SC Refers Dispute Over Control of National Services to Five-Judge Bench

The top court asked the counsel for the BJP-led Union government and the AAP-led Delhi government to argue the case on May 11.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday, May 6, referred to a five-judge constitution bench the dispute between the Union government and the Delhi government over control of services in the national capital.

A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said the Constitution bench had dealt with all issues arising out of the dispute except the issue of control over services.

The top court asked the counsel for the Centre and the AAP-led Delhi government to argue the case on May 11.

It had reserved its order on April 28 on the Centre’s submission that the dispute over the control over services be referred to a five-judge bench, a plea which was strongly opposed by the AAP-led Delhi government.

The plea 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 retired since, had recommended to the Chief Justice of India that a three-judge bench be set up to finally decide the issue of control of services in the national capital in view of its split verdict.

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

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