Special Status of Delhi

Government of NCT of Delhi v Union of India

The Court judged that the Chief Minister and not the Lieutenant Governor (LG) is the executive head of the National Capital Territory (NCT) government. Hence, the LG is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers on all matters where the Delhi Assembly has to the power to make laws.



Petitioner: Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi

Lawyers: Mr. P. Chidambaram; Mr. Gopal Subramaniam; Mr. Satya Mitra; Ms. Indira Jaising; Dr. Rajeev Dhawan; Mr. Shekhar Naphade

Respondent: Union of India

Lawyers: Mr. Maninder Singh; Mr. Siddharth Luthra

Case Details

Case Number: CA 2357/2017

Next Hearing:

Last Updated: June 1, 2022

Key Issues


Should Delhi be treated like a Union Territory with the Lt. Governor as its administrative head or as a Special State where the Lt. Governor is bound by the advice of the Chief Minister?

Case Description

On 4th July 2018, the five-judge Bench unanimously held that the Chief Minister is the executive head of the NCT::

The tussle between  the Chief Minister of Delhi, and Lt. Governor of Delhi eventually led to a legal controversy on the status of the NCT (National Capital Territory). The issue revolves around the administrative powers of the Lt. Governor of Delhi in light of the special status of Delhi as a Union Territory.

The issues raised in this case was previously heard by the Delhi High Court in 2015 because of a series of run-ins between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Ret’d Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung over matters such as the appointment of a Chief Secretary without consulting the Lt. Governor and the Chief Minister instituting corruption enquiries without the Lt. Governor’s concurrence.

The confusion arose due to the special nature of Delhi which is a Union Territory with the features of a State, such as having an elected legislature. The 69th Amendment to the Constitution in 1992 added Article 239AA, which mandated an elected Assembly for Delhi. The special provisions added through the 69th Amendment created confusion with respect to the jurisdiction of the Delhi Government vis-a-vis the Centre.

The Delhi High Court in its judgment delivered on 4th August 2016 held that Delhi continues to be a Union Territory despite Article 239AA.  It further held that the special provisions incorporated for Delhi do not overrule the effect of Article 239. Article 239 empowers the Lieutenant Governor to act independently of his Council of Ministers. As a result, all enquiries which were initiated by the Delhi Government without the concurrence of Lt. Governor were declared illegal, such as the enquiries into the issuance of CNG permit to vehicles, a financial enquiry into Delhi and District Cricket Association, among others. The concurrence of the Lt Governor became mandatory for all administrative decisions of Council of Ministers of Delhi.

The Delhi Government challenged this decision of the Delhi High Court before the Supreme Court. On February 2017, the two-judge Bench hearing the matter, referred it to a five-judge Constitution Bench.

On 4th July 2018, the Constitution Bench ruled that the Lt. Governor is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.