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power to appoint aldermen/L-G can destabilise MCD, says SC

The article highlights the Supreme Court’s concerns over the power of the L-G‘s power to appoint aldermen in the MCD and the potential destabilization of the democratically-elected local body. The court acknowledged the distinction between the L-G’s powers and his role as an Administrator. (The Hindu 18th May , 2023)

What is the Context?

In a recent verdict, the Supreme Court expressed concerns over the LG’s power to appoint aldermen to appoint aldermen to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). It emphasized that such authority could potentially undermine the stability of a democratically-elected local body. Aam Aadmi Party filed a petition challenging notifications granting L-G discretionary powers to appoint 10 aldermen to MCD. Three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, heard the issue.

Deviation from Past Practice:

Representing the petitioner, senior advocate A.M. Singhvi argued that these notifications deviated from the established practice followed for the past 30 years. He underscored that historically, the L-G never appointed aldermen without the aid and advice of the Ministers.

L-G’s Role in Aldermen Appointments:

On the other hand, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the L-G, contended that there was a clear distinction between the L-G’s powers under Article 239AA of the Constitution and his role as an Administrator of the national capital. He maintained that the law granted the L-G an active role in the nomination of aldermen. However, the court acknowledged the potential risk of destabilizing the democratically-elected MCD, considering that the aldermen hold voting power.

L-G’s Limited Executive Powers:
  • Clarifying the extent of the L-G’s executive powers, the Supreme Court stated that the L-G lacks sweeping authority in the national capital, which operates under an “asymmetric federal model.”
  • The L-G can exercise discretion in public order, police, and land matters as outlined in Article 239AA(3)(a).
  • In case of disagreements with the Council of Ministers, the L-G is required to adhere to the Transaction of Business Rules.
Conclusion and Future Implications:

The concerns raised by the Supreme Court regarding the L-G’s authority to appoint aldermen underscore the potential risk of destabilizing a democratically-elected body. To ensure effective governance, it is essential to strike a balance between the powers of various stakeholders. The court’s decision will depend on an examination of legal provisions and past practices, shaping the future course of action.

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