SC’s Constitution Bench to hear pleas on Delhi government’s powers

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday referred to a Constitution Bench a batch of petitions filed by Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal-led government over conflict with the Centre over the powers to administer the national capital.

Referring the matter for adjudication to the Constitution Bench, a bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice R.K. Agrawal said the issue involved important question of law and the Constitution.

Not framing the questions to be adjudicated by the Constitution Bench, the court asked the Centre and the Kejriwal government to argue their respective cases before the larger bench.

The Delhi government, through a clutch of petitions, has challenged a Delhi High Court verdict that upheld the primacy of the Lt. Governor in the governance of the national capital.

The Delhi government’s counsel told the bench that they will mention the matter before Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar for early setting up of the Constitution Bench because governance of Delhi was impeded due to the conflict over its powers.

In the course of the hearing spread over more than a month, the Kejriwal government told the apex court that the Indian Constitution has given face and identity to the Delhi government which is accountable and the Centre could not have a de facto control over the national capital’s administration.

The Delhi government contended that it cannott be treated subservient to an overriding authority of the Lt. Governor, who was sworn in under the Constitution.

The hearing also saw the court favouring a balance in the exercise of powers by the Delhi government and the Lt. Governor for good governance.

Delhi was given an assembly and an elected government through Article 239 (AA) incorporated in the Constitution by the 69th amendment in 1991.