The administrative tussle between the Centre and the Delhi administration will finally come up for hearing in the Supreme Court on November 24. This comes after the apex court bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli on Wednesday listed the matter for November 24 in place of November 9.
The Union government and the Delhi administration are at loggerheads over control of administrative services and the transfers and postings of officers in the national capital region. The SC bench meanwhile, changed the date of the hearing at the request of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who mentioned the matter asking to defer the hearing.
Mehta told the bench that he would be travelling outside India from November 7 to 13 for official work as he requested the bench for a change of hearing date. Earlier, a five-judge Constitution bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha asked the parties to complete the compilation of papers in the case meanwhile and it will start day-to-day hearing from November 9.
The apex court bench had said that this will be a complete green bench and there will be no papers in this matter. “Don’t circulate any paper compilations. We want this bench to be a green bench,” Justice Chandrachud had said. The top court had said that to make counsels acquainted with technology in the legal proceedings, training would be conducted over the weekend.
The bench has to decide the legal issue concerning the scope of legislative and executive powers of the Centre and Delhi government over control of services in the national capital. The case was slated to be heard by a Constitution bench after a three-judge bench in May this year had decided to send it to a larger bench on a request by the Central government.
Earlier on February 14, 2019, a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court delivered a split verdict on the question of powers of the GNCTD and Union government over services and referred the matter to a three-judge Bench.
While Justice Ashok Bhushan had ruled the Delhi government has no power at all over administrative services. Justice AK Sikri, however, had said the transfer or posting of officers in top echelons of the bureaucracy (joint director and above) can only be done by the Central government and the view of the lieutenant governor would prevail in case of a difference of opinion for matters relating to other bureaucrats.
The two-judge bench which was hearing pleas on six matters pertaining to a long-running conflict between the Centre and the Delhi government had given a unanimous order on the remaining five issues except for the control over services.
For the past some time governance of the national capital has witnessed a power struggle between the Centre and the Delhi government since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power in 2014.
Prior to February 2019 judgement, a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court had on July 4, 2018, laid down the broad parameters for governance of the national capital. In the landmark verdict, it had unanimously held that Delhi cannot be accorded the status of a state but clipped the powers of the LG saying he has no “independent decision-making power” and has to act on the aid and advice of the elected government.