The Additional Solicitor General of India, Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, representing the Union of India in the ongoing constitutional bench hearing of GNCTD v. Union of India advanced his arguments today before the five-judge bench. The following is a brief summary of his arguments:
- Delhi is to be treated just like any other Union territory and there is no change in its status with the constitutional amendment that added Article 239AA
It was submitted by the ASG that apart from a few provisions, the provisions under Article 239AA, and the GNCTD Act of 1991 were same as those in the Union Territories Act, 1963 or the 1966 Act that governs the Union territory of Pondicherry. Therefore, just because it is in the Constitution, does not mean that it should be given a different interpretation than the statutory provisions.
He further added that the amendment in the case of Delhi was made in the Constitution to ensure that the demand and struggle for statehood is difficult to agree to as amending a constitutional provision requires a special majority in the parliament.
The legislative intent is visible through the Balakrishnan Committee of 1987 and its recommendations that suggested that Delhi should be a territory administered by the Central Government.
- Total executive power and control for NCT Delhi vests in the President
There is no exclusive executive power vested in the Council of Ministers and the Chief Minister, they only have a participatory role.
The aid and advise given to the LG by the Council of Ministers and the Chief Minister is not binding as there is no executive power that vests in the Council of Ministers of GNCTD, and should not be given the same meaning as in Article 74 and 163
The final executive power vests in the President, who acts on the aid and advise of the Union Council of Ministers, and hence, the final responsibility and power for NCT Delhi rests on the Central Government. The President is vested with this executive power under Article 53.
- “Any matter” means every matter in Article 239AA(4) proviso
The proviso to Article 239AA(4) that provides for matters on which there may be a difference of opinion between the council of ministers and the LG, reference has to be made to the President by the LG; the ASG submitted that ‘any matter’ must be read as ‘every matter’
Such difference of opinion has to be on a substantive matter and only then the reference to the President is made.
The phrase ‘any matter’ should mean ‘every matter’ in the literal as well as the contextual sense of the word, and there is no requirement for any constitutional implication when the text is clear.