July 4, 2018

Constitutional Renaissance : Landmark Supreme Court of India Judgment

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
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.) 
271. Before we proceed to record our conclusions, we think it apposite to reflect on a concept that illumines the basic tenet of constitutional governance having requisite veneration for constitutional philosophy and its applicability in the present context.


272. Though ordinarily the term ‘renaissance’ is used in the context of renewed activity especially pertaining to art and literature, yet the said word is not alien to the fundamental meaning of life in a solid civilized society that is well cultivated in culture. And, life, as history witnesses, gets entrenched in elevated civilization when there is fair, appropriate, just and societal interest oriented governance. In such a situation, no citizen feels like a subject and instead has the satisfaction that he is a constituent of the sovereign. When the citizens feel that there is participatory governance in accordance with the constitutionally envisaged one, there is prevalence of constitutional governance.
273. This prevalence is the recognition and acceptance of constitutional expectation from the functionaries created by it. It is to remain in a constant awakening as regards the text, context, perspective, purpose and the rule of law. Adherence to rationality, reverence for expected pragmatic approach on the bedrock of the constitutional text, context and vision and constant reflection on the valid exercise of the power vested tantamounts to resurgent constitutionalism. It may be understood in a different manner. Our Constitution is a constructive one. There is no room for absolutism. There is no space for anarchy. Sometimes it is argued, though in a different context, that one can be a “rational anarchist”, but the said term has no entry in the field of constitutional governance and rule of law. Fulfillment of constitutional idealism ostracizing anything that is not permissible by the language of the provisions of the Constitution and showing veneration to its spirit and silence with a sense of reawakening to the vision of the great living document is, in fact, constitutional renaissance.
274. Let us come to the present context and elaborate the concept. The said concept garners strength when there is rational difference by the Lieutenant Governor on a constitutional prism, any statutory warrant, executive disharmony between the Centre and NCT of Delhi on real justifiable grounds, when an executive decision runs counter to the legislative competence and the decision of the Council of Ministers defeats the national interest. These are only a few illustrations. The Constitution does not state the nature of the difference. It leaves it to the wisdom of the Council of Ministers who have the collective responsibility and the Lieutenant Governor. That is the constitutional trust which expects the functionaries under the Constitution to be guided by constitutional morality, objective pragmatism and the balance that is required to sustain proper administration. The idea of obstinance is not a principle of welfare administration. The constitutional principles do not countenance a nomadic perception. They actually expect governance for the betterment of society, healthy relationship and mutual respect having an open mind for acceptance.


275. The goal is to avoid any disharmony and anarchy. Sustenance of constitutionally conferred trust, recognition and acceptance of the principle of constitutional governance, adherence to the principles and norms which we have discussed earlier and the constitutional conduct having regard to the elevated guiding precepts stated in the Preamble will tantamount to realization of the feeling of constitutional renaissance. When we say renaissance, we do not mean revival of any classical note with a sense of nostalgia but true blossoming of the constitutional ideals, realization and acceptance of constitutional responsibility within the boundaries of expression and silences and sincerely accepting the summon to be obeisant to the constitutional conscience with a sense of reawakening to the constitutional vision.
276. That is why, the 1991 Act and the TBR, 1993 conceive of discussion, deliberation and dialogue. The exercise of entitlement to differ has to be based on principle and supported by cogent reasons. But, the primary effort has to be to arrive at a solution. That is the constitutional conduct of a constitutional functionary.
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