The Supreme Court has decided with crystal clear clarity that, in a democracy, the people decide who will rule them, which applies equally to the national capital New Delhi. And it is not up to the Centre to act any more on a matter other than public order, police and land.
The ruling of a five-judge Constitution Bench should, in theory, have cast light on the separation of powers in a federal setup, except that polarised politics of the day is such that pinpricks continue to be delivered to the AAP government of Arvind Kejriwal through control of the bureaucracy.
It also stands to reason that elected governments have the power to appoint bureaucrats of their choice and it is distressing to note that the AAP must approach the top court again to define this even more explicitly. Governing the National Capital Territory may bristle with a few complications given the security scenario of protection to those in charge of governing the nation, but matters can be sorted if the Centre accepts the principle that is being enunciated here.
Given the political bad blood between the BJP and the AAP ever since the latter was elected with a clear mandate and the subsequent 2015 home ministry notification asserting its control over services brought in with the obvious motive of retaining control, the administration had become a battleground with bureaucrats caught between the popular government and the Centre acting through the lieutenant governor.
Now that the provisions of Article 239AA have been upheld and executive power over services like the IAS, or joint cadre services lies with the NCTD, the L-G is bound by decisions of the elected government. There should be less cause for conflict, but the fear is areas of contention would be created even where none should exist given that the current L-G’s record since he assumed office in May last year had sowed the seeds for larger confrontations.
Only acceptance of the spirit and wording of the verdict will lead to unimpeded administration along the lines chosen by the government of the day. The judgment has to do with upholding the democratic norms of shared governance in a federal setup and the Centre would be well-advised not to place impediments anymore in the governance of Delhi.