An effective democracy demands a strong base, and that base lies in good governance. A nation’s government is ultimately responsible for shaping its future. Changes in administration results in numerous changes including policies, objectives, allies, and interests. Maintaining peace and harmony between the State and Central governments is essential for a democracy like India, which uses a federal model to effectively implement policies, carry out functions smoothly, and uphold the core principles of good governance. Part XI of the Constitution of India deliberates upon the Centre and State relations which include Legislative relations, Administrative relations, Financial relations, etc. which ensures distributing the powers between different governments. But how far is this effective, without any dispute? India is a multi-party system and thus different parties’ government at State and Centre is common in the nation which brings with itself a fierce ideological and political battle, which the country has already witnessed in the past. A recent instance of this is the conflict between the Central Government and the Government of the NCT of Delhi which struggles to maintain trust and faith between both governments. Through the example of the conflict between the Centre and the NCT of Delhi relating to administrative power, this article aims to examine the significance of trust and faith between the Centre and State to ensure the effectiveness of good governance.
GOOD GOVERNANCE: The role of Trust and Faith
Schedule 7 of our Constitution mentions three lists i.e., the Union list, the State list, and the Concurrent list. Centre has the power to make laws on the Union list, State has the power to make laws on the State list and both Centre and State have the power to make laws on the Concurrent list, in case of conflict, the law made by Centre prevails. This conflict is common between the Centre and state where the government at both levels belong to different parties. The change in ideologies is the root cause of the absence of trust and faith between the governments. The classic example is the dispute between the Central government and the Governments of Chhattisgarh and Kerala. These state governments filed a suit against the laws made by the Central government under Article 131 of the Constitution. The tussle between the Chhattisgarh government and the Central government was also seen in the COVID-19 times over vaccines. Overall, the stand of the Congress-government-led states on the issue of Farm laws clearly showed the lack of coordination with the Central government. They were totally against the Farm laws and were ready to pass a bill to nullify the effect of it. With this, the dispute between the Centre and the Government of NCT of Delhi for administrative power cannot be kept aside. An analysis of it will help us understand the role of trust and faith to maintain the virtue of good governance in the state.
The dispute over Administrative services: Govt. of NCT of Delhi v. Union of India
The effect of the 69th Amendment gave Delhi a special status. It inserted into the Constitution Article 239AA which established state legislature and the post of Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, who has to act on the aid or advice of the Council of Ministers (only on the matters which are under the subject of State or Concurrent list) or on the decision of the President. It also provided the state legislature with the power to make laws on any of the matters prescribed except on the subject of police, public order, and land on the other hand it gives Parliament the power to legislate on both, state and concurrent lists as far as Delhi is concerned. This is the complex governance model of the NCT of Delhi. Though it has its legislature but does not have full power as the other legislative assemblies have. The role of LG remains a point of conflict.
In this case, the conflict is for the power of Administrative Services. Both governments are seeking the power of appointments and transfers of bureaucrats. The contention forwarded by the Centre is that Delhi being the National Capital requires control over the administrative services. Whereas the Govt of NCT of Delhi contends that in the interest of federalism, the elected representatives must have control over administration.
The dispute is in continuance since 2017 when the Delhi High Court ruled in the favor of Centre and stated that LG is not bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers for administrative purposes. This was challenged by the Delhi Govt before the Supreme Court and two judgments in the year 2018 and 2019 respectively were again challenged in front of the Constitution bench formed with the Hon’ble CJI Chandrachud. The matter is still pending but the court has pointed out that deliberation on the phrase “in so far as” is required to solve this matter of administrative services tussle.
The value of trust and faith between two governments at different levels is very necessary to peacefully run the administration, but the tussle between the Centre and NCT of Delhi marks a classic example of how this trust and faith often gets destroyed by the presence of different ideologies. The Centre is trying to assert more power over the NCT of Delhi by making Lieutenant Governor more powerful that the elected assembly. The GNCTD (Amendment) Act, 2021 marked this. Article 239AA makes LG the administrator of Delhi but it also confers power to the elected representative of Delhi to make laws for the territory. A total power shift will destroy the virtue of federalism in the state and will render the elected representatives powerless. Many laws and programs that were intended to benefit the public are not executed as they should be because of the lack of coordination between these two governments. A longing dispute also affects the governance of the territory, which is a threat to the peace in the nation. In the present case, the Supreme Court’s Constitution bench holds the view that if all the important decisions of the territory are to rest with the Centre then what use is if the elected government of Delhi? This issue requires both governments to reach a conscience and solve it among themselves. Political debates over the matter will only attract fragile governments and create bigger disputes. Federalism is the core value of our democracy and extreme centralization of decentralization will destroy it. Coordination between the governments is the only way out here.
Author(s) Name: Shagun Shrivastava (Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur)
 India Const., Part XI
 India Const., Schedule 7
 India Const., art 131
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 Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991, Sec. 2
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