The Centre Tuesday told the Supreme Court that Delhi was not a state and the Constitution has not vested any exclusive executive powers on the National Capital Territory government. “Article 239 AA (4) (of the Constitution which confers special powers on Delhi) gives them (Delhi government) no exclusive executive powers,” ASG Maninder Singh, appearing for the Centre, told a five-judge Constitution Bench hearing the AAP government’s appeal challenging the Delhi High Court judgment, which upheld the administrative powers of the Lieutenant Governor.
“For any Centrally administered territory… and especially Delhi in respect of its unique position… responsibility is on the shoulders of the Union government,” the ASG told the bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice A K Sikri, Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice D Y Chandrachud.
Singh said the Constitution-makers never intended to give full statehood to Delhi. The Constitution clearly defines both Union Territory and State and if UT had to be read as state, then it would expressly state so, he said. “Unless there is a specific reference, we can’t read that into the entirety of the Constitution,” Singh contended, referring to the AAP government’s argument that the GST Bill had put the UT on an equal footing as a state.
He submitted that the court could not enable through interpretation what the Parliament did not intend to. For any authority to exercise the executive powers of the Union, it need to be vested in that authority, he said. “If I need to spend money for something, the money has to first come to my pocket… Similarly in this case, the executive power is vested in the President for the Union and Governor for state”, Singh pointed out. He said that in 1987, the Central government had constituted a committee to consider the demands of various political parties to give full statehood to Delhi.
The ASG also rejected the charge that the L-G was acting on his own and sitting on files. Of the nearly 600 files that came to the L-G in the last three years, only three were referred to the President due to difference of opinion, he said. Even these three related to functioning of police, which fell in the exclusive domain of the Centre, he said. The rest were disposed of at the secretariat level, Singh added.
“It is alleged that so many meetings are held by L-G, but we (AAP government representatives) are not invited. All meetings held in Delhi, Chief Minister or ministers of the government are part of it,” the ASG said. The Delhi Government had moved the HC challenging a Ministry of Home Affairs notification, claiming that it conferred unprecedented powers on the L-G. Rejecting the AAP government’s stand, the HC ruled in August this year that “the contention of the Delhi government… is without substance and cannot be accepted.”