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Pleas on Delhi-Centre power dispute: SC reserves order

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on a clutch of pleas on the issue whether the Lieutenant Governor or the Delhi government enjoyed supremacy in administration, after the AAP dispensation concluded its arguments asserting that it possessed both legislative and executive powers.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, which had commenced hearing on November 2, reserved the judgement after hearing a galaxy of senior lawyers for 15 days in over four weeks.
While the battery of senior lawyers P Chidambaram, Gopal Subramanium, Rajeev Dhavan, Indira Jaising argued for the AAP government, the NDA government at the Centre was represented by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh in the marathon proceedings.
Wrapping up the rejoinder submissions, Subramanium told the bench, which also comprised Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, that the chief minister and the council of ministers had the legislative power to make laws as well as the executive authority to enforce the enacted statutes.
"The Chief Minister heads the council of ministers to aid and advice the Lieutenant Governor," he said, adding that Parliament wanted to accord special status to Delhi under the Constitution and, hence, Article 239AA came into being. Had that not been the intention, there was no need to frame Article 239AA (which deals with power and status of Delhi under the Constitution),
"The executive authority lies with the Government of Delhi when one says that the Chief Minister and the council of ministers shall be responsible to the Delhi assembly," the senior advocate said.
Subramanium, however, said that certain powers are "co- extensive" and the rule of Delhi has to be conducted in the name of the President through the elected government.
He said the Lieutenant Governor has been taking many executive decisions and a "harmonious interpretation" of Article 239AA was needed to fulfil the constitutional mandate for a democratically- elected Delhi government.

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