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AAP govt, Centre at loggerheads over family court appointments

New Delhi: The AAP government and the Centre were at loggerheads in the Supreme Court on Thursday over the requirement for LG's concurrence in issuing notification for appointing presiding officers at family courts here.

File photo

The top court said that it will lay down the procedure on the issue of sending the file to LG, in its verdict on the ongoing Delhi-Centre row over the administration of the national capital.


A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan was told by advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for Delhi government, that there were vacancies for presiding officers at family courts, but when the government sent the names for notifying them, an official said that the file needs the approval of the Lieutenant Governor (LG).
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"Minister is the head of the department but when he sent the names of presiding officers of family court for notifying, the principal secretary (Law) tells him that the file first needs to be sent to the LG for approval," Mehra said.

He said that the five-judge constitution bench had recently held that LG only needs to be intimated.

The bench then observed that before the issuance of notification on the matter, the draft should be sent to the LG.

Senior advocate CA Sundaram, appearing for the Centre, said that the AAP government has issued a circular to its officials that except for the matters relating to land, police and public order, no file should be sent to the LG for concurrence.
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"How can it be. After the notification on a matter is issued, what will the LG do. They say everything has to be stopped. LG has powers delegated to him from the President and he has the discretionary powers. He has to see the file before the notification is issued," he said.

The bench said that to resolve the ambiguity, if any it will lay down the procedure on the issue of sending the file to LG, in its verdict.

Mehra said that after the constitution bench verdict, the LG needs to be only intimated and if there is any kind of dispute, the issue needs to be sent to the President.

Sundaram ensued his arguments and said that LG has powers entrusted upon him by the president to regulate services in Delhi.

He said that if Parliament has legislated on an issue, then the executive powers rest with the Union of India and in this case the power of governor is very clear under the GNCTD, Act.
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The hearing remained inconclusive and would continue on October 23.

The Centre had told the apex court yesterday that the LG has the power to regulate services in Delhi.

The powers are delegated to the administrator of Delhi and the services can be administered through him, it said.

The Centre also said that unless the President of India expressly directs, the LG, who is the administrator of Delhi, cannot consult the Chief Minister or the council of ministers.

On October 4, the Delhi government had told the apex court that it wanted its petitions relating to governance of the national capital be heard soon as it did not want "stalemate to continue in administration".

The Delhi government had told the top court that it wanted to know where it stands with regard to the administration in view of the Constitution bench verdict of apex court on July 4.

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The five-judge bench had on July 4 laid down broad parameters for governance of the national capital, which has witnessed a power struggle between the Centre and the Delhi government since the Aam Aadmi Party came to power in 2014.

In the landmark verdict, it had unanimously held that Delhi cannot be accorded the status of a state but clipped the powers of the Lieutenant Governor (LG), saying he has no "independent decision making power" and has to act on the aid and advice of the elected government.

On September 19, the Centre had told the apex court that administration of Delhi cannot be left to the Delhi government alone and emphasised that it has an "extraordinary" position by virtue of being the country's capital.


The Centre had told court that a five-judge constitution bench of the apex court had categorically held that Delhi cannot be accorded the status of a state.

The Centre had said one of the basic issues was that whether the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) has the legislative and executive powers so far as 'services' were concerned.
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"Delhi has an extraordinary position as it is the capital of the country," it had said.

It said that the national capital houses several institutions of vital importance like Parliament, the Supreme Court and foreign diplomats also resides here.

On July 18, the AAP government had told the apex court that its functioning was "completely paralysed" and it cannot order transfer or posting of officers despite the constitution bench verdict on the national capital's administration.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had been at loggerheads with incumbent LG Anil Baijal and his predecessor Najeeb Jung.

Kejriwal had accused both of them of preventing the functioning of his government at the behest of the Centre.

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