On the fourth day (November 9) of the arguments before the Supreme Court’s Constitution bench hearing the Delhi Government’s dispute with the Centre on the Lt. Governor’s powers vis-a-vis the Council of Ministers, senior counsel, P.Chidambaram submitted that the words “any matter” mentioned in the proviso to Article 239AA (4) should not be construed as “every matter”, and that the LG can only escalate to the President, differences which are fundamental to the governance.
The fact, however, is that the LG is not escalating to the President even on “any matter”, but deciding it all by himself. “Where is the authority for this”, he asked.
Chidambaram argued that Article 239 is subject to two qualifications, namely a law made by Parliament, and his acting through an administrator, to be appointed by the President, to such extent as he thinks fit. Giving various examples, he contended that it will be ultra vires of the Constitution, if the LG interferes in the day-to-day administration of Delhi.
On Wednesday, Chidambaram began arguing that parliamentary democracy is equivalent to representative Government, and provisions of the Constitution must be construed to advance representative Government.
Explaining his viewpoint, he said, the LG, therefore, cannot turn it upside down, and withhold his assent to a Bill or Ordinance. When the Ministry returns a Bill or Ordinance after reconsideration, the LG has no option, but to bow down to the will of the legislature or refer it to the President, he suggested. The LG can’t be treated as representative of the President, or does not exercise all the powers of the President, he said categorically.
Further, he said as Delhi Assembly is empowered to legislate on the state subjects, it should be treated as ‘de facto’ state. The state identity of the NCTD has to be presumed as implied, and it cannot be treated as a shadow of the Centre, he suggested.
Further arguments will continue on November 14.