In July 2018, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court emphatically decided that Delhi’s “Lieutenant Governor has not been entrusted with any independent decision-making power” and has to “either act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers or he is bound to implement the decision taken by the President on a reference being made by him.” As it turns out now, the 2018 judgment in the Government of NCT of Delhi v. Union of India was a pyrrhic victory for Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Since assuming the role of the national capital territory’s top executive in 2015, Kejriwal had routinely argued that Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor—nominated by the Centre—prevented his government from performing its day-to-day duties citing ambiguities in the Constitution over the separation of powers between the NCT’s elected head and nominated administrator. Following a three-year-long legal battle, the unanimous apex court judgment had finally brought clarity over the constitutional mandate of Delhi’s Executive, its elected representatives and the L-G. Indeed, the main judgment authored by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra and two concurring judgments authored by Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan had also warned the L-G against being an “obstructionist”.