delhi: Delhi-Centre row: Won’t deal with political conflict, will decide constitutional issue on control of services, says Supreme Court


The Supreme Court said on Friday it will step back from the “actual arena of political conflict” between the Delhi government and the Centre and only deal with the constitutional issue related to the control of services in the national capital. Terming the bringing up of the political arena slugfest into the court “unnecessary”, a bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli refused to be drawn into it and made it clear that it will not ask the Centre to respond to a fresh affidavit filed by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

“This is a matter before the Constitution bench. We have filed an affidavit to show the paralysis in administration…. Today, no bureaucrat is responding to the calls of the ministers,” senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the Delhi government, said, adding that he is merely bringing certain facts to the court’s notice.

The bench took note of the vehement opposition of Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, who appeared in the matter for the Centre, to Sisodia’s affidavit that it has been filed when the case is already fixed for hearing.

“This is a very incorrect practice. This affidavit shows political propaganda and was shared with the press earlier than being filed,” the law officer said.

This is a complete abuse of the process of law and moreover, the affidavit asks the Centre to file its reply in a week, Jain added.

“We will not ask for a reply now, otherwise people will start filing affidavits till the last date. We will freeze the pleadings now and let the Constitution bench take up the matter. The opposite side need not file a reply to the affidavit as of now,” the CJI said.

“We will deal with the constitutional issue with regard to control of services. We will step back from the actual arena of political conflict,” the bench said, adding that such political conflicts are part of a democracy.

“You could have said these things without filing the affidavit,” the bench said. Singhvi said the Delhi government has not given a single copy of any document to the press.

A five-judge Constitution bench is scheduled to hear on November 24 the legal issue concerning the scope of the legislative and executive powers of the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi over the control of services in the national capital.

Sisodia, in an affidavit, has told the Supreme Court that Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena has “derailed” governance in Delhi by encouraging the “recalcitrance of civil servants” towards the elected government.

In an affidavit filed before the top court, the AAP government has alleged that Saxena is “running a parallel system of governance in the NCT of Delhi” by taking unilateral executive decisions.

“Civil servants serving in the Government of NCT of Delhi have become indifferent to the elected government. The net result is that the basic day-to-day functioning of the Government of NCT of Delhi stands completely jeopardised.

“The problem has become even more acute with the appointment of the incumbent Lieutenant Governor earlier this year. Any cooperation between the civil servants and the elected government is sought to be penalised and recalcitrance towards the elected government is being encouraged,” the affidavit said.

The AAP government has said the unconstitutional and undemocratic encroachment of the powers of a duly elected government has made governance in Delhi challenging and unnecessarily difficult.

It has contended that this has led to a situation where officials have stopped attending meetings called by the ministers and even stopped taking their calls.

On September 27, the top court said a Constitution bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud (now the CJI) would commence hearing the matter from November 9 on a day-to-day basis.

The other members of the five-judge bench are justices M R Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P S Narasimha.

On May 6, the top court had referred the issue of control of services in Delhi to the Constitution bench.


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