‘Court ruling on Delhi powers could trigger statehood process’

New Delhi, Aug 4 (IANS) The Delhi High Court order giving primacy to the Lt Governor over the city’s administration is constitutionally valid but could trigger the push for a new political process for full statehood for Delhi, experts believe.

Most experts IANS spoke with said the court has taken a “correct constitutional position” and the Delhi government’s appeal against it is likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Ashwani Kumar, former head and dean, Faculty of Law, Delhi University said the High Court ruling might set in motion a political process for full statehood to Delhi.

“As far as the ruling is concerned, this is the preponderant view of the legal people and this would be held valid even in future. Even Supreme Court would be on this side,” Ashwani Kumar told IANS.

But, he said, the court ruling may trigger “a political process” now.

“Whatever the AAP government is doing is actually to bring an impact that Delhi has to be given full statehood. This tussle is a part of that process.”

He said the Directive Principles of State Policy were not binding on courts, but the Supreme Court has slowly started giving weightage to that also.

“This is a politico-legal process. People went to the Supreme Court number of times. It gave weightage to Directive Principles of State Policy. So, it can happen here also.

Someday, there will be pressure generated by the voters that full statehood is given to Delhi,” he said.

Subhash C. Kashyap, a constitutional expert and former Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha, said the city government must accept that “Delhi is not a state and the powers of the Lieutenant Governor (LG) are different from the position of Governors in other states”.

“Delhi is a union territory and by its definition it is centrally administered,” he said.

Kashyap said the city is administered by the President of India through the LG appointed by the President on the advice of the central government.

“The LG is the administrator and the Delhi government and (its) legislature have very limited powers. The overriding powers are with the union government and it is represented by the LG.”

Kashyap explained that the Constitution of India itself is very clear that the LG “is not bound by the aid and advice” of the Delhi government.

“The High Court has stated the correct constitutional position. They (the Delhi government) have the right to go the highest court. But, in my opinion they should accept that their powers are limited.”

Bidyut Chakraborty, a professor of political science, Delhi University, agreed and said the Delhi government has to work under LG, “a constitutional authority”.

“Delhi is not a full-fledged state. Delhi is a state with limited capacity,” said Chakraborty.

“So, it cannot insist on the rights and authorities of a full state. Hence, LG is not bound by the advice of the Delhi government, but he is bound by the advice of the union cabinet. That is the constitutional position,” he added.

However, Narender Kumar, professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University said that the tussle between the city and the central government was not a new thing.

“This is not the first time that there is a tussle between state government and the centre. This tussle was there earlier. It could not be resolved taking into consideration the larger interest of the nation,” said Narender Kumar.

“Giving full statehood to Delhi may not be the solution considering the kind of position Delhi has.”

(Sidhartha Dutta can be contacted at sidhartha.d@ians.in)



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