Day 4 GNCTD v. Union of India- Chidambram: “LG should be given the power to have a ‘difference of opinion’ only in exceptional circumstances”

The Constitutional Bench hearing for GNCTD v. Union of India on day 4 saw Senior Advocate, Mr. P. Chidambaram arguing for the Government of NCT Delhi. He commenced his arguments by remarking that the constitution is a political legal document. Through the struggle for independence, it became clear that the best form of governance is the parliamentary form, and therefore, the Supreme Court should interpret the document as representing the aspirations of the people whose representatives wrote it. He emphasized that this should also apply to a constitutional amendment, and such amendment must affirm and advance the principle that it is a democracy. Any system that diminishes it, must be rejected. On interpretation of Article 239AA, he remarked that the LG should be given the power to have a “difference of opinion” only in exceptional circumstances. The interpretation of the Delhi High Court has made the LG as if he was the Viceroy of the British Crown.

To interpret the ambit of the LG’s difference of opinion on “any matter” as provided in the proviso to Article 239AA(4), Mr. Chidambaram pursued his argument by assuming that the term “any matter” includes “every matter”. On a further reading of the proviso, it becomes clear that the LG has to refer such difference of opinion on ‘any matter’ to the President for his decision. He added that if under Article 239AA, the GNCTD has an elected government, it surely wasn’t the intention that every matter could be referred to the President, and the final decisions would be handed by him. Mr. Chidambaram argued that it would defeat the purpose of an elected government as is established under Article 239AA. He therefore concluded that a narrow construction should be given to the phrase ‘any matter’, and only after going through the procedure of reconciliation, if there is no solution, should a matter be considered for escalation to the President.

Mr. Chidambaram has concluded his arguments and Senior Advocate Indira Jaising will commence her arguments on Tuesday, 14th November, 2017.