Delhi's Federalism Under Control

The Centre has introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021, reviving the dispute on the distribution of the power between the elected government and Lieutenant Governor (LG). The issue, which was at the heart of ruling party AAP and frequent clash with the BJP led Centre during of its first term. The dispute was taken up by the Constitution bench of Supreme Court, which tilted the scales in the favor of the elected government through its 4 July 2018 verdict.

The Bill has been criticized by the ruling Aam Aadmi  Party in Delhi as an attempt to curtail the power of the elected government. Taking to Twitter, Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal said the Bill, which '' seeks to drastically curtail powers of elected government '', is '' against the Supreme Court judgement. Meanwhile, experts have cautioned that the amendment could face constitutional and legal hurdles as it collides with various power of the Delhi assembly committees.

    The key Points of the Amendment:

1. Government to mean "Lieutenant Governor (LG) : The expression 'Government' referred to in any law to be made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the Lieutenant Governor (LG).

2. Widening of Discretionary Power of LG: The bill gives discretionary powers to the LG even in the matters where the Legislative assembly of Delhi is empowered to make Laws.

3.Necessarily granted an Opportunity to LG: It seeks to ensure that the LG is 'necessarily granted opportunity' to give her/his opinion before any decision taken by the Council of Ministers ( or the Delhi Cabinet) is implemented.

4. Related to the Administrative Decisions :The amendment also says that the 'legislative assembly shall not make any rule to enable itself to consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the Capital or Conduct inquiries in relation to the Administrative Decisions 

 Background of the Bill—

     In it's 2018 verdict, the Supreme Court's five - judge bench had held that the LGs concurrence is not required on issues other than police, public order and land.

  SC had added that the decisions of the Council of Ministers will, however, have to be       communicated to the LG.

     The LG was bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers.

    The Court also said that the Status of LG of Delhi is not that of a Governor of a State, rather he remains an Administrator, in a limited sense, working with the designation of Lieutenant Governor.

       It had also pointed out that the elected government must keep in mind that Delhi is not a Full State.

 Encouraged by the Supreme Court verdict, the elected government had stopped sending files on executive matters to the LG before the implementation of any decision.

 Delhi Government has been keeping the LG informed of all administrative development, but not necessarily before implementing or executing any decision. But the new amendment, will force the elected government to take LGs advice before taking any action or making any cabinet decision

 How is Delhi is Currently administered?

Delhi is a Union Territory with a Legislature Assembly and it came into being in 1991 under 239AA of the Constitution inserted by the Constitution ( Sixty-ninty Amendment) Act 1991. As per the existing Act, the Legislative Assembly has the power to make Laws in all the matters except public order, police and land

What the State Governments Fears?

        From 2015 to 2018, the government was engaged in a constant battle with the Centre over policy decision and the powers of the LG with the elected government.

  The SC judgement gave the Delhi Government a free hand in terms of policy making but this bill will nullify the SCs judgement.

     The Government insider's have maintained that it was because of the judgement that the government was able clear Decisions like giving free power to those using under 200 units, free bus rides for women.

   The Amendment will have a far reaching implications — beyond just the tussle between any political party.

Worries:  By making it mandatory for the elected government to route all its files through the LG, the amendment will essentially take away the government's autonomy. The Amendment will be a setback for the dream of Delhi to get Full Statehood. 

- रचित




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