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SC refers Delhi govt’s plea over Centre’s ordinance to 5-judge constitution bench

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday referred, to a five-judge Constitution Bench, the Delhi government’s plea challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance brought by the Centre on control of services in the national capital.


A bench, headed by CJI D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and Manoj Misra, was not inclined to pass any interim stay against the ordinance as well as LG’s decision to terminate over 400 consultants who were appointed by the Delhi government.

The bench said that it will upload the order referring Delhi government’s plea to a Constitution Bench by the end of the day.

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The matter assumes significance as the impugned ordinance of the Centre will be tabled in the ongoing Monsoon session of the Parliament.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Delhi’s AAP government, opposed reference to the Constitution Bench saying that doing so would paralyse the system.

His request to list the Delhi government’s plea before the Constitution Bench commences its scheduled hearing on abrogation of Article 370 was not accepted by the CJI-led bench.

On Monday a three-judge bench headed by CJI Chandrachud had indicated its inclination to refer the questions raised in Delhi government’s plea to a five-judge Constitution Bench. However, the court posted the hearing to Thursday after an adjournment was sought by Singhvi.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing Delhi’s Lt Governor, had argued that a reference to a Constitution Bench is necessary as the earlier judgments of the Supreme Court did not deal with the competence of the Parliament to make law under Article 239AA(7)(a).

Previously, the apex court had issued notice seeking response of the Central Government on Delhi government’s plea. It had also directed that the Lt Governor will also be added as a party in the matter.

The Centre had, on May 19, promulgated the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023, to create a National Capital Civil Service Authority for transfer and posting of Group-A officers in Delhi. The Ordinance was brought after a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had granted control over services in Delhi excluding police, public order, and land to the elected government.

Thereafter, Delhi’s AAP government had moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Ordinance, saying it violates the scheme of federal, democratic governance entrenched for the NCTD in Article 239AA and is manifestly arbitrary, and sought an immediate stay. On May 20, the Centre had also moved the Supreme Court seeking review of the May 11 judgment.

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