"2 Swords Can't....": Delhi To Supreme Court On Tussle With Centre

The Delhi government on Tuesday, informed the Supreme Court that a government cannot function if it does not have control over services.

Exclusion of civil servants will negate governance and render officials unaccountable to people, the Aam Aadmi Party government told the five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Delhi government said, "Delhi's running would come to a standstill on every petty issue. There is a famous saying in Hindi 'Ek myan mein do talwar nahi rah sakte (there cannot be two swords in one sheath)."

The bench also comprising Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha was told by Singhvi that services were at the core of the dispute and the issue was whether civil servants serving in the NCT of Delhi are accountable through the government to the people who elected the Delhi Government.

He added, "There is a chain. The civil servants should be accountable to the ministers. Second, the minister is accountable to the legislature and then finally the MLAs are accountable to the people...hence, the control over the government servants should be with the (Delhi) government."

For any government to exist, it should have the ability to create a post, appoint staff to the post and the power to interchange them, Singhvi further contended, adding that unless a government has this power, it cannot function as ministers create policies and the implementation depends upon the civil services which must be answerable to the people through the elected representatives.

The Supreme Court will resume hearing the matter on Wednesday.

The top court has to decide to raise legal issues concerning the scope of legislative and executive powers of the Centre and Delhi government over control of services in the national capital.

The case was posted before a Constitution bench after a three-judge bench had in May last year decided to send it to a larger bench on a request by the Central government.

On February 14, 2019, a two-judge Bench of the top court delivered a split verdict on the question of powers of the GNCTD and Union government over services and referred the matter to a three-judge Bench.

While Justice Ashok Bhushan had ruled the Delhi government has no power at all over administrative services. Justice AK Sikri, however, had said the transfer or posting of officers in top echelons of the bureaucracy (joint director and above) can only be done by the Central government and the view of the lieutenant governor would prevail in case of a difference of opinion for matters relating to other bureaucrats.

The two-judge bench which was hearing pleas on six matters pertaining to a long-running conflict between the Centre and the Delhi government had given a unanimous order on the remaining five issues except for the control over services.

Governance of the national capital has witnessed a power struggle between the Centre and the Delhi government since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power in 2014.

Prior to February 2019 judgement, a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court had on July 4, 2018, laid down the broad parameters for governance of the national capital. In the landmark verdict, it had unanimously held that Delhi cannot be accorded the status of a state but clipped the powers of the LG saying he has no "independent decision-making power" and has to act on the aid and advice of the elected government.

It had restricted the jurisdiction of the LG to matters pertaining to land, police and public order and on all other matters, it held that the LG would have to act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Originally Published at NDTV News-India-news

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