17 July 2023 10:03 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday urged the Delhi Government and the Lieutenant Governor to find an amicable resolution to the deadlock regarding the appointment of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) and come up with a mutually agreed name for the post.Last week, the Court had allowed the Delhi Government to defer the oath taking ceremony for the retired judge who was appointed by...
The Supreme Court on Monday urged the Delhi Government and the Lieutenant Governor to find an amicable resolution to the deadlock regarding the appointment of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) and come up with a mutually agreed name for the post.
Last week, the Court had allowed the Delhi Government to defer the oath taking ceremony for the retired judge who was appointed by the President, while hearing the Government's plea that the candidate was unilaterally nominated by the LG without its concurrence.
Today, the bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha and Justice Manoj Misra wondered if a resolution was not possible through an amicable discussion between the Constitutional functionaries.
"Should everything work through the modalities of the Supreme Court? Can the LG and the Government sit down and decide on the name for Chairperson of DERC? They're constitutional functionaries. They have to rise above political bickering, they have to give an agreed name", CJI DY Chandrachud said.
Senior Advocate Dr.Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Delhi Government and Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the Delhi LG, agreed to get instructions from their respective clients on the matter, even as Singhvi expressed lack of optimism in resolving the impasse without the the intervention of the Supreme Court.
"It's unfortunate that the Delhi govt lawyer starts by saying that he has no hope. The first reaction should be yes, we'll do it", Salve said. Singhvi said that he is just being realistic and expressed anguish at the DERC remaining "headless".
"If both of them sit together and talk to each other, I am sure this can be resolved", CJI Chandrachud said. The bench posted the matter to Thursday to await the outcome of the discussion between the Delhi Government and LG.
The Delhi Government has filed the writ petition challenging the the constitutionality of Section 45D of the GNCTD (Amendment) Ordinance 2023 and also the appointment of former Allahabad High Court Judge Justice Umesh Kumar as the DERC Chairperson. The Delhi Government has argued that Section 45D of the Ordinance, by giving ultimate power to the LG to appoint members of the statutory bodies and commissions of Delhi, is contrary to Constitution and principles of federalism.
Also listed today was another petition filed by the Delhi Government challenging the GNCTD (Amendment) Ordinance, which gives LG overriding control over services. The bench revealed today that it is contemplating a Constitution Bench reference on that issue and posted that matter also to Thursday.
The issue arose when the previous Chairperson of DERC, retired Allahabad High Court Judge, Justice Shabihul Hasnain demitted office on 09.01.2023 upon attaining the age of 65 years. Consequently, on 04.01.2023, a proposal to appoint retired MP High Court Judge, Justice Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava was placed before the LG of NCT of Delhi. However, no action was taken on the proposal made by the Government and the DERC continued functioning without a Chairperson for around 4 months. The LG took the stand that he needs legal advice on whether the opinion of the Delhi High Court Chief Justice is needed for accepting the Delhi Government's proposal.
In April 2023, the Supreme Court issued notice on a writ petition filed by the GNCTD against the Delhi LG's inaction in approving the proposal to appoint Justice Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava.
On May 19, the Supreme Court clarified that as per the Electricity Act 2003, only the concurrence of the Chief Justice of that High Court from which the recomendee judge retired is required and the concurrence of the Delhi High Court Chief Justice is not required. Clarifying this position, the Supreme Court directed the LG to take follow up action.
Since Justice Shrivastava expressed difficulty in accepting the post, the Delhi Government proposed the name of another person - Justice (retired) Sangeet Lodha of the Rajasthan High Court- on June 21. However, on the same day, the President appointed Justice (Retd.) Shri Umesh Kumar of Allahabad High Court as the DERC Chairman