Wednesday refuted Arvind Kejriwal government’s charge in the Supreme Court that the Lieutenant Governor (LG) sits over its proposals and files and asserted that 96% of its decisions were approved by the LG within two-three days.

The central government told a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules provided that every proposal or decision of the city government was required to be simultaneously presented before the Lieutenant Governor for the approval.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, representing the Centre, was responding to the observation of the bench that the LG was only required to be apprised of the decisions of the Delhi government on matters where the state assembly has the power to make laws.

The bench, also comprising Justices AK Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, said the Delhi government can have “co-extensive executive powers” on entries of the state and concurrent lists of the Constitution where state assembly was also empowered to legislate.

Responding to the persistent allegation of delay on the part of the LG, the ASG said “in last three years, 96% files or proposals have been cleared within 2-3 days of receipt by the Lieutenant Governor”.

He referred to the provisions of the Delhi Fire Service Act, cleared by the Delhi assembly, and said the LG was described as the government under the statute.

“This is the obligation on the part of the chief minister and the council of ministers to send every file or proposal to the LG. The LG cannot act in the air. He has to apply his mind as to whether to agree or differ on a proposal,” Singh said.

He said that Article 239AA, which deals with powers and status of Delhi under the Constitution, needed to be interpreted literally and it said the LG has to be on board and in case of difference of opinion, the issue would be referred to the President for the final decision.

The top court is hearing a clutch of appeals filed by the AAP government challenging Delhi High Court’s verdict holding LG as the administrative head of the national capital.

The advancing of arguments remained inconclusive and would resume on Thursday.

Earlier, the Centre had said the Delhi government cannot have “exclusive” executive powers as it would be against national interests and had referred to the 1989 report of the Balakrishnan committee that had also dealt with reasons for not granting it the status of a state.

It had said the Constitution did not provide “vertical division” of powers between the Centre and Delhi which enjoys a special status among all UTs.

It had referred to the Constitution, the 1991 Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act and the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules to drive home the point that the President, the union government and the LG had supremacy over the city dispensation in administering the national capital.

The Centre had maintained that the national capital belonged to all Indians and not just to those residing in Delhi, while also arguing that Article 239AA of Constitution, which deals with power and status of Delhi, was a “complete code” in itself.

On the other hand, the Delhi government had accused the LG of making a “mockery of democracy”, saying he was either taking decisions of an elected government or substituting them without having any power.

First Published: Nov 29, 2017 20:43 IST