CM Kejriwal removes Services secretary hours after SC verdict delineating Delhi-Centre powers

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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal | Photo: ANI

New Delhi: Secretary of the Delhi government's Services department Ashish More was removed from his post on Thursday, hours after the Supreme Court gave the AAP dispensation control over the transfer and posting of officers in the state, officials said.

Earlier in the day, the apex court pronounced that the Delhi government has legislative and executive powers over administration of services except for matters relating to public order, police and land.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a press conference said there will be a major administrative reshuffle in the government, warning of action against officers who "obstructed" public works.

Prior to the verdict of the court, the Services department was under the control of Delhi's Lieutenant Governor.

Supreme Court while hearing the matter highlighted that the Centre must exercise its powers within the boundaries created by the Constitution and the Delhi government be allowed to function in its domain, saying the “principles of democracy and federalism are essential features” and form part of the basic structure.

“The Union of India must exercise its powers within the boundaries created by the Constitution. NCTD having a sui generis (unique) federal model, must be allowed to function in the domain charted for it by the Constitution,” said the judgement on the issue of a festering feud over services between the ruling AAP dispensation and the Centre.

The top court observed that though the National Capital territory of Delhi (NCTD) could not be accorded the status of a state under the Constitution, the concept of federalism would still be applicable to it.

“The principles of democracy and federalism are essential features of our Constitution and form a part of the basic structure. Federalism in a multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic country like India ensures the representation of diverse interests. It is a means to reconcile the desire of commonality along with the desire for autonomy and accommodate diverse needs in a pluralistic society,” it said.

Recognising regional aspirations strengthens the unity of the country and embodies the spirit of democracy, it said.

“Thus, in any federal Constitution, at a minimum, there is a dual polity, that is, two sets of government operate: one at the level of the national government and the second at the level of the regional federal units. These dual sets of government, elected by “We the People” in two separate electoral processes, is a dual manifestation of the public will...,” it said.

It said though Delhi is not a full-fledged state, its legislative assembly is constitutionally entrusted with the power to legislate upon the subjects in the State List and Concurrent List of the Constitution.

“It is not a State under the First Schedule to the Constitution, yet it is conferred with power to legislate upon subjects in Lists II and III to give effect to the aspirations of the people of NCTD. It has a democratically elected government which is accountable to the people of NCTD,” it said.

Referring to the ‘sui generis' character of Delhi, the unanimous verdict said this is the asymmetric federal model adopted for the national capital.

“While NCTD remains a Union Territory, the unique constitutional status conferred upon it makes it a federal entity for the purpose of understanding the relationship between the Union and NCTD. The majority in the 2018 Constitution Bench judgment held that while NCTD could not be accorded the status of a State, the concept of federalism would still be applicable to NCTD,” it said.

The interpretation of Article 239AA, which deals with the power and status of Delhi in the Constitution, in an “expansive manner” would further the basic structure of federalism, it said.


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