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Centre-Delhi tussle: Supreme Court refuses to entertain AAP government's plea

Supreme Court today refused to entertain a Delhi government plea that the High Court be asked to first decide the preliminary issue as to whether it has the jurisdiction over disputes between the Centre and the state or is it 'exclusively' triable by the apex court.

Centre-Delhi tussle: Supreme Court refuses to entertain AAP governments plea
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Supreme Court of India

New Delhi

The apex court also asked the Delhi government, which had moved the High Court seeking judgment on the scope of its powers under Article 239 AA of the Constitution, to approach it only after the Delhi High Court decides all the issues including the preliminary issue as to whether it has the jurisdiction over the dispute.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said when the High Court has heard the matter and reserved the judgment on all the issues including the preliminary issue of jurisdiction, it will be open to the Delhi government to approach it after the High Court verdict on the entire issue.

Disposing of the AAP government appeal, the bench said the High Court was a 'constitutional court' and had the power to decide and interpret constitutional matters like this.'

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Delhi government, referred to constitutional provisions dealing with the powers of Delhi as a union territory.

"Delhi has an elected and responsible government and judgment of this court applies in this case that the Lt Governor has to run the administration on the aid and advice of the Chief Minister and Council of ministers," Jaising said, adding that this dispute was exclusively triable by the apex court.

"Tell me why you (Delhi government) knocked the door of the Delhi High Court first. You knocked the doors of the Delhi High Court under Article 226. Now High Court has reserved the judgment and every court has the power to determine its jurisdiction. Whether it is adjudicable under Article 226 or under Article 131, the High Court can very well decide the jurisdiction," the bench said.

Jaising in her brief arguments said the High Court has no power to decide the dispute of this nature between the Centre and the state and hence it be asked to decide the jurisdictional aspect as the preliminary issue.

The Supreme Court then asked the senior lawyer as to why the Delhi government did not withdraw its plea from the High Court.

However, SC agreed with the submission of the Delhi government that the dispute of the Constitutional nature between two federal entities should be decided expeditiously.

"You have come with the Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the matter when the High Court has already reserved the judgment," the bench said, adding that High Court is entitled to its views on Constitutional matters as they are 'independent'.

"Had it been a (civil) suit or a writ petition, we will have issued notice instantly. What order can we pass today in this case. Why should we tell the High Court that decide this issue or don't decide it on merits", the bench said.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, referred to an earlier order of the apex court asking the Delhi High Court to finalise the matter by the end of July this year.

"High Court had reserved the verdict pursuant to Supreme Court's order. This is a misconceived SLP," Rohatgi said.

The bench also said "constitutional issues cannot be compromised. Once the matter is pending in the High Court, then it shall decide the issue rightly or wrongly."

Delhi government's plea was listed for today's bench as two judges of the apex court - J S Khehar and L Nageshwar Rao had earlier recused from hearing it.

In its plea, Delhi government, has sought a declaration of its power and to restrain the High Court from delivering the verdict on host of issues including the scope of its powers.

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