SC Reserves Order In Power Dispute Case Between Delhi Government VS Centre

Supreme Court

New Delhi: On Thursday, the Supreme Court reserved its orders on the Centre’s petition to refer to a larger Constitution Bench the dispute involving the Delhi Government and the Lieutenant Governor (LG) regarding control over services.

In the petition the Delhi government contended ‘basic structure of the Constitution’ are violated by the amended Act. It further said that the Centre, through the amendments, has given more power to the Lieutenant-Governor than the elected government of Delhi.

“We are reserving our orders on the issue,” said a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana.

Senior advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of Delhi government, averse the plea of the Centre to send the matter to a larger Constitution Bench.

Singhvi emphasised that once the constitution bench has already decided on the matter. He said that there is no point in asking again to refer the matter to a larger Constitution Bench.

The Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, a senior lawyer appearing for the Central government, earlier had told SC that the dispute involving the powers of the Delhi government against the Centre has to be referred to a larger bench.

Mehta speaking at the Court said that it is not the first time that the court is deciding whether a constitution bench matter needs to be referred to another or not.

“This court isn’t here to refer every time slightest thing is pointed out. The Constitution bench has gone into entirety of 237, it may have left certain facets. How many bites of apple will lordships be giving them, is my humble submission. Justice has been done one way or the other by reference. Attempts were made prior, referred, attempt made subsequently was rejected.,” Singhvi argued.

On this the CJI said that they agree with his argument. He said, “Our endeavour is, why repeated exercises, you want urgent disposal of the matter. We agree with your argument that certain arguments might not have been presented before the constitutional bench and the same was not considered.”

“There is no case of constitution that can’t be reformulated for reference to constitution bench, then your lordships would only be sitting in constitution benches. Does your lordship have time to have a constitution bench on issues nuanced by earlier constitution bench. Hearing us and referring it as government is asking for it is no reason to refer,” Singhvi further added.

The bench asked him that what prejudice would be caused to the Delhi Government if the matter is referred to a larger bench.

“It’s not about why not, it’s about why. Law develops by increment, every case will have slightly different nuance,” Singhvi responded.

He also added that the seven bench justice will have to take a call on the mattter.

Mehta said that the Constitution bench judgment was a concurring judgment but the 3 judges didn’t take into consideration the entire aspect of the case.

But the bench cleared that if the constitution bench is constituted, the arguments in the case will have to be completed before May 15. The SC will break its annual Summer Vacation on May 23.

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