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Delhi HC holds Lt. Governor as administrative head, AAP govt to move SC

The Delhi High Court today delivered a big blow to the Aam Aadmi Party government's fight for Statehood for Delhi and control of power with the Union government, as it held that National Capital Territory continues to be a Union Territory and the Lieutenant Governor is its administrative head.

The court's decision has rendered a series of moves made by the Delhi government illegal such as commissions of inquiry into the CNG fitness scam, Delhi and District Cricket Association illegalities, policy directions to electricity regulatory commission for compensation to people for disruption in power supply, as these were made without the approval or views of the Lieutenant Governor.

Ending the ongoing tussle between the cabinet form of governance in Delhi and the Lieutenant Governor, a Bench headed by Chief Justice G. Rohini held that "The matters connected with 'Services' fall outside the purview of the Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi... Therefore, the direction in the impugned Notification (of the Centre) of February, 2015 that the Lt. Governor of the NCT of Delhi shall in respect of matters connected with 'Services' exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the Central Government to the extent delegated to him from time to time by the President is neither illegal nor unconstitutional."

In response to the High Court order in favour of Lieutenant Governor, Delhi's Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that the Aam Aadmi Party government will move the Supreme Court. "Only SC can articulate the Constitution the right way," said Jain.

Following its decision, the court declared as illegal all Commissions of Inquiry appointed by the Delhi government without the approval of the LG such as the Commission of Inquiry for inquiring into all aspects of the award of work related to grant of CNG Fitness Certificates, the Commission of Inquiry to inquire into the allegations regarding irregularities in the functioning of Delhi and District Cricket Association.

In its 194-page judgement, the court noted that "On a reading of Article 239 and Article 239AA of the Constitution together with the provisions of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 and the Transaction of Business of the Government of NCT of Delhi Rules, 1993, it becomes manifest that Delhi continues to be a Union Territory even after the Constitution (69th Amendment) Act, 1991 inserting Article 239AA making special provisions with respect to Delhi."

The Bench ruled that Article 239 of the Constitution "continues to be applicable to NCT of Delhi and insertion of Article 239AA has not diluted the application of Article 239 in any manner."