Union Territories are centrally administered but retain their independent identity: SC [Read Judgment]

Union Territories are centrally administered but retain their independent identity: SC [Read Judgment]


We entertained a doubt about the properties of Union Territories being treated as properties of the Union, the Bench said.


The Supreme Court has expressed a doubt as to whether properties of Union Territories can be treated as that of the Union.

The Bench comprising of Justices Anil R. Dave and L. Nageswara Rao made this observation in MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF DELHI VS. NORTH DELHI POWER LTD. (NOW TATA POWER DELHI DISTRIBUTION LTD.) AND ANR. wherein the eligibility of tax over the land of 8,080 sq. meter belonging to North Delhi Power Limited was in question.

The Bench observed: “We entertained a doubt about the properties of Union Territories being treated as properties of the Union. The administration of Union Territories is by the Central Government but that does not mean that Union Territories become merged with the Central Government. They are centrally administered but retain their independent entity. But, we refrain from adjudicating this issue as constitutional questions are not decided unless they directly arise for consideration”

The High Court had remanded back to the Deputy Assessor and Collector of the Respondent-Municipal Corporation of Delhi for determination as to whether North Delhi Power Limited or Delhi Power Company Ltd. is liable to pay property tax. On Appeal, the Supreme Court has confirmed the order of remand passed by the High Court with a direction to the Deputy Assessor and Collector of Municipal Corporation of Delhi to consider the provisions of Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, Delhi Electricity Reforms Act, Transfer Scheme Rules and the Distribution licence issued under Section 20 of the Delhi Electricity Reforms Act for deciding the matter pertaining to the incidence of tax.

Recently Delhi High Court in Government of Delhi vs Union of India has held that Lieutenant Governor is the administrative head of National Capital Territory of Delhi and he is not required to act on the advice of the Delhi Cabinet. The Delhi High Court has also said that the contention of the Government of NCT of Delhi that the Lt. Governor of NCT of Delhi is bound to act only on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers in relation to the matters in respect of which the power to make laws has been conferred on the Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi under clause (3)(a) of Article 239AA of the Constitution is without substance and cannot be accepted. It is further held that it is mandatory under the constitutional scheme to communicate the decision of the Council of Ministers to the Lt. Governor even in relation to the matters in respect of which power to make laws has been conferred on the Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi under clause (3)(a) of Article 239AA of the Constitution and an order thereon can be issued only where the Lt. Governor does not take a different view and no reference to the Central Government is required in terms of the proviso to clause (4) of Article 239AA of the Constitution read with Chapter V of the Transaction of Business of the Government of NCT of Delhi Rules, 1993.

Supreme Court later refused to hear a suit filed by Delhi’s Kejriwal government – under Article 131 of the Constitution – seeking a judicial declaration on the boundaries of the constitutional relationship between the Delhi government and the Centre, in administering the national Capital especially to clearly earmark each of their powers.

A Bench of Justices A K Sikri and N V Ramana said since almost issues have been decided by the Delhi High Court which yesterday ruled that Lt Governor continued to be the administrative head of the national capital and that he was not bound by the aid and advice of the Chief Minister and his council of ministers, the best course would be to wait for the government to file appeal against the order and hear the suit and the SLP together. After Indira Jaising, the lawyer for Delhi government agreed to the proposition, the bench adjourned the matter till August 29.

Read the Judgment here.