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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 29 New Delhi July 7, 2018

SC Upholds People’s Will

Monday 9 July 2018, by SC


Yesterday’s verdict of the country’s Apex Court on the ongoing tussle between the Lt Governor of Delhi and Delhi Government is of extraordinary significance. As has been underscored by The Indian Express while analysing the verdict, there are two major points in the judgment of the five-judge Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India: “one, the ultimate legitimacy, and the consequent responsibility to exercise power on behalf of the people, lies with the elected legislature and the Council of Ministers; two, while Delhi is not a full State, the LG is ‘bound by the aid and advice’ of the Delhi Government”.

In an earlier pronouncement the Delhi High Court had stated that the LG was the administrative head who did not require to act on the Delhi Cabinet’s advice. In contrast the Apex Court explained that Article 239AA of the Constitution should not mechanically be applied; while the constitutional provision allows the LG to refer to the President “any matter” on which he holds an opinion different from that of the government, the SC clarified that “any matter” should not turn into “every matter” and hence it was essential that before involving the Centre the LG and Delhi Government must engage in a dialogue making it abundantly clear that the two must “embrace the collaborative federal structure” that the Constitution upholds. In this context the AAP’s allegation that due to the tussle with the LG the setting up of 1000 mohaila clinics and doorstep delivery of rations were delayed cannot be summarily brushed aside. What is important, the SC has elucidated that the AAP Government needs to only communicate all its decisions to the LG without waiting for his concurrence.

It is imperative for the AAP Government not to be carried away by this judgment and fully engage itself in the serious agenda of governance. At the same time the essence of the verdict should not be lost on any of the actors in Delhi’s political drama: as stressed in the media, the “office of the LG must only assist, not obstruct, the government”. Indeed one cannot agree more with The Indian Express when it points out that the “Supreme Court has stood up for the will of the people and the spirit of the Constitution”.

On the international plane there is one piece of welcome news: the election of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a Leftist pragmatist, as the new Mexican President; he has won a landslide victory—securing more than double the votes of his nearest rival—thereby dealing a massive blow to the parties of the establishment. He has promised to end corruption, reduce violence and perseveringly address the basic issue of poverty. But would he be allowed to function freely without external interference? In the conditions in Latin America today anything is possible.

July 5 S.C.

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