SC quashes powers to Lt Governor as "unconstitutional"

The apex court said the Lt Governor a Constitutional authority with executive role cannot sit over the judgements passed by a quasi-judicial authority like the tribunal as it was unconstitutional and against the rule of law.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly passed the ruling while upholding the appeal filed by Amrik Singh Lyallpuri challenging a Delhi High Court judgement which took a contrary view.

The main question raised in the appeal was the constitutional validity of Section 347 D of Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957.

Singh contended appeals against orders of the Appellate Tribunal set up to hear and dispose of matters from orders passed by the Zonal Engineer (Buildings) of the respective zones of MCD and NDMC cannot be decided by the Lt Governor as provided by Section 347D.

It was that orders of the Appellate Authority, which is manned by a judge of the civil court, cannot be heard by an executive authority, however high such executive authority may be.

The Centre defended the Section saying the Lt Governor has no connection with the state and is totally independent. Therefore, when he hears the appeal, he does it as an independent appellate authority.

"This court is unable to accept the aforesaid contention. It is not suggested for a moment that the Administrator, who is the Lieutenant Governor in Delhi, is not acting independently. The question is: having regard to the concept of rule of law and judicial review, whether a review by an executive authority of a decision taken by the judicial or quasi-judicial authority, which has the trappings of the court, is permissible.

"We are unable to uphold the constitutional validity of Section 347D of Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 and Section 256 of the NDMC Act. Both the aforesaid provisions are, therefore, declared unconstitutional being violative of Article 14 (Equality) of the Constitution," Justice Ganguly writing the judgement said.

The apex court said till a proper judicial authority is set up under the DMC Acts, the appeals to the Administrator under Section 347D of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 and also under Section 256 of the NDMC Act shall lie to the district judge, Delhi.

"All pending appeals filed under the erstwhile provisions, as aforesaid, shall stand transferred to the court of the district judge, Delhi. However, the decisions which have already been arrived at by the Administrator under the aforesaid two provisions will not be reopened in view of the principles of prospective overruling," the bench said.

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