On Wednesday, a Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra pronounced the judgement in the contentious case of Delhi government and Delhi’s LG. In the judgment, the SC asked the Delhi LG to work in tandem with the council of ministers of the ruling party in Delhi. It said, “Delhi LG must work harmoniously with council of ministers and attempt should be made to settle difference of opinion with discussions.” This, in anyway, does not mean that the powers of the Delhi LG have been ceased or curtailed, and contrary to popular opinion, it means that the Delhi LG still has the authority to question and challenge the passage of important topics related to governance. The SC bench went on to add that issues where there is a difference of opinion between the Delhi LG and Council of Ministers could still be referred to the President.
The Supreme Court simply reiterated the constitution but the SC judgment has been projected as if it was in favour of the Aam Aadmi Party by the mainstream media, the army of AAP social media users and cheerleaders of AAP. One such cheerleader is Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy who hailed the Supreme Court judgment by saying that it is “totally applicable” to Puducherry as well and also threatened to file a contempt petition if it was not followed in the Puducherry. Similar to Delhi, a constant power tussle is going on between CM Narayanasamy and Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi in Puducherry, which is the only other union territory after Delhi to have its own elected government.
CM Narayanasamy accused Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi of “overreach and interference” in the running of day-to-day administration. However, CM Naryanasamy stated this without even reading the complete judgment, it seems. The judgment made a clear cut distinction between Delhi and Puducherry, and explicitly said that Puducherry cannot be compared with case of Delhi.
— Lt. Gov. Puducherry (@LGov_Puducherry) July 5, 2018
Puducherry is covered under Article 239A of the constitution whereas NCT of Delhi is covered under Article 239AA. Delhi has been given special status by the virtue of being the National capital and its status is very different from that of Puducherry. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, accentuating the difference between Delhi and Puducherry, observed, “At the outset, we must declare that the insertion of Articles 239AA and 239AB which specifically pertain to NCT of Delhi is reflective of the intention of the Parliament to accord Delhi a sui generis status from the other Union Territories as well as from the Union Territory of Puducherry to which Article 239A is singularly applicable as on date.”
With respect to Puducherry, the bench observed that Article 239A gives Parliament power to constitute local Legislatures or Council of Ministers or both whether elected or partly nominated and partly elected, to function as Legislature.
The bench also said, the Article came into force by the Constitution (14th Amendment) Act, 1962. Before 1971, under Article 239A, Parliament had the power to create legislatures or Council of Ministers for the then Union territories of Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Manipur, Goa and Daman and Diu. The bench further observed, “On January 25, 1971, Himachal Pradesh acquired statehood and consequently, was omitted from Article 239A. Subsequently, on January 21, 1972, Tripura and Manipur were granted statehood as a consequence of which both Manipur and Tripura were omitted from Article 239A.” Later on, Goa and Daman & Diu were also omitted from the Article 239A. The bench further added, “Parliament, under the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963, created legislatures for the then Union Territories and accordingly, even after May 30, 1987, the applicability of Article 239A stands limited to UT of Puducherry.” So, that’s why as a natural corollary, the Union Territory of Puducherry stands on a different footing from other UTs.
— Anusha Soni (@AnushaSoni23) July 4, 2018
This is likely to come as a huge blow to the CM of Puducherry since the judgment further substantiates LG Kiran Bedi’s stand.