New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the Lieutenant Governor does not have the jurisdiction to pronounce if the Delhi government’s decisions are correct or not as he can only, in the situation of disagreement, refer the matter to the President for decision.
“Lieutenant Governor does not have the jurisdiction to decide on the correctness or otherwise of the decisions of Delhi government” said Chief Justice Dipak Misra presiding over the five judge constitution bench.
The Lieutenant Governor can call the Chief Minister and apprise him of his opinion and persuade him on the course which is he thinks is correct or vice-a-versa or refer it to the President in the event of difference of opinion but can’t take upon himself the adjudicatory role, said the court.
The bench also comprising Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan said this while making it clear that it would decide the larger issues on “law and principle” leaving the individual issues for the High Court to decide – a position the top court took while deciding whether right to privacy was a fundamental right.
“We will only lay down the law and the principles. We will decide what kind of State it is and for individual cases, it will go back to two judge bench of High Court,” said the bench.
The court noted that once constitutional perceptions are decided, most of the problems will be solved “their (Delhi government) way or your (Centre) way” as Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the Central government, sought to clear the impression that the Lieutenant Governor was functioning in total disregard of the elected government or was sitting on the files thereby paralysing the fuinctioning of the Arvind Kejriwal government.
Maninder Singh told the court that in every meeting called by the Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, the Chief Minister or the Minister concerned are called and they attend them. Of the 6,300 proposals that were forwarded to the Lieutenant Governor in last three years, 96 per cent of them were cleared and that too within two to three days of their submission, he added.
He said that Anil Baijal stood his ground only in three areas – police, public order and land – which are in the exclusive domain of the centre.
Brushing aside the allegation that Lieutenant Governor sat on the file recommending the hike in minimum wages, the ASG said that the recommendations were not in accord with the procedure and once the procedural requirements were satisfied, the proposal for hike of minimum wages was cleared immediately.
The constitution bench is hearing a batch of petitions by the Delhi government challenging the Delhi High Court order that held that the Lieutenant Governor had the final authority in the governance of the national capital. The centre is defending the High Court verdict.
Besides Maninder Singh, the bench was also addressed by senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Sidhartha Luthra.
Hearing will continue on December 5.