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Delhi - L-G's role redefined (25 March 2021)

Delhi - L-G's role redefined (25 March 2021)

Context:

  • The Parliament passed the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, with the Rajya Sabha clearing it recently.

Background:

  • The Upper House passed the bill with an 83-45 vote, following several hours of heated debate and walkout by several parties, including the Congress, BJD, YSRCP and Samajwadi party.

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991.

  • The government of NCT Delhi came into existence by constitutional amendment by the Parliament in 1991. So, Parliament has the power to pass the amendment and make changes in the structure or the governance of the Delhi.

  • Article 239AA (4) gives power to the LG to reserve any bill for the consideration of the President if there is any difference of opinion with respect to subjects which do not fall in the domain of the Legislative Assembly.

Summary of the Debate

Key highlights of the Bill:

  • It provides that the term government referred to in any law made by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi will imply the Lieutenant Governor (LG).

  • It also prohibits the Legislative Assembly of Delhi from making any rule to enable itself or its Committees to consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

  • The opinion of the LG of Delhi shall be obtained before the Delhi Cabinet takes any form of executive action.

  • The bill gives power to the LG to make rules in matters that fall outside the purview of the elected government in Delhi.

  • The new bill also makes an amendment to Section 33 of the 1991 act which dealt with the rules of procedure.

Why this process was taken up?

  • This process was taken up because of the 2019 judgment where the Supreme Court observed that there are ambiguity and certain clarification are required.

  • Delhi has a peculiar history because it is the headquarter of the central government.

  • In 2014, a matter went to the Supreme Court which was referred to the constitutional bench and constitutional bench was required to interpret Article 239AA with regard to the power of the LG, the government of NCT of Delhi and the Central Government.

  • At that time, Anti- corruption branch of Delhi government issued a notice and started investigation against some of the central government officers and Ministers.

  • The Home Ministry clarified the position that Delhi being Union Territory and 3 subjects having been reserved to central government that is the public order, police and the land, it is the central government which has got control over all these and Delhi government cannot issue any order in this regard.

  • When Delhi government went to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court interpreted a law given under Article 239AA under which the Legislative Assembly has been constituted and parallely the NCT of Delhi Act 1991 was passed.

  • While clarifying the law, the Supreme Court said that there is a Council of Misiters to aid and advise the LG and the LG is bound by the advise of the Council of Misiters. Also pre consultation with the LG was not necessary and the LG is only to be informed.

  • The decision given by the constitution bench but the petition was not disposed off by the constitution bench, it was referred back to the 2 judges’ bench which in 2019 gave certain interpretation and 2 judges differed and the matter is still pending before the Supreme Court.

  • By way of interpreting the judgment of the Supreme Court which is yet to acquire finality, the LG has been given the more power by the central government as compared to an elected government.

Conclusion:

  • The 2019 judgment Supreme Court said that both the parties maintain peace and work together in mutual respect and that is what is absolutely necessary. Delhi being unique place, both the government does not have to confront each other, they have to work closely and if there are any differences they have to sorted out.

Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act (GNCTD), 1991

  • The current status of Delhi as the UT with a Legislative Assembly is because of the GNCTAD Act, 1991.

  • Articles 239AA and 239BB were introduced through the 69th Constitutional Amendment Act in 1991.

  • The GNCTD Act was passed simultaneously to supplement the constitutional provisions relating to the Assembly and the Council of Ministers in the national capital.

  • That’s when Delhi was named as the National Capital Region (NCT) of Delhi.

  • As per this article – Public Order, Police & Land in NCT of Delhi fall within the domain and control of Central Government which shall have the power to make laws on these matters.

  • For remaining matters of State List or Concurrent List, in so far as any such matter is applicable to UTs, the Legislative Assembly shall have the power to make laws for NCT of Delhi.

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