New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said the Lt Governor (LG) cannot have administrative supervision over all issues relating to the Union Territory of Delhi and the term "administration" cannot be understood as the entire administration of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD), otherwise, the purpose of giving powers to a constitutionally recognised, democratically elected government would be diluted.
A five-judge constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, said: "There does not exist a homogeneous class of Union Territories with similar governance structures; NCTD is not similar to other Union Territories. By virtue of Article 239AA, NCTD is accorded a 'sui generis' status, setting it apart from other Union Territories".
The bench - also comprising Justices M.R. Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli, and P.S. Narasimha - said the executive power of NCTD is co-extensive with its legislative power, that is, it shall extend to all matters with respect to which it has the power to legislate.
The bench said: "NCTD has legislative and executive power over 'Services', that is, Entry 41 of List II of the Seventh Schedule because: (I) The definition of State under Section 3(58) of the General Clauses Act 1897 applies to the term 'State' in Part XIV of the Constitution.
Thus, Part XIV is applicable to Union territories; and (II) The exercise of rule-making power under the proviso to Article 309 does not oust the legislative power of the appropriate authority to make laws over Entry 41 of the State List."
It noted that the executive administration by the LG, in his discretion, can only extend to matters which fall outside the purview of the powers conferred on the Assembly but it extends to powers or functions entrusted or delegated to him by the President" or "in which he is required by or under any law to act in his discretion or to exercise any judicial or quasi-judicial functions".
The Chief Justice, who authored the unanimous judgment on behalf of the bench, said: "The term 'administration' cannot be understood as the entire administration of GNCTD. Otherwise, the purpose of giving powers to a constitutionally recognised and democratically elected government would be diluted."
The bench made it clear that the legislative and executive power of the NCTD over Entry 41 shall not extend over to services related to "public order", "police", and "land".
It said that the NCTD, similar to other states, also represents the representative form of government and the involvement of the Union of India in the administration of NCTD is limited by constitutional provisions, and any further expansion would be contrary to the constitutional scheme of governance.
The bench said: "We reiterate that in light of Article 239AA and the 2018 Constitution Bench judgment, the Lt Governor is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers of NCTD in relation to matters within the legislative scope of NCTD. As we have held that NCTD has legislative power over 'services' (excluding 'public order', 'police', and 'land') under Entry 41 in List II, the Lieutenant Governor shall be bound by the decisions of GNCTD on services... To clarify, any reference to 'Lieutenant Governor' over services (excluding services related to 'public order', 'police', and 'land') in relevant Rules shall mean Lieutenant Governor acting on behalf of GNCTD".