NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court set a clear message on Wednesday in the power struggle between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Centre over control of the Delhi government. While acknowledging that the Lieutenant Governor was the top executive in Delhi, it said the LG is bound by the advice of the elected government, and must be aligned with the cabinet at all times.
The Supreme Court categorically said the Constitution must be followed at all costs, and that it left no space for anarchy. It also underlined that Delhi does not have full statehood while stating that it does enjoy special status.
The top court said the LG must work harmoniously with the elected government and on the aid and advice of the cabinet. However, it also asked the elected government to ensure that its decisions have the prior approval of the LG.
Soon after the judgement, AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made it clear that he was please with the result. "A big victory for the people of Delhi...a big victory for democracy," he tweeted.
A big victory for the people of Delhi...a big victory for democracy...
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) July 4, 2018
The top court noted that the Constitutional system envisions the LG and the Delhi government working together, and that it did not set aside any independent authority in the office of the LG. It also clarified that the LG did have the authority to refer certain decisions to the President, where a Constitutional question may be stake.
The Supreme Court judgement is a double-edged sword for the Aam Aadmi Party. While it now has legal sanction for its stand that the LG does not have authority to block the decisions of the elected government, the judgement could be a dampener for its campaign for full statehood to be given to Delhi.
This has been a demand of the AAP in both the 2014 and 2015 elections to the Delhi Assembly. Full statehood has been seen by the AAP as a way to take control over Delhi's police and land powers. Both these are presently vested in the Ministry of Home Affairs considering Delhi surrounds the national capital.