The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on Monday the plea of AAP government in Delhi seeking a direction that the high court be restrained from delivering its judgement on issues including the scope of powers of the city government to exercise its authority in performing public functions.
A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur will hear the appeal of Delhi government in which it has been claimed that only the apex court has jurisdiction under the Constitution to deal with issues relating to the powers of States and Centre.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the Arvind Kejriwal-led government, mentioned the matter for urgent hearing before the bench that also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.
“No judgement be allowed to be delivered without decision on the jurisdiction of the Delhi high court with regard to the dispute in question,” the senior lawyer said.
She further said that the dispute is centered around the powers of government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) under Article 239A of the Constitution.
It has been alleged by the AAP government that it is unable to function as most of its decisions are either annulled or changed by Centre at the behest of lieutenant governor (LG) Najeeb Jung on the ground that Delhi is not a complete state.
At the outset, the bench was not inclined to accord an urgent hearing saying, “let the Delhi HC come out with its judgement and you (Delhi govt) are free to raise all the issues before this court.”
“The pendency of this SLP will not come in the way of the Delhi high court in delivering the judgement. We will examine the issue as and when it comes before us,” the bench observed.
However, the apex court later agreed to hear the plea of Delhi government on Monday.
The Delhi government, in its appeal, has alleged that its power to do public services in the state has been adversely affected. It also raised a question as to whether the Union of India can take over all powers of the state government.
There is an ongoing power tussle between Delhi government and the LG on various issues including the control over the Anti-Corruption Branch and power to transfer or retain bureaucrats.
The HC had on May 24 reserved its verdict on the plea of the AAP government seeking a stay on the proceedings on the petitions arising out of its standoff with the LG over powers to appoint bureaucrats in the national capital and other issues.
The AAP government had sought a stay on proceedings on the ground that the issues involve a dispute of “federal nature” between the Centre and Delhi government and the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction to deal with the matter.
“If framers of the Constitution had wanted that disputes of federal nature to be dealt with by the various high courts, then there would have been no exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 131 in such issues,” it had argued in the high court.
During earlier arguments on the application, additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain had told the bench that Article 131 does not come in the way of jurisdiction of high courts under Article 226 of the Constitution.
He had said that power of high courts cannot be ousted as Article 226 is a part of the doctrine of basic structure of the Constitution.
A total of 11 cases arising out of the confrontation between the LG and Delhi government are being heard together by the high court.Delhi government had on May 28 last year approached the high court challenging the Centre’s notification of May 21 giving the LG absolute powers to appoint bureaucrats in the city.
It had also challenged the July 23, 2014 notification limiting the jurisdiction of the Anti-Corruption Branch to Delhi government officials only.
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