The Supreme Court will now hear together the Delhi Government’s civil suit seeking a declaration that the national capital is a state and its petition against the order of the High Court which held that the city is a Union Territory with Lt Governor as its administrative head. This was stated by a bench of Justices A K Sikri and N V Ramana on Friday after the Arvind Kejriwal government informed the apex court that it will file an appeal shortly against Thursday’s High Court verdict.
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As AAP government’s earlier suit came up for hearing, the court said that instead of pursuing its earlier civil suit, the city government should file an appeal challenging the Delhi High Court’s decision. “You have to challenge the order of the Delhi High Court. Whether the High Court has decided the issue rightly or wrongly would be decided by the Supreme Court in a Special Leave Petition (SLP). What is the use of this suit now. What is the point in duplicating the proceedings,” a bench of Justices A K Sikri and N V Ramana said.
The observation came when senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the Arvind Kejriwal government, informed the bench that a fresh appeal would be filed shortly in the apex court against the decision of the High Court. She sought adjournment of the proceedings on the original civil suit earlier filed by Delhi government seeking various reliefs including a declaration that the national capital is a state and not a Union Territory(UT). She said that the law suit and the SLP, which will be filed shortly, be heard together.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, both representing the Centre, vehemently opposed the plea of Delhi government saying that they cannot pursue parallel recourse for the same relief. The bench termed one of the applications of the Delhi government as infructuous in which it had sought directions restraining the High Court from pronouncing verdict on its petition on the conflict of power with the LG. During the brief hearing, the bench asked the Delhi government to apprise it about the issues already addressed by the High Court in its verdict on Thursday.
The bench considered the submissions of Delhi government and adjourned the hearing on the lawsuit to August 29. It, however, clarified that the lawsuit and the SLP will be heard together. The Chief Justice of India will decide which bench will hear the matter. The high court had on Thursday held that Delhi will continue to remain a Union territory under the Constitution with the LG as its administrative head. The special constitutional provision Article 239AA dealing with Delhi does not “dilute” the effect of Article 239 which relates to the Union territory and hence, concurrence of the LG in administrative issues is “mandatory”, the bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini had said.
The high court did not accept AAP government’s contention that the LG is bound to act only on the aid and advice of the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers with regard to making laws by the Legislative Assembly under the Article 239AA and termed it as “without substance”. “On a reading of Article 239 and Article 239AA of the Constitution together with the provisions of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 and Transaction of Business of the Government of NCT of Delhi Rules, 1993, it becomes manifest that Delhi continues to be a Union Territory even after the Constitution (69th Amendment) Act, 1991 inserting Article 239AA making special provisions with respect to Delhi,” the bench said in its 194-page verdict.
The court, which had rejected almost all the contentions of Delhi government, however, agreed with its submission that the LG will have to act on its aid and advice in appointment of special public prosecutors.