“How To Rule Delhi”

In ruling that the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi has no independent decision-making power, and has to act mainly on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, the Supreme Court has restored the primary role played by the “representative government” in the National Capital Territory. Though seen as a Union Territory, Delhi was created as a separate category, with an elected Assembly with powers to enact laws in all matters falling under the State and Concurrent lists, with the exception of public order, police and land. This gave it a status higher than other UTs. The demand for full statehood has been around for many years now, but after the Aam Aadmi Party came to power the constitutional tussle between the two tiers of government has become an acrimonious battle between AAP and the BJP at the Centre. Until now, the situation was tilted in favour of the Centre because of the Lt. Governor’s claim that he had the authority to refer any matter to the President. The proviso that allowed him to make such a reference was used to block major decisions of the AAP regime. The Delhi High Court agreed with this two years ago, giving the impression that administrative decisions needed the Lt. Governor’s concurrence. In a judgment that essentially reaffirms the constitutional position, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Lt. Governor has to ordinarily act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. At the same time, it has retained the Lt. Governor’s powers to refer matters to the President for a decision. However — and this is the nub of the judgment — it has significantly circumscribed this power. The power to refer “any matter” to the President no longer means “every matter”. Further, there is no requirement of the Lt. Governor’s concurrence for any proposal. The ‘reference’ clause may give rise to conflict even now. However, the court has significantly limited its potential for mischief. It has not given an exhaustive list of matters that can be referred, but Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, in a separate but concurring opinion, has indicated that it could “encompass substantial issues of finance and policy which impact upon the status of the national capital or implicate vital interests of the Union.” Every trivial difference of opinion will not fall under the proviso. Overall, the verdict is an appeal to a sense of constitutional morality and constitutional trust among high functionaries. It has ruled out Mr. Kejriwal’s demand of full statehood, and the critical powers — over police, land and public order — still remain vested with the Centre. However, the court having stressed that the elected government is the main authority in Delhi’s administration, the controversies over the arbitrary withholding of Cabinet decisions may end, or at least diminish. The basic message is that an elected government cannot be undermined by an unelected administrator. The larger one is that the Union and its units should embrace a collaborative federal architecture for co-existence and inter-dependence.


1) Enact

Meaning: Make (a bill or other proposal) law.

Example: “legislation was enacted to attract international companies”

Synonyms: Pass, Approve

Antonyms: Repeal

2) Statehood

Meaning: The status of being a recognized independent nation.

Example: “their aspirations for independent statehood have been consistently frustrated”

3) Tussle

Meaning: A vigorous struggle or scuffle, typically in order to obtain or achieve something.

Example: “there was a tussle for the ball”

Synonyms: Scuffle, Struggle

4) Acrimonious

Meaning: (typically of speech or discussion) angry and bitter.

Example: “an acrimonious dispute about wages”

Synonyms: Bitter, Caustic

5) Tilted

Meaning: Change or cause to change in favour of one person or thing as opposed to another.

Example: “the balance of industrial power tilted towards the workers”

6) Proviso

Meaning: A condition or qualification attached to an agreement or statement.

Example: “he let his house with the proviso that his own staff should remain to run it”

Synonyms: Condition, Stipulation

7) Impression

Meaning: An idea, feeling, or opinion about something or someone, especially one formed without conscious thought or on the basis of little evidence.

Example: “his first impressions of Manchester were very positive”

Synonyms: Apprehension, Intuition

8) Concurrence

Meaning: Agreement or consistency.

Example: “delays can be avoided by arriving at political concurrence at the start”

9) Reaffirms

Meaning: State again strongly.

Example: “the prime minister reaffirmed his commitment to the agreement”

10) Retained

Meaning: Continue to have (something); keep possession of.

Example: “Labour retained the seat”

Synonyms: Keep, Maintain

Antonyms: Lose, Abolish

11) Nub

Meaning: The crux or central point of a matter.

Example: “the nub of the problem lies elsewhere”

12) Circumscribed

Meaning: Restrict (something) within limits.

Example: “the minister’s powers are circumscribed both by tradition and the organization of local government”

Synonyms: Restrict, Limit

13) Conflict

Meaning: A prolonged armed struggle.

Example: “regional conflicts”

Synonyms: Dispute, Squabble

Antonyms: Agreement

14) Exhaustive

Meaning: Including or considering all elements or aspects; fully comprehensive.

Example: “the guide outlines every bus route in exhaustive detail”

Synonyms: Comprehensive, Complete

Antonyms: Perfunctory, Incomplete

15) Encompass

Meaning: Include comprehensively.

Example: “no studies encompass all sectors of medical care”

Synonyms: Cover, Embrace

16) Implicate

Meaning: Bear some of the responsibility for (an action or process, especially a criminal or harmful one).

Example: “viruses are known to be implicated in the development of certain cancers”

17) Trivial

Meaning: Of little value or importance.

Example: “huge fines were imposed for trivial offences”

Synonyms: Unimportant, Insignificant

Antonyms: Important, Significant

18) Vested

Meaning: Confer or bestow (power, authority, property, etc.) on someone.

Example: “executive power is vested in the President”

19) Withholding

Meaning: Refuse to give (something that is due to or is desired by another).

Example: “the name of the dead man is being withheld”

Synonyms: Stop, Retain

20) Diminish

Meaning: Make or become less.

Example: “the new law is expected to diminish the government’s chances”

Synonyms: Decrease, Decline

Antonyms: Increase

21) Undermined

Meaning: Lessen the effectiveness, power, or ability of, especially gradually or insidiously.

Example: “this could undermine years of hard work”

Synonyms: Impede, Threaten

Antonyms: Enhance, Improve

22) Embrace

Meaning: Include or contain (something) as a constituent part.

Example: “his career embraces a number of activities—composing, playing, and acting”

Synonyms: Include, Involve

Antonyms: Exclude