Parliament session: Centre introduces Bill to give more powers to Delhi L-G
The ministry of home affairs on Monday introduced in Lok Sabha a controversial Bill that gives overarching powers to the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) of Delhi in day-to-day functioning of the national Capital, a move which is set to revive the tussle between Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government and the Centre.
According to the Bill, Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, the “government” in Delhi would mean L-G in context of all legislations to be passed by the state assembly. The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill said this is in consistency with the status of Delhi as a Union Territory to address the ambiguities in the interpretation of the legislative provisions.
The Bill makes it mandatory for the Delhi government to take the opinion of the L-G before any executive action in the city.
It also bars Delhi government from making any rule to enable itself or its committees to consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the Capital or conduct inquiries in relation to the administrative decisions. Any rule made till this Act comes into effect will be void, according to the Bill.
It further says that the Delhi assembly won’t be able to make rules for regulating, its procedure and the conduct of its business which are inconsistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Parliament of India.
The Supreme Court had, on July 4, 2018, ruled that the L-G cannot interfere in every decision of the Delhi government and that he must act on aid and advice of the council of ministers.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of seeking to drastically curtail the powers of an elected government in Delhi, which he added was contrary to the judgement by a constitution bench of the SC.
He tweeted, “After being rejected by ppl of Delhi (8 seats in Assembly, 0 in MCD bypolls), BJP seeks to drastically curtail powers of elected government through a Bill in LS today. Bill is contrary to Constitution Bench judgement. We strongly condemn BJP’s unconstitutional n anti-democracy move.”
“The Bill says- 1. For Delhi, “Govt” will mean L-G Then what will elected govt do? … 2. All files will go to L-G. This is against 4.7.18 Constitution Bench judgement which said that files will not be sent to L-G, elected govt will take all decisions and send copy of decision to L-G,” he said in another tweet,” Kejriwal said in another tweet.
The new NCT Bill, according to the Centre, seeks to clarify the expression of government in order to give effect to the interpretation made by the Supreme Court.
“The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 (1of 1992) was enacted to supplement the provisions of the Constitution relating to the Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers for the National Capital Territory of Delhi and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Section 44 of the Act deals with conduct of business and there is no structural mechanism provided in the act for effective time bound implementation of said section. Further, there is no clarity as to what proposal or matters are required to be submitted to Lieutenant Governor before issuing order thereon,” the statement of objects and reasons stated.
“It further seeks to ensure that the L-G is necessarily granted an opportunity to exercise the power entrusted to him under proviso to clause (4) of article 239AA of the Constitution, in select category of cases and also to make rules in matters which incidentally encroach upon matters falling outside the preview of the Legislative Assembly. It also seeks to provide for rules made by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi to be consistent with the rules of the House of the People,” it added.
The Bill, the statement added, will “promote harmonious relations between the legislature and the executive, and further define the responsibilities of the elected government and the Lieutenant Governor, in line with the constitutional scheme of governance of NCT of Delhi, as interpreted by the Supreme Court.”