Representing the AAP government of Delhi in Supreme Court, the legal team headed by Congress leader and senior advocate P Chidambaram had centered its argument on two main premises: that special provisions conferred by the Constitution had “whittled down the executive power of the Centre” to only three reserved subjects of public order, police, and land; and the Constitution conferred a “Westminster-style cabinet system of government” for the capital. This, the Delhi government submitted, effectively makes the L-G bound by the “aid and advice” of the Council of Ministers.
The AAP government’s legal team extensively quoted B R Ambedkar on federalism in Constituent Assembly debates — and argued that Article 239AA, which gives special status to Delhi, is “an example of the hallmark of federalism in our Constitution, which reserves legislative primacy of Parliament in certain limited areas, but there is no such corresponding provision in the Constitution which reserves the executive powers of the Central government vis-a-vis GNCTD (Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi).”
It argued that the Delhi government has “the sole power to take executive actions on all matters on which the Delhi Legislature is competent to pass laws, irrespective of whether or not the Legislature has actually passed a law on the subject”. In support of this argument, it had laid emphasis on the constitutional principle of “collective responsibility to a democratically elected legislative body” — and on that basis, the Delhi government had argued that the L-G was “bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers of Delhi”.
Importantly, it argued that under Article 73 of the Constitution, there can be “concurrent legislative powers” between Parliament and state Assemblies. However, the AAP government argued, “there can never be concurrent executive powers” between the Central and a state government – such a situation, it told the court, “would result in chaos in the absence of any accountability for executive actions”.
The legal team stated, “Democracy being one of the facets of the basic structure of the Constitution, the 69th amendment was aimed at furthering democracy in Delhi, and hence Article 239AA should be interpreted in the backdrop of the fact that Delhi has been conferred special status among various UTs and in such a way that democracy in its true sense is established in Delhi.”