L-G can destabilize MCD with power to appoint aldermen, says SC

Source: The post is based on the article “L-G can destabilize MCD with power to appoint aldermen, says SC” published in The Hindu on 24th May 2023

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has said that holding the power to nominate aldermen to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) may arm the Lieutenant Governor with muscle to destabilize a democratically-elected local body.

Who are Aldermen?

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What is the case before the Supreme Court?

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court by the Delhi government seeking quashing of the orders and notifications issued by the L-G nominating 10 persons under the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act, 1957 as nominated members of the MCD. 

The plea also sought directions to the L-G to nominate members to the MCD under the DMC Act in accordance with the aid and advice of the council of ministers in the Legislative Assembly of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD).

The Delhi government’s plea relied on the 2018 Constitution bench judgment of the SC which says the L-G is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers of GNCTD in relation to matters within the legislative scope of the territory.

What are the observations made by the Supreme Court on this?

The Additional Solicitor General, representing LG argued that there is a distinction between the powers of the L-G under Article 239AA of the Constitution and their role as an Administrator of the national capital. He claimed that the L-G has an active role in the nomination of aldermen based on the law.

However, the SC stated that by giving this power to the L-G, it could potentially destabilize the democratically elected MCD.

The SC also clarified that the L-G does not have extensive executive powers in the national capital, which operates under a unique “Asymmetric Federal Model” of governance.

The court specified that the L-G can exercise executive power at their discretion only in three specific areas, under Article 239AA(3)(a): 1) Public order 2) Police and 3) Land in Delhi.

The court also stated that if the L-G disagrees with the Council of Ministers of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, they should follow the procedure outlined in the Transaction of Business (ToB) Rules 1961.

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