NewDelhi: The Arvind Kejriwal government on Tuesday put an unexpected question to the Supreme Court: Has the Constitution of India or any law passed by Parliament declared Delhi as the capital of India ?
Arguing for Delhi government in its effort to carve out specific areas for unhindered exercise of its executive power, senior advocate Indira Jaising told a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan that there was no reference in the Constitution or in any law that Delhi was the capital of India.
“Capital is not defined by any law. Tomorrow, the Centre can decide to move the capital to somewhere else. The Constitution also does not say the capital is to be Delhi. We know that the British moved the capital from Calcutta to Delhi. There is National Capital Territory of Delhi Act but it does not constitute Delhi as the capital of India,” she said. The bench did not comment.
Jaising said the crucial question before the bench was whether there could be two commands over NCT — Delhi government and the Union government. “I am not claiming that Delhi is a state as it has an assembly and a council of ministers headed by the chief minister. But like the executive powers of the states and the Centre are defined and made exclusive, a similar solution needs to be found for Delhi,” she said.
She said there has to be a division of executive power between Centre and Delhi government so as to enable the Kejriwal government to function smoothly unimpeded by the Centre, at least in the field of social welfare subjects like women’s welfare, employment, education, sanitation and healthcare.
The bench said the Constitution provided for three different lists that enumerate the subjects on which the Centre and the states could legislate. “All states have to work in cooperation with the Centre. No legislation indicated vertical division of executive power,” it said.