In a unanimous judgment, a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud ruled in favour of the elected government of Delhi, granting it authority over legislative and executive power of services except police, public order and land. The Lieutenant Governor (LG) will retain powers in an administrative capacity as delegated by the President, the ruling said.
The ruling affirmed that the Delhi government will possess administrative authority over the posting and transfer of officers, except police and the Lieutenant Governor must adhere to the government's aid and advice.
Division of power
- The Central government through the LG will execute and the Parliament would legislate on police, public order and land in the national capital.
- The state government apart from control over posting and transfer of officers will continue having control over other matters relating to education, women and child welfare, health, labour, food and supply, social welfare, cooperatives, revenue, and transport, to name a few.
- The local government (MCD) and cantonment boards headed by the Mayor look into subjects like town planning, socio-economic development, water supply and sanitation, primary schooling, etc.
Series of disputes between the Delhi govt and the LG
The unique nature of the Union Territory where Delhi, governed by a Lieutenant Governor (LG) who acts on the aid and advice of the council of ministers, except in matters related to public order, police, and land has resulted in the power struggle between the two authorities wherein the L-G can refer disagreements with the Council of Ministers to the President.
- In 2014, the LG's decision to dissolve the Delhi Assembly and call for fresh elections was met with criticism from AAP, alleging interference in the democratic process.
- In 2015, LG and the state government confronted each other after the latter called for not routing files through LG's office to improve efficiency. The government also hinted at the unclear demarcation of powers between the two. The recent SC ruling is a result of a 2015 Home Ministry gazette giving the Center to transfer and post officers.
- The Delhi government accused the LG of delaying the implementation of several schemes, including 'Red Light On Gaadi Off' in 2020, which aimed to curb vehicular pollution, and the extension of power subsidy.
- LG Anil Baijal, in 2020, overturned the AAP government's rejection of the Delhi Police's panel of lawyers for legal representation in Delhi riots cases.
- Last year in 2022, the conflict escalated after the LG advised the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the alleged irregularities in the development and execution of the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22. Consequently, former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was arrested, and Kejriwal was questioned.
- The AAP accused LG V K Sinha of appointing a BJP councillor to oversee mayoral polls instead of the senior-most councillor and nominating 10 aldermen with BJP affiliations, violating the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957.
- The Delhi government accused the LG of not approving the "Dilli Ki Yogshala" scheme and alleged that the finance department, under the LG's influence, did not authorize funds for essential expenses like power bills, rent, lab tests, and doctors' salaries at mohalla clinics.
- Recently the AAP accused the bureaucracy of non-cooperation under the influence of the LG, resulting in significant delays in projects of the Delhi Jal Board to improve water supply and clean the Yamuna River. The LG also sought a report on the expenditure of ₹44.78 crore for Kejriwal's residence renovation.
- A recent dispute arose when the AAP alleged LG Saxena influenced the Special Power Secretary to instruct the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) to conduct a Special Audit of Distribution Companies to evaluate the transparency and effectiveness of subsidies provided by the Delhi Government between 2016 and 2022.