In a path-breaking ruling, the Supreme Court of India has delivered a resounding victory for the people of Delhi in the ‘Services’ case. The apex court has safeguarded the powers of the elected government of Delhi and thwarted all attempts to undermine its authority being made by the BJP-led Central Government. The court has ruled in its unanimous verdict that the Delhi government has legislative and executive control over services in the Capital. The Supreme Court also said that governance in Delhi is like that in any other states and the LG is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers of the Delhi Government. Making the separation of powers of the state government and the LG amply clear, the court said that the Delhi Government will control administrative services on all aspects except land, public order and police.
The judgement has been hailed as a significant triumph by the Aam Aadmi Party, whose leaders have expressed their utmost gratitude to the Chief Justice of India and the constitutional bench for their unwavering commitment to justice. Addressing the media on Thursday, Cabinet Ministers Shri Gopal Rai, Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj and Ms Atishi lauded the Supreme Court’s verdict, recognizing it as a monumental gift to the citizens of Delhi. As per the ministers, this groundbreaking judgement has not only secured the powers of elected governments but also heralded a new era of accountability and democratic governance in Delhi.
Shri Gopal Rai emphasised that this decision would effectively curtail the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) efforts to usurp power from elected governments across the nation. He further criticised the Modi Government for unconstitutionally obstructing the projects of the elected government of Delhi and coercing officials through the Lieutenant Governor (LG).
Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj proclaimed that the verdict of the constitutional bench would be eternally etched in the annals of history. He praised the Chief Justice of India for emerging as a hero and credited the Supreme Court for reinstating the rightful powers of the people of Delhi, an achievement that commands deep reverence.
Ms Atishi underscored the binding nature of the Supreme Court’s ruling, highlighting that the LG is obligated to adhere to the decisions of the Delhi Government. She expressed that the LG does not possess the authority to make decisions but merely has the responsibility of perusing the relevant documents.
During the press conference, Shri Gopal Rai said that the judgement of the Supreme Court today is a big gift for the residents of Delhi. He said that apart from it being a big win for the people of Delhi, it is also a tight slap on the face of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi-led Central Government that has constantly misused its powers to interfere into the works of the democratically elected government in Delhi.
Speaking about the services department that was earlier with the state government, Shri Gopal Rai said, “The earlier Supreme Court order was in our favour, but the Narendra Modi-led Central Government made a mockery of the order, and through the medium of the LG Office and the Ministry of Home Affairs, it went on to usurp the powers that were constitutionally given to the elected state government of Delhi. After that the Central Government threatened the government officials to report to its nominees and intentionally ran a campaign to derail all the developmental works that were taking place in the city. Today the judgement of the Supreme Court has made it clear that if Shri Narendra Modi believed that he could trample over the democratic processes in the country using money power, then this will not be allowed in the country. There can be a slight delay in the truth emerging, but truth cannot be trampled and this has been proven today. I would like to congratulate the people of Delhi for this major victory of theirs,” he said.
Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj said that the battle for the people of Delhi that Shri Arvind Kejriwal has been fighting for since 2014, today he has won it with this court order. He also said that today it has emerged that whenever there will be any negative forces working in the country, then irrespective of whether any other democratic institution will stand against these forces, the Indian judiciary and particularly the Supreme Court certainly will stand with the people.
Lauding the Supreme Court judgement regarding the services department, he said that this is an order that will be remembered in history. “When we were younger, we would see popular actors such as Shri Amitabh Bachhan play the role of a police officer in a film and then tell our parents that we also would want to become a cop one day. Then in another film, we would see some other popular actor play the role of the doctor, and then we wanted to become a doctor too. Similarly, in some films, if the lead actor is a lawyer, then we felt that this is a profession that can bring about a positive change in society. Today if there is any youngster who has some knowledge about the legal process and the condition of the nation, he will certainly hail Chief Justice DY Chandrachud as the hero, and tell his parents that he wants to become a judge someday. I believe that that day is not far when the lead actors will play the role of a judge. Today, our country has got a great hero in the form of the Chief Justice of India, and I would like to thank him and the remaining four judges who gave this judgement today on behalf of the people of Delhi,” he said.
He further said that the right of the residents of Delhi that the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi-led Central Government had forcibly snatched from them has today been restored to the people by this historic judgement. He added that it will not be wrong to say that this order is a firm slap on the face of the Central Government that has over the years encroached upon the rights of the people of Delhi.
Explaining the implications of the court order, he said, “Like the Honourable Chief Justice explained in his judgement, all the IAS and DANICS officers were till now reporting to the Central Government via the LG. If an officer was inefficient, there was no way of shifting him out of the department. There was no way of controlling the officers in terms of the welfare of the people. Now, all this power, which are generally called ‘Services’ – executive and legislative powers – all lie with the elected government of Delhi and this has been reiterated by the Supreme Court that the LG is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Minister in all the subjects, other than Police, Public Order and Land. This has now been made amply clear by the court,” he said.
Ms Atishi congratulated the people of Delhi for their historic win today and said that the court order essentially implies that the decisions taken in favour of the residents of Delhi will from now on be binding on the officers of the Delhi Government. “Today it is the people of Delhi who have really won, as the court has given an order that is in favour of the people and the democratic process of this country. In 2015, the residents of Delhi elected the Kejriwal-led government. It was a landslide victory for AAP as they went on to win 67 out of the 70 seats. But the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi-led BJP cannot digest the fact that they can be defeated by the people of India,” she said.
She pointed out that wherever the BJP goes on to lose the elections, it tries to usurp the powers of the elected government through unfair and illegal means. She revealed that the BJP tried to break the AAP Government in Delhi by using Operation Lotus and trying to ‘buy’ its MLAs, but when it failed in its attempts, it tried out another illegal tactic. “But after eight years today, the Supreme Court has made it very clear to everyone that only those people who are elected by the residents of Delhi will be permitted to make decisions for them. So, when the people have elected Shri Arvind Kejriwal, it is his government that will take the decisions for the people on their behalf. I would like to congratulate the people of Delhi and thank the Supreme Court on the behalf of the people of Delhi. Today the Supreme Court has not just given a decision, but it has saved the Constitution of India and the democratic process in India,” she said.
She concluded by saying that if the powers of a democratically elected government are snatched away, then it makes the power of the vote of the people futile. She added that the Narendra Modi-led Central Government had tried to snatch this power from the people, and the court has stood tall and made it clear that if any such attempts are made by the Central Government, then the court will intervene and protect the rights of the citizens.