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LG enjoys primacy, should not delay files, observes SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that "prima facie," Delhi's Lieutenant Governor has precedence in the national capital under the Constitution. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra is hearing petitions by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's government against last year's High Court verdict that the LG is the administrative head of the national capital.
On Thursday, senior lawyer Gopal Subramaniam, representing the Arvind Kejriwal government, told a five-judge bench of the top court that "an elected government cannot be without any power".
The court indicated that the Lieutenant Governor did appear to have the last word according to the Constitution and the elected government would have to operate within this framework.
"Land, police and public order isn't under you," the bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra remarked. The Arvind Kejriwal government has underlined that the Lieutenant Governor could not veto decisions in other matters.
On the AAP government's contention that the Lieutenant Governor is exceeding his powers, the court asked it to spell out the specifics to enable the court to assess its points.
Subramaniam said the Lieutenant Governor has held back approval on files for as long as a year and convening meetings directly with the officers.
Justice DY Chandrachud said the Lieutenant Governor had to clear files within a reasonable period and if there is a delay, specify the reasons on file.
The AAP government had in February told the Supreme Court that it has exclusive executive powers on matters within the ambit of the Legislative Assembly and "neither the Centre nor the President or the Lieutenant Governor can encroach upon these."
The constitution has given a face and identity to a government in Delhi with Article 239AA and the executive decisions taken and implemented by it cannot be reversed by the Lieutenant Governor, it had said.
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