The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that transfers and postings in Delhi should stay under its control, contending that the entire world views India through Delhi and the city also houses high officials from all countries, therefore, it needs special powers over the administration.
The Centre also moved an application seeking to refer the matter to a constitution bench for a holistic interpretation of Article 239AA of the Constitution.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana that the entire world looks at Delhi and also high officials of all countries are in the national capital.
He emphasised since Delhi is the national capital, it is necessary that the Centre has powers over appointments and transfers of public servants. He contended before the bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, that “Delhi is the face of the nation. The world views India through Delhi.”
The Centre has argued that the question is not about any political party governing the capital, rather Delhi’s laws were guided by how the capital would be administered.
Citing Balakrishnan Committee report, which had concluded that it will be in the national interest for Delhi to be under control of the Centre, to defend the Centre’s stand, he emphasised there is a difference between administering Puducherry and Delhi, and pointed out that controlling administration in Delhi also allows the Centre to discharge its national and international duties.
Ge submitted that being the capital of the country, it is essential that Centre has control over important issues.
In 2018, a constitution bench had ruled that police, land and public order are the domain of the Centre, and the rest is under the Delhi government.
The Centre filed an application to refer the matter to a five-judge constitution bench.
“The applicant submits issues involve a substantial question of law requiring interpretation of a provision of the Constitution and the key issues involved in the present matter cannot be determined unless the same is decided by a constitution bench in terms of Article 145 (3) of the Constitution,” said the application.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Delhi government, contended that there is no need to refer the matter to a larger bench. He said in the past few hearings on the matter, the Centre has been arguing for sending it to the constitution bench. The hearing in the matter will continue.
On April 12, the Supreme Court commenced the hearing on the dispute between the Centre and the Delhi government in connection with the control over administrative services in the capital. The AAP government alleged that the Centre has been “negating” federalism by taking away its power of transfers and postings.