The central government is unlikely to release additional funds to the municipal corporations of Delhi "at this stage" in view of the current statutory provisions and overall fiscal resources, officials said Tuesday.
This comes a day after the Supreme Court said it was "unfortunate and tragic" that the Centre was not prepared to "make any payment at all" to resolve the crisis arising out of the strike by sanitation workers of East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) over the demand for regular payment of salaries.
A Home Ministry official cited the "failure" of the Arvind Kejriwal Government to implement the report of 4th Delhi Finance Commission (DFC) relating to allocation of funds by the Delhi government to the city's five local bodies including EDMC.
The 4th DFC, which submitted its report in 2013, had recommended additional funding of Rs 1,220 crore to the three municipal bodies -- East, West and South Delhi -- from the Delhi government, of which the majority share of Rs 1,140 crore was to go to EDMC.
The Delhi government has been funding the municipal corporations as per the award of the 3rd DFC, even though the report of 5th DFC, constituted during Kejriwal's tenure, was submitted in October 2017, the official said.
Further, as per terms of the DFC, its mandate is to recommend principles to govern distribution of net proceeds of taxes and duties leviable by the Delhi government among the Delhi government and the three municipal corporations, New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Cantonment Board.
The DFC has no mandate which has a bearing on the government of India, the official said.
The Delhi High Court had in its order dated April 16, 2018, upheld the central government's contention that the DFC cast no obligation on it, while directing that "in terms of recommendations of 4th DFC, the National Capital Territory of Delhi (government) shall forthwith release all amounts payable to EDMC and North Delhi municipal corporation with w.e.f November 1, 2017,...to enable payment of salaries, funds and financial benefits to the employees".
Later the HC reiterated this direction on May 21, 2018.
The Delhi government, however, appealed against this order of the Delhi High Court on the grounds that it could not implement the recommendations of 4th DFC unless the central government fulfilled certain other recommendations.
The Centre thereafter filed an affidavit before a bench of the Supreme Court comprising justices Madan Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta in a separate matter relating to dengue deaths in Delhi, merely citing the statutory provisions that the funds to local bodies of Delhi have to be transferred by the Delhi government, for which the recommendations of the 4th DFC have to be implemented.
On October 5, the Centre further conveyed through Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh that while the central government did release grants for local bodies as per recommendations of the Central Finance Commission, the award of the Central Finance Commission was only for the states and not for Union Territories like Delhi.
The budgetary allocation for Union Territories was done as for other schemes of the central government, by considering overall resources and fiscal space.
Another official said the Delhi government had been allocated Rs 790 crore as central assistance for the current fiscal, which includes Rs 325 crore already released as grant in lieu of share in central taxes and duties. The remaining amount will be released in instalments.
There is a statutory procedure for increasing the budgetary allocation to Delhi government, and must involve the Union Finance Ministry. However, in view of the current statutory provisions and overall fiscal resources, the central government is not in a position to release funds at this stage to the city government, the official said.
The central government, which is now required to file an affidavit on the issue before two separate benches of the Supreme Court by October 22 and October 24, is expected to file identical affidavits repeating the aforesaid arguments and expressing its inability to offer further funds to the Delhi government.
Yesterday, a bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta noted that the court had expected the Centre to "graciously reciprocate" to the offer of the Delhi government which agreed to release Rs 500 crore to civic bodies on humanitarian grounds.
"Unfortunately and tragically, the central government has now filed an affidavit that it is not prepared to make any payment at all," the bench said.
It noted in its order that on October 3, the Delhi government had submitted in the court that for tiding over the sanitation crisis, an amount of Rs 500 crore would be released by them within two days without prejudice to their rights and contentions.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)