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SC rules LG doesn't have independent decision making powers and is bound to act on the aid and advice of Delhi Govt
Delhi has no Governor but a Lieutenant Governor who is the constitutional head of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The post was first established in September 1966, when the Delhi Administration Act, 1966 came into effect. Thus the former 'Delhi Legislative Assembly' was replaced by the 'Delhi Metropolitan Council' with 56 elected and 5 nominated members with the Lt Governor of Delhi as its head.

The Chief Minister of Delhi is the chief executive of the Territory. According to the Constitution of India, the LG is Delhi's de facto head, but de jure executive authority rests with the CM. Following elections to the Legislative Assembly, the lieutenant governor usually invites the party with a majority of seats to form the government. The President of India, on the advice of the lieutenant governor, appoints the chief minister, whose council of ministers are collectively responsible to the assembly. Given that he has the confidence of the assembly, the chief minister's term is for five years and is subject to no term limit.

The relationship between the LGs and Chief Ministers had been almost smooth with little palpable differences till the 20th LG Najeeb Jung took the reins of power.

Let me begin with LG Tejinder Khanna (IAS) from 2007 – 2013. Before becoming the LG of Delhi, he had also held important positions in the Government of India. He served as Commercial Counsellor, Indian High Commission, UK (1975–77), Chief Controller, Imports and Exports (1989–91), Secretary to Government of India, Ministry of Food (1992–93) and Commerce Secretary to Government of India (1993–96). Immediately on his retirement on 31.12.1996, he was appointed 16th Lt Governor and Administrator of the National Capital and served in this capacity up to April 1998. He again served as Delhi's 19th Lt Governor from 9 April 2007 to 8 July 2013. He had a good rapport with CM Sheila Dikshit and Delhi witnessed tremendous development in the infrastructure and progress in the national capital. I don't recall any major contention between the LG and the CM.

The formidable problems between the LG and the CM of Delhi started with LG Najeeb Jung (2013 – 2016). He is a retired IAS officer who had served as the 20th LG from July 2013 to December 2016. He had previously served as the Vice-Chancellor of the Jamia Millia Islamia from 2009 to 2013. In July 2013, he became the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, replacing another former LG Tejendra Khanna. Since taking office, Nejeeb Jung had been involved in an ongoing jurisdictional dispute with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the head of the DLA.. Although Delhi is a union territory it has its own organic act, National Capital Territory of Delhi Act (1992), and its own legislature, The Chief Minister and the Lt. Governor have not been able to interpret the operating rules in the same way. In a surprise move, he submitted his resignation from the post on 22 December 2016.

He was replace by Shri Anil Baija who had. He had served on the executive council of the VIF (Vivekananda International Foundation) think-thank and multiple corporate boards including IDFC bank. He has also served, as an advisor, on National e-Governance Advisory Group (NAG); Advisory Group for Integrated Development of Power, Coal, and Renewable Energy; Committee on implementation of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) in the current NDA government.

As expected, the friction that generated during the period of Najeeb Jung snowballed in the tenure of LG Baijal. The CM and LG were are the loggerheads on most of the management issues with popping-up challenges against one-another's authority.

However, in a landmark judgment on the power tussle between the Delhi government and the Centre, the Supreme Court held today that Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal does not have independent decision making powers, and is bound to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. The judgment was pronounced in the court by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who was heading a five judge Constitution bench, also held that the LG cannot act as an "obstructionist".Two other judges, Justices A K Sikri and A M Khanwilkar, concurred with the verdict.

The SC said: "All decisions of council of ministers must be communicated to the L-G, but that doesn't mean concurrence of the L-G is required."

The SC said the L-G can refer issues on difference of opinion to President only in exceptional matters and not as general rule.

"The L-G must work harmoniously with the council of ministers and attempt should be made to settle difference of opinion with discussions," said the SC.

Justice DY Chandrachud, in his separate but concurrent verdict, said that the L-G must realise that council of ministers were answerable to people.

The SC said except for three issues, including law and order, the Delhi government has the power to legislate and govern on other subjects. It said all decisions of the Council of Ministers, who are elected representatives of the people of Delhi, must be communicated to the LG but that does not mean his concurrence is required.

"There is no room for absolutism and there is no room for anarchism also," the court ruled. The decision is a major victory for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's AAP government, which has been in a constant tug of war with the LG over the power wielded by the two branches of the executive.

Virtually disagreeing with the earlier High Court order, the Supreme Court said the LG should not act in a mechanical manner and stall the decisions of the Council of Ministers.

The citizens of Delhi may now take a sigh of relief as the old-drama is about to get ring down its curtain.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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