Delhi assembly speaker says will move SC against provisions of the GNCTD Act
State assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel on Friday said that he, as a representative of the House, will approach the Supreme Court against provisions of the Government of National Capital Territory of India (Amendment) Act which, he said, curtails the powers of the legislative committees that come under the domain of the House.
“We will not challenge the entire Act. The call on whether or not to challenge the entire Act in the court will have to be taken by the government. I cannot comment on that aspect,” Goel said in a press conference in Vidhan Sabha on Friday.
Goel later clarified that he will file the appeal before the top court as a representative of the Assembly.
The Act, which makes the Lieutenant Governor’s (LG) prior opinion a must before every executive action by the Delhi government, and every legislative action by the state assembly, was notified in Delhi on April 27, after being passed in both houses of Parliament the previous month.
While the Aam Aadmi Party and other Opposition parties across the country criticised the law, the Centre said it promotes “harmonious relations between the legislature and the executive, and further defines the responsibilities of the elected government and the Lieutenant Governor, in line with the constitutional scheme of governance of Delhi, as interpreted by the Supreme Court”
Through the amendment, a provision has been added in the original GNCTD Act that prohibits the Assembly or its committees from making rules to take up matters concerning the day-to-day administration of Delhi, or to conduct inquiries in relation to administrative decisions. This has effectively derailed several assembly committees, particularly two that are dealing with issues related to the north-east Delhi riots that happened last year.
Goel on Friday told reporters that the decision to challenge provisions of the Act was taken after the Supreme Court’s favourable verdict in a case involving the assembly committee on peace and harmony examining the role of a social media company in the Delhi riots by refusing to quash summons sent to a top executive of the company.
“We believe the court will restore the powers of the Assembly which have been taken away through a law which is completely undemocratic and unconstitutional. We have taken legal consultations on the matter,” Goel said.
The Supreme Court on July 8 held that Facebook must appear before a Delhi assembly committee to respond to queries regarding its role and other aspects of the February 2020 Delhi riots.
The Act was also the subject of a charged debate in the assembly last week. Leaders of the AAP argued that the law is “unconstitutional” and “anti-democracy”, as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) asserted that the law did not weaken the powers of the Delhi Assembly.
On several occasions in the past four months, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia have said that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Delhi government have plans to challenge the law in the Supreme Court and are taking legal help on the matter.
BJP MLA Vijender Gupta said, “The GNCTD Act does not reduce the power of the Assembly in any way. We fail to understand why the AAP wants to bring up the issue after eight months. Also, no committee of the Delhi Assembly has been nullified. The GNCTD Act asks that rules of the Assembly committees should be in line with rules that apply in the Lok Sabha. The law prohibits interference on day-to-day administrative work.”