The Union government on Monday passed the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. According to the Bill, the "government" in Delhi means the "Lieutenant Governor" and it also makes it mandatory for the Delhi government to take the opinion of the L-G before any executive action.
The ruling Aam Aadmi Party has accused the Union government of encroaching upon the powers of the elected government in Delhi. Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021, has become necessary as there has been ambiguity in certain issues related to the functioning of the Delhi government and several cases were also filed in courts. Critics have said that the amendments limit the elected government’s powers to an extent and enhance the powers of the Lieutenant governor, a charge which has been denied by the ruling BJP.
According to the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill, the original Bill was enacted to supplement the provisions of the Constitution relating to the Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers for Delhi and for matters connected therewith.
It said that the Bill has been brought to give effect to the interpretation made by the Supreme Court which had ruled that the city government need not obtain the Lieutenant Governor's "concurrence" of every issue of day-to-day governance.
"The said Bill will promote harmonious relations between the legislature and the executive, and further define the responsibilities of the elected government and the L-G, in line with the constitutional scheme of governance of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, as interpreted by the Supreme Court," the statement of objects said.
— The following line has been added to Section 21 of the Act, "The expression 'Government' referred to in any law to be made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the Lieutenant Governor."
— Amendments have been made to Section 24 of the 1991 Act which deals with "Assent to Bills," which could potentially extend powers to the Lieutenant Governor.
— Changes have been brought to Section 33 of the 1991 Act in such a way that the Legislative Assembly of Delhi cannot make any rule to enable itself or its committees to consider matters of the day to day administration of Delhi or conduct inquiries in relation to administration.
— A provision has been added to Section 44 of the 1991 Act, which deals with the conduct of business, which makes it compulsory for the government to obtain the opinion of the Lieutenant Governor on all matters, before taking any ‘executive action’.
After the passing of the Bill, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, "Passage of GNCTD Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha today is an insult to the people of Delhi. The Bill effectively takes away powers from those who were voted by people and gives powers to run Delhi to those who were defeated. BJP has cheated the people."
Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann said that the Union government is encroaching upon the powers of an elected state government and thanked the parties who opposed the Bill.
In reply to a debate on the Bill, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, AG Kishan Reddy said, "No murder of democracy is taking place with the amendments in Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill. No right has been taken away from the Delhi government nor any new right has been given to the Lieutenant Governor."
"This amendment only seeks to remove ambiguities in governance and is in line with court judgments and it will enhance accountability," Reddy said.
Participating in the debate, Congress's Manish Tewari said, "The problem with the BJP is that their stand changes on the side they are seated in Parliament.” Tewari pointed out that former Home Minister LK Advani had talked about granting full statehood of Delhi except areas falling under New Delhi.
(With IANS Inputs)