New Delhi: The Centre has told the Supreme Court that no Union Territory (UT) has its own services under the Constitution and the present status of Delhi is in existence since 1993, while disputing Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s claims about non-cooperation by Central government officials.
It added that Sisodia’s claims regarding non-cooperation by officials are, by and large, vague.
Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, said in a written response that it is respectfully submitted that Delhi is the capital of the country and keeping the said special and peculiar position of Delhi in mind, a constitutional amendment is made by inserting Article 239AA.
“As held by the nine judges’ bench in the case of NDMC, Delhi is undisputably an Union Territory and no Union Territory under the Constitution has its own services which are not controlled by the Central government. That is the constitutional scheme and every Union Territory is functioning effectively and efficiently despite there being no difference in administrative infrastructure of Delhi and other Union Territories,” the reply said.
The Centre claimed that Sisodia is attempting “to create an unwarranted prejudice” to ensure that the AAP government’s interpretation of Article 239AA is accepted by the apex court.
Article 239AA of the Constitution grants special status to Delhi among the Union Territories through the 69th constitutional amendment.
Bhalla said: “I have verified from all senior-level officials of GNCTD about non-receipt of telecalls etc., and I have found that no such incident has ever happened. It is submitted that all officials attend all meetings except on some occasions. On inquiry, I have learnt that the dates on which some officials could not attend the meeting were the dates on which they were officially assigned some other duties by the Delhi government itself.”
The MHA’s response said that Sisodia’s claims regarding non-cooperation of officials are, by and large, vague and incapable of any precise examination by the Central government, more particularly when “no contemporaneous intimation of alleged failure is communicated to the Central government”.
The response said, “I state and submit that the administration or any unit of the administration, be it Central government, state government or Union Territory, requires a very skillful coordination between the political executives and persons working in connection with the affairs of the respective unit.”
It said, “Such coordination takes place by effective administrative skills and not with the threat of control over the officers or employees,” adding that the present status of Delhi has been in existence since 1993.
“Till date, no elected government in GNCTD has ever alleged any such difficulties even during the period for which there were different parties ruling the Central government and GNCTD,” it added.
The Centre and the Delhi government are locked in a legal battle over control of services.
The Centre also told the Supreme Court that it has filed a fresh plea seeking reference to a larger bench of nine or more judges in a matter, which involves constitutional issues connected with the control of services in the national capital.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Delhi government before a bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, opposed the Centre’s plea, saying, “This will only create delay and such tactics cannot be allowed.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said he has filed an interim application stating that the ‘Delhi vs. Centre’ case may have to be referred to a larger bench.
The bench said the decision on IA can be taken when the constitution bench assembles to hear it, adding that one of the judges of the five-judge constitution bench, Justice Krishna Murari, is unwell, indicating that the scheduled hearing on December 6 may get rescheduled.
The Centre’s application said it is seeking reference of appeal to a larger bench for a “holistic interpretation” of Article 239AA of the Constitution, which is central to the determination of issues involved in the matter.