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Justice DY Chandrachud Led Constitutional Bench to Hear Issue of Control of Services under Article 239AA

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Priya Gour

22nd August, 2022 at 17:47 IST

The Constitutional Bench led by Justice DY Chandachud has been constituted by the Supreme Court to decide upon the Centre and Delhi government’s legal disputes regarding control over the capital’s administrative services.

The matter pertains to the applicability of the Delhi government’s powers in legislative and executive matters for the services. These services fall under Schedule VII, List II, Entry 41 of the Constitution of India. The question arises as to whether the Delhi government has administrative control over the service officials allocated in the UT [such as IAS, IPS, DANICS, and DANIPS].

Different views have been expressed by two Judges of Supreme Court in 2019, after which the matter was put before a three-member constitution bench.

Further in May 2022, the bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana ordered that the issue be referred to a Constitution Bench in terms of Article 145(3) of the Constitution. In this failure to conduct the hearings in the matter, the CJI made an oral mention of the same.

The Delhi government had filed an instant writ petition to challenge the GNCTD (Amendment) Act 2021. The related matter was referred as a case to a larger bench by a 2-judge bench in 2019.

The bench had given varying verdicts regarding the powers of the GNCTD and the Union Government over services. The matter was consequently referred to a larger bench, as it was decided to be taken up by the CJI-led 3 judge bench.

The Centre wants clarity on the powers of a Constitution Bench to interpret Article 239AA. Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta, centre counsel, submitted that on a bare reading of the 2017 order, it provides some vague clarity on the interpretation of Article 239AA, but the 2018 order did not address all aspects of the said Article.

Union of India further submitted that referral to a Constitution Bench is necessary for a holistic interpretation of Article 239AA which is central to the determination of issues involved.

The Delhi government’s counsel, Advocate AM Singhvi, objected to the Centre’s claim. It was submitted that the Union’s request for referral of issues already dealt with was a reconsideration or review of the judgement of the constitution bench. This can not be claimed to be a mere referral.

The questions will now be decided by the new Constitutional Bench.