Centre vs Delhi govt: SC reserves order on plea to refer matter to larger bench
New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on Centre's plea to refer its dispute with the Delhi government - on transfer and posting of officers in the national capital - to a five-judge constitution bench.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Delhi government, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana that once a constitution bench decides the matter, there is no point in referring back to it.
In 2018, a constitution bench had ruled that police, land, and public order are the domain of the Centre, and the rest is under the Delhi government. Singhvi insisted that every slightest thing pointed out cannot be referred to the larger bench.
The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, said the issue is there were two parts of constitutional provision, and the problem arises when they refer to a provision but there's no conclusion, and in that scenario it becomes a necessity to refer the matter to a larger bench.
To this, Singhvi replied that it is not necessary to refer the issue to a larger bench and the present three judge bench can also decide it. As the bench asked "What prejudice will be caused if referred?", he said the question is "Why should it be referred?"
Singhvi added that a constitution bench reference arising from another constitution bench is rare, but added "I am not disputing your lordships' power to refer it."
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that there was a finding that there's been no consideration and the judges asked the matter to be referred.
Pressing for this matter to be referred to a larger bench, he said the earlier judgements of the five-judge bench did not give "any roadmap" to decide, whether the Central government or the Delhi government will have the competence to deal with the subject under dispute.
During the hearing, the bench noted that if a constitution bench is constituted, it would want the hearing to conclude by May 15. Both sides agreed that hearing in the matter can be concluded before the summer vacation commences.
After a detailed hearing in the matter, the top court reserved its decision on Centre's plea. The Centre moved an application seeking to refer the matter to a constitution bench for a holistic interpretation of Article 239AA of the Constitution.
"The applicant submits issues involve a substantial question of law requiring interpretation of a provision of the Constitution and the key issues involved in the present matter cannot be determined unless the same is decided by a constitution bench in terms of Article 145 (3) of the Constitution," said the application.