[Model Answer] UPSC GSM2: Article 239AA & Lieutenant Governor’s Absolutism Post-SC Judgement

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Majid Hussain
  1. Mock Question for UPSC Mains GS2
  2. Introduction (Origin of Article 239AA)
  3. Body#1: Why accusations of LG’s absolutism / totalitarianism?
  4. Body#2: SC Judgement brought clarity to LG’s role?
  5. Conclusion (welcome the SC judgement)
  6. Mistakes and Self-Assessment Benchmarks (SAB)

Mock Question for UPSC Mains GS2

  • Does Article 239AA provide a room for absolutism to the office of the Lieutenant Governor? Examine in the light of recent judgement of the Supreme Court. 150 words, 10 marks.
  • क्या अनुच्छेद 239एए उप-राज्यपाल के पद को निरंकुशता के लिए अवकाश प्रदान करता है? सर्वोच्च न्यायालय के नवीनतम फैसले के संदर्भ में जांच करें।
  • Relevance to Syllabus? Polity-> Separation of powers between various organs.

Introduction (Origin of Article 239AA)

  • WRONG: the recent judgement of SC has brought clarity between the function of LG and CM. (That’s conclusion)
  • 69th amendment 1991 inserted Article 239AA in the Constitution. It granted Special Status to Delhi among Union Territories (UTs) by providing Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers responsible to such Assembly.
  • Public Order, Police & Land in NCT of Delhi fall within the domain of Union Government.
  • For remaining matters of State List or Concurrent List, will be under the Legislative Assembly. The associated executive functions will be carried out by the Lieutenant Governor (LG) with the aid and advise of the CM and his council of ministers.
  • If there is a difference of opinion between LG and Council of ministers, the matter shall be referred to the President of India.
Article 239AA

दिल्लीमे उप-राज्यपाल और मुख्यमंत्री का छत्तीस का आंकड़ा है.

Body#1: Why accusations of LG’s absolutism / totalitarianism?

  • 2015: AAP Government vs LG Najeeb Jung. Conflict over bureaucratic appointments, including who should be promoted as the chief Secretary of Delhi.
  • AAP government blaming the LG of not clearing the schemes/initiatives/files related to health, education, PDS, transport, etc. and routinely referring every matter to President.
  • AAP Government tried keep the parliamentary Secretaries outside the ambit of the Office of Profit, by passing a bill. LG referred the matter to President, President refused to assent. Consequently, EC disqualified 21 AAP MLAs.

Above points only for your understanding. In exam, just write conflicts over clearing files, schemes, transfer, appointments and promotions.

Body#2: SC Judgement brought clarity to LG’s role?

2018-July, SC ordered that:

  • Delhi cannot be accorded status of a State. LG will be advised by Union government on the matters of public order, police and land.
  • For remaining subjects, L-G has no “independent decision-making power” and has to act on the aid and advice of the elected government. e.g. health, education, PDS, transport, etc.
  • Council of Ministers must keep him informed of all the decisions.
  • But, LG concurrence not required for decisions taken by the Delhi Council of Ministers.
  • When difference of opinion arises on “any matter”, the L-G can’t take a decision or force a decision on the cabinet. He has to refer such matter to the President of India.
  • But, LG should not act in a mechanical manner without applying mind and forwarding every decision of the Council of Ministers to the President of India.
  • In other words, L-G must work “harmoniously” with the ministers and not seek to “resist them every step of the way”.
  • None of this will apply to Puduchhery because it’s governed under Article 239A.

In exam, just compress above judgement around the points that police, land, public order under union, and for rest matters LG should act according to ministers’ advice without referring every matter to President in a mechanical manner.

Conclusion (welcome the SC judgement)

  • Thus, recent judgement of Supreme Court has reinstated the balance between authority and responsibility of the Lieutenant Governor and minimised his absolutism. OR
  • For Delhi’s development, the harmonious / coordination relations between LG and CM is necessary. SC has done a laudable job by clearing the ambiguity surrounding the Article 239AA. OR
  • (For 250 words Ans.) In the parliamentary form of democracy, CM is the real-executive / de-facto executive of the state. At the same time, given the special issues associated with Delhi (such as Capital of India, Seat of Union Executive, National Security etc.) it’s not desirable to treat it like rest of the states. SC judgment has upheld the federal scheme and spirit of the Constitution, while balancing the practicalities associated with governing the state and governing the country from Delhi. OR

Mistakes and Self-Assessment Benchmarks (SAB)

Parameter Marks Benchmarks
Introduction and Conclusion 0-1-2
  • +2 marks if introduction talks about origin of the article or origin of the conflict between LG and CM, while conclusion welcomes the judgement.
Body 0 to 4 marks
  • 0 marks if only bolbachhan about LG and CM must work harmoniously, without touching the keywords “aid and advice”, “refer to president”, “land, police, public order”.
Logical structure -1 to 0
  • (1) if suggesting that Delhi must be upgraded to a full “state”, and land, police, public order should be handed to democratically elected government, and instead of LG there should be a full-fledged governor. Your suggestions are not asked in this question.
Concise expression -1 to 0
  • N/A
Language -1 to 0
  • If appearing in vernacular language, and still writing लेफ्टिनेंट गवर्नर, instead of उपराज्यपाल
Total Marks out of 10 0 to 6
  • After adding / subtracting above parts, don’t give yourself less than zero and not more than six marks.

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One Comment on “[Model Answer] UPSC GSM2: Article 239AA & Lieutenant Governor’s Absolutism Post-SC Judgement”

  1. Hatsoff to the new ‘Mistakes and Self-Assessment Benchmarks’ Section
    Thanks a lot Mrunal Sir for the effirts

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