On Friday, the Supreme Court bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan was split on the issue of who has powers to appoint and transfer officers of State Public Services under Entry 41, List II of the Constitution of India.
Justice Sikri held that transfers and posting of officers of and above the rank of Joint Secretary are under the powers of Lieutenant General of Delhi; other officers are under the control of Delhi Government. On this aspect, Justice Bhushan dissented to hold that "services" were totally outside the purview of Delhi Government.
On other issues, the bench was unanimous. The SC declared the competent authority in respect of the contentious issues as follows:
- Anti-Corruption Bureau under Centre; Delhi Government has no police powers.
- Competent authority under the Commission of Inquiry Act is the Centre.
- Delhi Govt has no power to appoint Commission of Inquiry
- Electricity Board under the Delhi Government, which is the appropriate government under the Electricity Act Power to appoint.
- Public Prosecutor with the Delhi Government.
The issue of "service" has been referred to a larger bench. (story to be updated based on judgment)
It was on November 1 last year that the bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan had reserved verdict on petitions challenging various notifications, including on control of services and power of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in the ongoing tussle between the Delhi government and the Centre.
During the hearings, the Centre had told the apex court that the Lieutenant Governor (LG) has the power to regulate services in Delhi. The powers are delegated to the administrator of Delhi and the services can be administered through him, it had said.
The Centre also said that unless the President of India expressly directs, the LG, who is the administrator of Delhi, cannot consult the Chief Minister or the Council of Ministers.
On October 4, last year, the Delhi government had told the apex court that it wanted its petitions relating to governance of the national capital be heard soon as it did not want "stalemate to continue in administration".
The Delhi government had told the top court that it wanted to know where it stands with regard to the administration in view of the Constitution bench verdict of apex court on July 4.
The five-judge bench had on July 4, last year laid down broad parameters for governance of the national capital, which has witnessed a power struggle between the Centre and the Delhi government since the Aam Aadmi Party came to power in 2014.
In the landmark verdict, it had unanimously held that Delhi cannot be accorded the status of a state but clipped the powers of the Lieutenant Governor (LG), saying he has no "independent decision making power" and has to act on the aid and advice of the elected government.
On September 19, last year, the Centre had told the apex court that administration of Delhi cannot be left to the Delhi government alone and emphasised that it has an "extraordinary" position by virtue of being the country's capital. The Centre had told court that a five-judge constitution bench of the apex court had categorically held that Delhi cannot be accorded the status of a state.
The Centre had contended that one of the basic issues was that whether the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) has the legislative and executive powers so far as 'services' were concerned. "Delhi has an extraordinary position as it is the capital of the country," it had said. It said that the national capital houses several institutions of vital importance like Parliament and the Supreme Court and foreign diplomats also resides here.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had been at loggerheads with incumbent LG Anil Baijal and his predecessor Najeeb Jung. Kejriwal had accused both of them of preventing the functioning of his government at the behest of the BJP-led central government.