The Supreme Court will outline the relationship between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and LG Anil Baijal
New Delhi: Is Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's government a toothless body with all the powers to veto its decisions with the Lieutenant Governor? Mr Kejriwal will know the answer this morning when five Supreme Court judges decide on the Delhi government's challenge to a court ruling that the Lieutenant Governor is the administrative boss of Delhi. In the middle of a full-blown power tussle with Lt Governor Anil Baijal, Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party or AAP has already launched a signature campaign for full statehood, which would give the state government greater control over the capital.
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The Supreme Court is reading out its verdict on whether Delhi has the powers of a full state. The constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra began hearing the case 10.30 am this morning. The other judges are Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
In its verbal observations during the hearings, the court had indicated that Delhi's Lieutenant Governor or LG appeared to have primacy under the Constitution but had to operate within some red lines.
Under the Constitution and the law, the city government does not have any control in matters of land, bureaucracy and the police.
For everything else, the constitution says the Lt Governor has to be guided by the aid and advice of the elected government - as is the case in all states.
For Delhi, there is a fine print. Unlike in other states, the LG has the power to disagree with the state cabinet and can overrule the state government. In such cases, the LG has to ask the centre to take the call.
It is this power that the LG has abused to eat into the elected government's authority and block decisions taken by the Delhi government, the Supreme Court was told by the AAP government during hearings.
The centre argues that the Delhi government cannot have absolute powers in the national capital.
As one of the lawyers representing AAP, P Chidambaram countered that the LG isn't the "Viceroy of the British Crown" but only the President's representative, with a much narrower mandate.
Within months of the AAP taking power in Delhi in 2015, the BJP-led central government took the anti-corruption unit away from the state government. The centre also withdrew a 1998 concession granted by BJP patriarch LK Advani, which required the LG to consult the elected government on every decision relating to police, public order and bureaucratic appointments.
These decisions were the starting point of the tussle for power. Mr Kejriwal and AAP The Chief Minister accuses the Lieutenant Governor of acting as a stooge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and blocking all important decisions taken by his government for political reasons.