September 2018
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Real power, accountability vests with elected representatives, not LG: SC
New Delhi, Jul 4 (PTI) The real power and "substantive" accountability in democratic system of governance vests with the elected representatives and not the Lieutenant Governor, Justice D Y Chandrachud said today.

"The LG must bear in mind that it is not he, but the council of ministers which takes substantive decisions and even when he invokes the proviso, the LG has to abide by the decision of the President," Justice Chandrachud said in a separate but concurring verdict on the power tussle between the LG and the Delhi government.

The Supreme Court judge, who wrote a 175-page order, said the Lieutenant Governor shall act on the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister.

The five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra laid down broad parameters for governance of the national capital, which has witnessed a bitter power tussle between the Centre and Delhi government since the Aam Aadmi Party came to power in 2014.

Justice Chandrachud said that under the Transaction of Business of the Government of NCT of Delhi Rules, 1993, the LG must be kept duly apprised on all matters pertaining to the administration of affairs of the NCT and the Rules indicate the duty of the Council of Ministers to inform the Lieutenant Governor right from the stage of a proposal before it.

He held that the provisions of Article 239 AA(4) must be operated and applied in a manner which facilitates and does not "obstruct" the governance in Delhi.

"While the provisions contained in the Transaction of Business Rules require a scrupulous observance of the duty imposed on the Council of Ministers to inform the Lieutenant Governor on all matters relating to the administration of the NCT, neither the provisions of Article 239AA, nor the provisions of the Act and Rules require the concurrence of the Lieutenant Governor to a decision which has been taken by the Council of Ministers," he said.

Justice Chandrachud said that the proviso to Article 239AA(4) must be operated and applied in a manner which facilitates and does not obstruct the governance of the National Capital Territory.

"If the expression 'any matter' were to be construed as 'every matter' or every trifling matter that would result in bringing to a standstill the administration of the affairs of the NCT. Every conceivable difference would be referred to the President. The elected representatives would be reduced to a cipher. The union government would govern the day- to-day affairs," he said.

The judge said that in discharging his constitutional role, the LG has to be conscious of the fact that the Council of Ministers which tenders aid and advice is elected to serve the people and represents both the aspirations and responsibilities of democracy.

Justice Chandrachud also clarified that in case of difference of opinion between the Lieutenant Governor and the council of ministers, "the Lieutenant Governor must, by a process of dialogue and discussion, seek to resolve any difference of opinion with a Minister and if it is not possible to have it so resolved to attempt it through the Council of Ministers.

"A reference to the President is contemplated by the Rules only when the above modalities fail to yield a solution, when the matter may be escalated to the President."

Justice Chandrachud also referred to the findings of the S Balakrishnan Committee founded in 1989 for making recommendations on the reorganization of structure for the governance of Delhi. Balakrishnan was an advisor in Ministry of Home Affairs.

The judge noted that the committee had opined that "the national capital belongs to the nation as a whole" and hence a demand for full statehood could not be entertained.

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