NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Centre to extend the tenure of the incumbent Chief Secretary of Delhi government Naresh Kumar by six months, holding that this cannot be seen as violative of law.
A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra noted that the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2023, was in force which granted the Centre power to appoint the Chief Secretary of Delhi.
Appearing for the Delhi government, senior advocate A M Singhvi contended that the extension being a unilateral decision would be bypassing established procedures.
He contended that the apex court itself on May 11, 2023 had ruled that the Lieutenant Governor was bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
However, the bench reminded Singhvi that even though the 2023 Act is under challenge, it has not been stayed by the apex court.
“At this stage, bearing in mind, the provisions of the judgment of this court in constitution bench (May 11 judgment of the apex court) and the subsequent developments which have taken place resulting in enactment of the amendment to the GNCTD Act 1991, the decision of the Union government to extend the services of the incumbent chief secretary for a period of six months cannot be constructed to be violative of law of the constitutional distribution of powers between the Union and the government of the NCTD,” the bench said.
“However, we clarify that analysis in this order is confined to prima facie evaluation of the case at the present stage without entering into any conclusive determination of the issues which are pending for adjudication before the constitution bench," the bench added.
On May 11, 2023, a five-judge Constitution bench led by the CJI ruled that it is ideal to hold that a democratically elected Delhi government should have control over its officers and the LG is bound by the advice of the elected government in everything other than public order, police, and land.
The court was hearing a plea by the Delhi government against the Centre extending the tenure of the current Chief Secretary.
The bench noted that the post is entrusted with significant functional responsibilities including overall administrative control and supervision over subjects which also stand excluded from legislative domain and executive powers of GNCTD.
"It would be far fetched to postulate that the central government is divested with the power to appoint Chief Secretary," the bench said, clarifying that this view was based on prima facie evaluation of the matter.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, seeking six months extention of incumbent Chief Secretary, submitted there are as many as 57 instances of extensions being granted to superannuating Chief Secretaries of various States.
Singhvi, on the contrary, said that out of 57 instances highlighted by Mehta, only one involved the Chief Secretary of Delhi, and that too had happened during President's rule.