Supreme Court dismisses PIL challenging GNCTD (Amendment) Ordinance 2023

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The AAP government has challenged the Ordinance claiming that it is an unconstitutional exercise of executive fiat, which violated the scheme of federal, democratic governance entrenched for the NCTD in Article 239AA

The Supreme Court today dismissed a PIL challenging the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance 2023.

Notably, the ordinance is said to "wrest" control over civil servants from the Delhi government to the Lieutenant Governor.

A bench comprising CJI Chandrachud, Justice Narasimha and Justice Manoj Misra at the outset questioned locus of the petitioner appearing in person and expressed its inclination to impose costs.

"We read these papers and come, infrastructural costs are involved..who are you to challenge this ordinance?", said the bench.

At this juncture, the petitioner requested the bench to tag his plea with the Delhi government's challenge.

Court refused to allow the same. The petitioner accordingly went on to withdraw his plea.

Recently, the Supreme Court had allowed an application moved by the Delhi government seeking to amend its petition challenging the ordinance introduced by the Union in May this year "wresting" control over civil servants from the Delhi government to the Lieutenant Governor.

An application was moved seeking amendment as the ordinance was recently passed by the Parliament and received President Droupadi Murmu’s assent on August 12, 2023.

On July 20, the Supreme Court had referred the challenge made by the Delhi government to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance 2023 to a Constitution bench.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had expressed its inclination to refer the Delhi Governemnt's plea to a 5-judge Constitution bench. Senior Advocate Singhvi had objected to this and said, "Let me show why this should not be referred to a constitution bench. Let me give a one pager on Thursday, it will just take ten minutes..".

The CJI led bench had further observed then, that the issue whether the powers under Article 239AA(7)(a) of the Constitution could be invoked to make the law of the instant nature was not considered in its recent Constitution Bench judgment.

Notably, the Centre recently informed the Supreme Court that the impugned Ordinance, which is yet to be tested in the Parliament, if stayed, would cause an irreparable harm to the administration of GNCTD.

The Supreme Court had also refused to grant interim stay on the Ordinance which "wrested" control over civil servants serving in the Government of NCT of Delhi from the Delhi government and "vested it to the unelected Lieutenant Governor".

The Delhi government has claimed that the Ordinance shows contempt for elected assembly and elected government while making a pretense of their involvement through the Chief Minister. 

On May 11, a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court held that it is ideal to hold that a democratically elected Delhi government should have control over its officers and the LG is bound by the advice of the elected government, except in matters of public order, police, and land. It had also said that if the government is not able to control and hold to account the officers posted in its service, then its responsibility towards the legislature as well as the public is diluted. 

Case Title: Mukesh Kumar vs. LG, Delhi