SC to deliver verdict on Delhi-Centre services row on Thursday

The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce its verdict on the vexatious Centre-Delhi government row over control of services in the national capital on Thursday.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud is likely to deliver the judgment.

According to the cause list updated on the Supreme Court’s website, only one verdict in the matter is likely to be pronounced by the CJI.

The bench, also comprising Justices M R Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P S Narasimha, had reserved its order on January 18 after hearing the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and senior advocate A M Singhvi for the Centre and the Delhi government respectively for almost four-and-a-half days.

The Constitution bench was set up to hear the legal issue concerning the scope of legislative and executive powers of the Centre and the National Capital Territory government over control of services in Delhi.

On May 6 last year, the top court had referred the issue of control of services in Delhi to a five-judge Constitution bench.

The plea moved by the Delhi government arises out of a split verdict of February 14, 2019, in which a two-judge bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, both now retired, had recommended to the CJI that a three-judge bench be set up to finally decide the issue of control of services in the national capital.

Justice Bhushan had ruled that the Delhi government had no power at all over administrative services, while Justice Sikri had made a distinction. He had said the transfer or posting of officers in the top echelons of the bureaucracy (joint director and above) can only be done by the Centre and the lieutenant governor’s view will prevail in case of a difference of opinion on matters related to other bureaucrats.

In a 2018 judgment, a five-judge Constitution bench had unanimously held that the Delhi LG was bound by the aid and advice of the elected government, and both needed to work harmoniously with each other.

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