New Delhi, Nov 7 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that prima facie it appears that it was obligatory for the Delhi government to intimate the Lt Governor of all decision taken by the Council of Ministers as it observed that the difference between the Lt. Governor and the Chief Minister should not be over trivial matters.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra also said that while differing with the decision taken by the Council of Ministers, the Lt. Governor should keep in mind the citizens’ trust and the august office he was holding.
The five-judge constitution bench, also comprising Justice A.K.Sikri, Justice A.M.Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan, said that it was not necessary for the Lt. Governor to concur with every aid and advice given by the Council of Ministers and there are certain areas where Delhi government has to take prior consent of the Lt. Governor before taking any decision.
It further said that the areas where Lt. Governor acts on the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers is limited because unlike the states, the executive powers of the Delhi government being a union territory are limited.
The court said this as senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the Delhi government, told the constitution bench that once they had the legislative powers, the Lt. Governor is bound to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
As Subramanium said that in the event of differences beten the Lt. Governor and the Council of Ministers, the former was duty bound to refer the matter to the President for decision, Justice Sikri asked him if in that situation, the President would decide the matter on his own or act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
He said that the matter would be decided by the Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs looking after union territories.
The constitution bench is hearing a batch of petitions by Delhi government and others challenging Delhi High Court order holding the Lt. Governor held the primacy and had final say in the administration of Delhi.
The bench repeatedly confronted Subramanium with the proviso 4 in the Constitution’s Article 239AA which says that Council of Ministers will aid and advise the Lt. Governor on the matters on which the state assembly can make laws and in the event of difference of opinion, the Lt. Governor would refer the matter to the President for decision. In the intervening period, if Lt. Governor feels that matter requires to be attended to urgently, then he would take the decision.
Article 239AA spells out special provisions with respect to Delhi.
The bench also read to Subramanium Article 239(1) which says that President would administer the union territory through Lt. Governor who will be the administrator.
Addressing the query from the bench, Subramanium said that the Proviso 4 should read as an integral whole of the Article 239AA and not separately. He then dwelt on the principle involved in the interpretation of a constitutional provisions that includes constitutional morality, equality, welfare of people and public trust.
He said that a proviso can’t subsume the main Article.
Referring to the instances where Lt. Governor sat on the decisions taken by the Arvind Kejriwal government, Subramanium said he took one whole year in clearing the file for setting up of Mohalla clinics, and the file for the hiking of the minimum wages.
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