Constitutional Morality : Government of NCT of Delhi Vs. Union of India

Constitution of India, 1950 – Arts. 239, 239A & 239AA - Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 - Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993 - Interpretation of - Ideals / Principles of Representative Governance - Constitutional morality - Constitutional objectivity - Constitutional Governance and the Conception of Legitimate Constitutional Trust - Collective Responsibility - Federal Functionalism and Democracy - Collaborative Federalism - Pragmatic Federalism - Concept of Federal Balance - Interpretation of the Constitution - Purposive interpretation - Constitutional Culture and Pragmatism - Interpretation of Article of the Constitution - Status of NCT of Delhi - Executive power of the Council of Ministers of Delhi - Essence of Article 239AA of the Constitution - Constitutional Renaissance.
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

(Dipak Misra, CJI) (A.K. Sikri, J.) (A.M. Khanwilkar, J.) (Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J.) (Ashok Bhushan, J.)

July 04, 2018
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2357 OF 2017
Government of NCT of Delhi … Appellant
Versus
Union of India & Another … Respondents
WITH
CONTEMPT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 175 OF 2016 IN WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 539 OF 1986 CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2358 OF 2017 CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2359 OF 2017 CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2360 OF 2017 CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2361 OF 2017 CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2362 OF 2017 CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2363 OF 2017 CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2364 OF 2017 AND CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 277 OF 2017
J U D G M E N T
Dipak Misra, CJI (for himself, A.K. Sikri and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ.) 
CONTENTS
A. Prologue
B. Rivalised Submissions
B.1 Submissions on behalf of the appellant 
B.2 Submissions on behalf of the respondents 
C. Ideals/principles of representative governance
D. Constitutional morality:
57. Constitutional morality in its strictest sense of the term implies strict and complete adherence to the constitutional principles as enshrined in various segments of the document. When a country is endowed with a Constitution, there is an accompanying promise which stipulates that every member of the country right from its citizens to the high constitutional functionaries must idolize the constitutional fundamentals. This duty imposed by the Constitution stems from the fact that the Constitution is the indispensable foundational base that functions as the guiding force to protect and ensure that the democratic setup promised to the citizenry remains unperturbed. The constitutional functionaries owe a greater degree of responsibility towards this eloquent instrument for it is from this document that they derive their power and authority and, as a natural corollary, they must ensure that they cultivate and develop a spirit of constitutionalism where every action taken by them is governed by and is in strict conformity with the basic tenets of the Constitution.


58. In this context, the observations made by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar are of great significance:
“Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realize that our people are yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a topdressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic.”
Constituent Assembly Debates 1989: VII, 38.
59. Constitutional morality is that fulcrum which acts as an essential check upon the high functionaries and citizens alike, as experience has shown that unbridled power without any checks and balances would result in a despotic and tyrannical situation which is antithetical to the very idea of democracy. The following passage from Manoj Narula v. Union of India(2014) 9 SCC 1 can aptly be quoted to throw some light on the idea:
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
James Madison as Publius, Federalist 51 
60. In the said case, it has been further observed:
“Regard being had to the aforesaid concept, it would not be out of place to state that institutional respectability and adoption of precautions for the sustenance of constitutional values would include reverence for the constitutional structure. It is always profitable to remember the famous line of Laurence H. Tribe that a Constitution is “written in blood, rather than ink”
Laurence H. Tribe, THE INVISIBLE CONSTITUTION 29 (2008)”,
61. Constitutional morality acts as a check against lapses on the part of the governmental agencies and colourable activities aimed at affecting the democratic nature of polity. In Krishnamoorthy v. Sivakumar and others(2015) 3 SCC 467 it has been explained thus:
“Democracy, which has been best defined as the government of the people, by the people and for the people, expects prevalence of genuine orderliness, positive propriety, dedicated discipline and sanguine sanctity by constant affirmance of constitutional morality which is the pillar stone of good governance.” 
Constitutional morality, appositely understood, means the morality that has inherent elements in the constitutional norms and the conscience of the Constitution. Any act to garner justification must possess the potentiality to be in harmony with the constitutional impulse. We may give an example. When one is expressing an idea of generosity, he may not be meeting the standard of justness. There may be an element of condescension. But when one shows justness in action, there is no feeling of any grant or generosity. That will come within the normative value. That is the test of constitutional justness which falls within the sweep of constitutional morality. It advocates the principle of constitutional justness without subjective exposition of generosity.


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