No Union Territory Has Own Services: Centre To Court Amid Row With Delhi

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No Union Territory has its own services under the Constitution, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday, and disputed Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s claim about non-cooperation by government officials.
The Centre alleged that Mr Sisodia tried to create an “unwarranted prejudice” to ensure that AAP government’s interpretation of Article 239AA is accepted by the top court.

Article 239AA of the Constitution grants special status to Delhi among the Union Territories through the 69th constitutional amendment.

The affidavit filed by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on behalf of the Centre said the illustration (given by Mr Sisodia in an affidavit about non-cooperation of officials) are, by and large, vague and incapable of any precise examination by the central government more particularly, when “no contemporaneous intimation of alleged failure is communicated to the central government”.

“I state and submit that the administration of any unit of the administration, be it central government, state government or Union Territory requires a very skillful coordination between the political executives and persons working in connection with the affairs of the respective unit.

“Such coordination takes place by effective administrative skills and not with the threat of control over the officers or employees,” he said.

Mr Bhalla added the very fact that right from 1993, the system has worked very smoothly is testimony to this fact and he (Mr Sisodia) is advised not to say anything further on this issue as it would be improper to do so.

Referring to the nine-judge Constitution bench verdict in 1997, he said it had held that Delhi is a Union Territory and no UT under the Constitution has its own services which are not controlled by the Centre.

The Centre and the Delhi government are locked in a bitter feud over control of services in the Union Territory.

Mr Bhalla said, “I have verified from all senior level officials of GNCTD about non-receipt of telecalls etc. and I have found that no such incidents have ever happened. It is submitted that all officials attended all meetings except on some occasions. On enquiry, I have learnt that the dates on which some officers could not attend the meetings were the dates on which they were assigned some other duties by the Delhi government itself.” He insisted Mr Sisodia’s claims were “incorrect”.

“I am advised not to deal with individual’s illustrations which would have clearly shown the falsehood contained therein since the deponent of the affidavit is the Deputy Chief Minister and it may not be proper, appropriate or in good taste to deal with such assertions, more particularly, when I have found them to be not true,” he said. The Union home secretary, however, said he reserves the liberty to file affidavit qua each of the assertions made as and when so advised.

On November 11, the top court had said it will step back from the “actual arena of political conflict” between the Delhi government and the Centre and only deal with the constitutional issue related to the control of services in the national capital.

The observations had come when Delhi government’s counsel Abhishek Singhvi wanted to bring to the notice of the bench an affidavit by Mr Sisodia in which he alleged there was a “paralysis in administration” as no bureaucrat was responding to ministers’ calls.

The Centre had vehemently opposed Mr Sisodia’s affidavit, saying it was filed when the case was already fixed for hearing. Mr Sisodia, in the affidavit, alleged that Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena had “derailed” governance in Delhi by encouraging the “recalcitrance of civil servants” towards the elected government.

The affidavit alleged Mr Saxena is “running a parallel system of governance in the NCT of Delhi” by taking unilateral executive decisions.

“Civil servants serving in the Government of NCT of Delhi have become indifferent to the elected government. The net result is that the basic day-to-day functioning of the Government of NCT of Delhi stands completely jeopardised.

“The problem has become even more acute with the appointment of the incumbent Lieutenant Governor earlier this year. Any cooperation between the civil servants and the elected government is sought to be penalised and recalcitrance towards the elected government is being encouraged,” it alleged.

The AAP government said the “unconstitutional and undemocratic encroachment” of the powers of a duly elected government has made governance in Delhi challenging and unnecessarily difficult.

It contended this has led to a situation where officials have stopped attending meetings called by the ministers and even stopped taking their calls.

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