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The SC verdict sought to put an end to the festering dispute between the Centre and the Delhi government triggered by a 2015 home ministry notification asserting its control over services

Supreme Court reserves verdict on Delhi-Centre services row

The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on the vexatious Centre-Delhi government row over control of services in the national capital.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud heard Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and senior advocate A M Singhvi for the central and the Delhi governments, respectively, for almost four-and-half days before reserving the judgement.

Scope of powers

Earlier, the constitution bench was set up to hear the legal issue concerning the scope of legislative and executive powers of the Centre and the National Capital Territory government over control of services in Delhi.

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On May 6, the top court had referred to a five-judge Constitution bench the issue of control of services in Delhi.

Split verdict in 2019

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 now retired, 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.

Justice Bhushan had ruled the Delhi government had no power at all over administrative services, while Justice Sikri 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 will prevail in case of a difference of opinion on matters related to other bureaucrats.

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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.

(With Agency inputs)

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