The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government will move the Supreme Court in a week's time to challenge the Delhi High Court verdict holding that Delhi was a Union Territory and the Lt Governor had the last word in its administration.
As senior counsel Indira Jaising raised the issue in the apex court, a bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice N.V. Ramana said it will hear Delhi government's suit contending that Delhi was a state and the advice of the council of ministers was binding on the Lt. Governor, along with its petition challenging the Delhi High Court verdict.
At the outset of the hearing of the suit, the bench told Jaising that the better course would be to challenge the Delhi High Court judgment and asked how many of the issues raised in the suit are covered by its judgment.
As Jaising told the court that Delhi government would file the petition in a week's time, the bench adjourned the hearing till August 29.
As she insisted that the contention raised in the suit should be heard, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench that it was not maintainable, as the Delhi government having chosen one constitutional remedy, could not take recourse to another. They can't have parallel proceedings, he maintained.
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the bench that Delhi government seeking a declaration from the court that it is a state is an admission that it is not a state.
As Jaising insisted that the suit should be heard, Justice Sikri told her: "What is the use of duplicating the issues. Therefore, you have to challenge the High Court order and this court has to consider whether High Court is right or wrong. What is the use of duplicating the hearing on issues?"
Telling the court that petition challenging the Delhi High Court order will be filed, Jaising said that suit raises the issues involving the interpretation of the constitution and primary question is whether Article 131 is attracted or not.
Under Article 131, in the event of dispute between a state and the central government, either of the aggrieved party could approach the top court, which has original jurisdiction in this particular issue, for its redressal by filling an original suit.
The Kejriwal's government has moved the apex court seeking interpretation of the Constitution's Article 239AA - a special provision with respect to Delhi - which says "the Union territory of Delhi shall be called the National Capital Territory of Delhi (hereafter in this Part referred to as the National Capital Territory) and the administrator thereof appointed under article 239 shall be designated as the Lieutenant Governor."
The Delhi High Court had on Thursday ruled that Lt. Governor was not bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers. Recognising the primacy of Lt. Governor in Delhi's administration, it had said: "Policy direction can't be issued without communicating to Lt. Governor."
Brushing aside the stand of Delhi government, it had said: "The contention of the government of NCT of Delhi that the Lt. Governor of NCT of Delhi is bound to act only on the aid and advice of the council of ministers in relation to the matters in respect of which the power to make laws has been conferred on the Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi under clause (3)(a) of Article 239AA of the Constitution is without substance and cannot be accepted."