Union Territories have their identity, says SC [Polity]
- At a time when the Arvind Kejriwal government has sought clarity over the ratio of power between his Cabinet and the Centre in administering the national capital, the Supreme Court has observed that Union Territories, though Centrally administered, enjoy an independent identity.
- The administration of Union Territories is by the Central government but that does not mean the Union Territories become merged with the Central government. They are centrally administered but retain their independent entity.
- The apex court was interpreting Section 119 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, which exempts properties of the Union from taxation.
- The judgment expressed doubts as to whether properties of a Union Territory can be treated as the assets of the Centre.
- Delhi High Court had recently, cleared the air that Delhi is a Union Territory with the Lieutenant Governor as its administrator, and not a state. The High Court had trimmed the Kejriwal Cabinet’s girth by quashing several notifications issued by it without consulting Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.
- The court did all this by dismissing the Delhi government’s argument that the AAP-Centre tussle was a ‘classic’ federal dispute.
- The dispute between the AAP and the Centre was a federal dispute over the interpretation of Article 239AA (a special provision for the administration of Delhi and the separation of legislative and executive powers between the Centre and the State) in the Constitution.