NEW DELHI: The Delhi government on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to fix hearing on its plea against Centre's new law taking away control of bureaucrats from the elected government in the national capital, while complaining that civil servants were not following its orders.
Appearing for Delhi government, senior advocate A M Singhvi submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud that he cannot express the agony of the administration, while requesting the court to expedite hearing on its petition against the Centre’s new law.
The bench, for its part, said there are older Constitution bench matters, being taken up for hearing and there are two seven-judge bench matters coming up for hearing.
The bench said all these matters are also important and they have been pending for long.
Singhvi said since this matter will close interpretation this way or that way, the court could find a place in between Constitution bench matters to hear the Delhi government matter.
The Centre’s counsel, however, contended that the questions framed initially will have to be changed.
The bench asked Singhvi and Centre’s counsel to sit together and complete the procedural steps and then mention the matter again before the court for a fixed date of hearing.
The bench also said it will appoint advocate Shadan Farasat as nodal counsel and gave the counsel to prepare the submissions in four weeks.
On August 25, the court had allowed the Delhi government to amend its petition challenging the recently passed law by Parliament in connection with the control over services in the national capital.
Singhvi had then contended before the top court that the earlier the challenge was directed against the Ordinance which has now become law after it was cleared by Parliament.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had then recorded his no objection on amendment to the plea.
The court allowed the amendment to the petition and granted four weeks’ time to the Centre to file its response to the amended plea.
Parliament has cleared the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2023, also known as the Delhi Services Bill, taking away the control over services from the Delhi government.
Before this, the challenge to the Centre’s ordinance over services was referred by the apex court to a five-judge Constitution bench.
In July, the Supreme Court had said a Constitution bench of five-judge, will examine the contours of the power of Parliament to enact a law under Article 239-AA (7) and if Parliament can abrogate the constitutional principles of governance for the Delhi government by making a law taking away its control over services.
The Delhi government had sought a stay of the NCT Ordinance on the ground that it prevents the Government of NCTD from meeting its popular mandate. The top court refused to entertain state government submissions against referral of the matter to the Constitution bench.
The court had said it is for the first time, Centre has used power conferred under clause 7 of Article 239AA to take services outside the purview of Delhi government and in a way, amended the Constitution.
The court would have to see whether it is permissible, the bench had then said.
The bench also pointed out that the issue of whether the powers under Article 239AA(7)(a) of the Constitution could be invoked to make the law of the present nature was not considered in either of the Constitution bench judgements delivered 2018 and 2023.
In its plea, the Delhi government contended that the Ordinance wrested control over civil servants serving in the Government of NCT of Delhi (GNCTD) and vested it to the unelected Lieutenant Governor.
In its original plea, the Delhi government sought a direction to quash the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance 2023, as unconstitutional.
It also stated the Ordinance overruled the Constitution bench judgement of May 11, 2023 without altering its basis, which was that accountability of civil servants to the elected arm of the government, and the elected government’s control over the civil service.