The L-G Cannot Stultify the Government’s Functioning- Gopal Subramaniam

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Though it has been a now almost the complete term of Arvind Kejriwal led AAP government ruling the NCT of Delhi, there has been a progressive spat of fallout between the Administrator of Delhi, the Lieutenant Governor and the elected head of the Government, the Chief Minister.

The power tussle continued only to be adjudged by the Supreme Court yesterday by a bench constituting of Justice(s) AM Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud, AK Sikri, Ashok Bhushan along with the CJ Dipak Misra.

The counsel for the Delhi Government argued that the actions of the L-G cannot amount to stultifying the government that is elected by the people. The counsel asserted that the public servants were only answering to the executive head of the state while denying any authority to the legislative head of the state.

This fact though very well-known in the legal spheres, the Court should have considered the veracity of the statute giving Delhi partial statehood. The state of Delhi as of today may not be a full state but the fact deserves a value judgement.

The Hon’ble Judges relied on the fact that the Constitution makers would have foreseen the collegiality of the Constitution, the reason why they formulated provisions of Article (s) 239 and 239 AA. They also stressed that though the Articles envisaged a scheme where the real authority seemed to emanate from the L-G, the L-G was still an appointee of the President, who is the ultimate source of power which the L-G exercises.

The arguments and the rationale seems to obliterate the whole process of conducting elections and appointing a government in the NCT of Delhi. It remains a very sane argument that when the elected representatives have no say over the executive, and they exercise no police force, where does the power of being the legislators lie in Delhi.

The Kejriwal government has been accusing the BJP of trying to subvert the Constitutional mandate by trying to use the L-G as a pawn and with the SC taking a stand in the same direction, certain course correction needs to be done by the AAP legislators as well.

The Executive and the Legislative organs of the NCT of Delhi must not forget that both serve the same masters, the Janta, or the citizens of Delhi. The tug of war regarding who wields the authority and who does not mus not be restricted to the show of power between an elected head and an appointed head but they must act in consonance to further the development of Delhi.

The tug-of-war leads to the debasement of Constitutional values and our leaders must take immediate steps to resolve their differences.

The Articles in the Constitution do envisage a scheme which ensures a greater control for the President through his appointee but that is the case because Delhi houses the entire machinery of the nation. All the ambassadors of the countries and foreign offices are situated in Delhi. Thus the mandate to rule the national capital does not just limit itself to the masses of the Delhi, but the people of foreign origin who live their too.

The AAP government must ensure smooth functioning and the L-G must take note of the voices coming over from the elected representatives of the people. The executive officials must never forget that they also serve the same masses. The Court also opined, that not only the L-G derives his power from the President, he may also not sit over any controversial bills or decisions for an indefinite period of time. There must be a reasonable time frame where the L-G communicates with the President the points of contention between the elected head and himself.

The Court denied that there is need for any harmonious construction of the provisions of the Constitution but there has to be an assimilative process which the Court has not fully endorsed. The faith of the masses must be restored in their elected representatives because they need to know why do they elect them! The L-G must not unnecessarily interfere with the functioning of the GNCTD.

If the need be the Central Government must formulate an amendment and carve out a detailed list of powers for the L-G and the CM of Delhi, which will ensure a smooth functioning of welfare programmes and management of the NCT within a suitable framework.

The civil society and all the political parties must unite and demand from the Centre to take up a consultative process wherein they may tackle the issues and put them to rest forever, so that they never erupt in the future.

 

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