Challenge to Union’s Ordinance on Control of Delhi’s Administration

Government of NCT of Delhi v Union of India

The Supreme Court will hear a plea challenging the constitutionality of the Union Government's Ordinance which granted control over 'services' in the NCT of Delhi to the Union.



Petitioner: Government of NCT of Delhi

Lawyers: Sr. Adv. A.M. Singhvi, Adv. Shadan Farasat,

Respondent: Union of India

Lawyers: Solicitor General Tushar Mehat

Respondent: Lieutenant Governor, NCTD

Lawyers: Sr. Adv. Harish Salve

Case Details

Case Number: W.P.(C) No. 678/2023

Next Hearing: July 20, 2023

Last Updated: July 21, 2023

Key Issues


Whether the Union’s ordinance violates Article 239AA of the Indian Constitution?


What is the extent to which the Parliament can enact a law under Article 239AA(7)?


Whether the Parliament can make a law under Article 239AA(7) which can indirectly amend the Constitution of India?

Case Description

On May 11th, 2023, a 5-Judge Constitution Bench held that the Delhi government must have the power to control civil servants in the NCT of Delhi. The Bench emphasised the importance of a federal structure of governance, highlighted the NCT’s unique status, and clarified how the Union and Delhi governments will share power in the capital city. The Bench held that without the power to hold Delhi’s civil servants accountable, the Delhi government would not be able to give effect to any law or policy formulated by them. This diminishes the role of Delhi’s voters who hold the Delhi government accountable through political franchise.

The Judgement also clarified that under Art. 239AA, the Delhi Legislature and Executive will both have the power to make law on services in the NCT. The same power is also available to Parliament, which can override the Delhi government, but not to the Union Executive.

Eight days after the SC’s verdict, the Union issued an Ordinance that barred the Delhi government from making laws on services regardless of what ‘any court’ says. Further, it created a 3-member body, called the National Capital Civil Service Authority (the Authority), which will control civil servants in the NCT of Delhi. This Authority will comprise two Union appointees and the Chief Minister of Delhi, and will make all decisions through internal voting. Most notably, the Authority’s decisions must be approved by the Lieutenant Governor who will have the ‘sole discretion’ to override it.

On 26th June, the Government of NCT Delhi filed a Writ Petition before the SC challenging the Ordinance. They argued that the Ordinance violated Article 239AA which guaranteed a sui generis federal scheme of governance for NCT of Delhi. They highlighted that the Ordinance permits the complete takeover of the National Capital by the Union Government, from the elected government in Delhi. 

On July 17, 2023, a 3-Judge Bench led by CJI Chandrachud contemplated referring the case to a Constitution Bench. The Bench will make this decision on July 20, 2023.