The plea said that the changes diminish the constitutionally guaranteed powers and functions of the elected legislative assembly and council of ministers of the NCT of Delhi.
The Delhi Government has moved the Supreme Court challenging the amendments made to the ‘Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Act’ giving greater powers to the Lieutenant Governor contending that it violates the “basic structure” of the Constitution.
The plea said that the changes “diminish the constitutionally guaranteed powers and functions of the elected legislative assembly and council of ministers of the NCT of Delhi, overturn the constitutionally stipulated balance between the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Government, and impermissibly overrule the” 2018 “judgment of the” court in “Government of NCT of Delhi v Union of India”.
It pointed out that the Constitution Bench had in the 2018 judgment “clarified that the provisions of Article 239AA – including those concerning the powers and functions of the LG – must be interpreted in light of the constitutional commitment to federalism, and to representative democracy” and that the court “interpreted Article 239AA to place limitations upon the power of the LG, to ensure that the default situation would remain that of a parliamentary democracy with an elected legislature and a responsible executive, while a certain space was retained for exceptional circumstances, where the LG would be required to play a limited role”.
The Delhi government said that the amendments “impermissibly reverse this delicate constitutional balance, as set out and interpreted by” the court.
“The impugned provisions are an attempt to treat the LG as the default administering authority over the NCT of Delhi, by equating the position of the LG with that of the “government”, by authorising the LG to withhold consent from bills that, in his judgment, may be “incidentally” outside the scope of legislative assembly’s legislative powers (even though such a bill, if passed into law, would be constitutionally valid under the doctrine of pith and substance), and by empowering the LG to interfere in the day-to-day administration of the NCT by introducing the requirement of obtaining the LGs views before executing a decision of the Council of Ministers under any bunch of laws that are to be specified by LG, through general orders”, it said.
The plea added the provisions “impermissibly encroach on the scope of the Delhi Legislative Assembly’s core legislative functions by interfering with the power of the Assembly to frame its own rules of business or to hold the executive to account, a core function of any legislature”.
They “violate the principles of federalism, separation of powers, representative democracy, and the rule of law, which are essential features of the Constitution” and “therefore…violates the “Basic Structure” of the Constitution”, the government sought to argue.
The Centre, it said, has through its amendments, given more power to the Lieutenant Governor than the elected government of the people of Delhi.
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