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THE GOVT OF NCT OF DELHI (AMENDMENT) ACT

The Government of India enacted the Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021 to bring some changes to the already enacted act.

This Article is written by Ashima Gupta student of VIPS, Delhi.

INTRODUCTION

The Government of India enacted the GOVT OF NCT OF DELHI, 2021. The Govt. of NCT OF Delhi Act was first introduced in the Lok Sabha on 5th March 2021. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on 22nd March 2021 and by the Rajya Sabha 24th March 2021. The purpose of this Amendment is to resolve the conflict between the two heads of Delhi i.e.,  the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister and to give more power to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) and to ensure more accountability of the Delhi Legislative Assembly within the constitutional framework.  The Govt. of NCT OF Delhi Actefines the responsibilities of the Lieutenant Governor and the elected government. It also seeks to give effect to the Supreme Court decision in the case of Govt. NCT Of Delhi v. Union Of India. There has been a wide range of discussions regarding the Amendment and its implication.

BRIEF HISTORY

In 1956, Delhi lost its statehood and was given the status of a Union Territory. The Union Territory of Delhi was given a special status of National Capital Territory of Delhi in 1991. The 69th Amendment introduced Articles 239AA and 239BB in the Constitution of India. This created a Legislative body, a Constitutional Head and an Elected Head. In 1991,The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act was passed. The 1991 Act was passed to supplement the constitutional provisions relating to the Council of Ministers and the Assembly in the National Capital. The purpose of the Act was to define the powers of LG, the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers. Every Bill passed by the Legislative Assembly had to be approved by Lieutenant Governor, because of this there were always conflicts between the Centre and the State Government but these conflicts increased when BJP got hold of Centre and AAP got elected as the Government of Delhi.From 2015 to 2018 there were constant conflicts. The AAP government was involved in battles with Centre over certain policy decisions and also the powers of the LG vis-à-vis the elected government.In 2015, Arvind Kejriwal approached Delhi High Court to seek a solution for the unconstitutional interference of the LG. It was argued that there cannot be argued that there cannot be two reporting authorities. It was also argued that however the High Court upheld that the LG is a constitutional head of the State of Delhi.

Arvind Kejriwal then approached the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court overruled the judgment of the High Court.

In its 2018 verdict a five-judge Bench held that the Lieutenant Governor’s concurrence is not required on issues other than police, land and public order. The Court also stated that the decisions taken by the Council of Ministers will have to be communicated to the Lieutenant Governor. It was stated that The Lieutenant Governor is bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers. The Court pointed out that the elected government must keep in mind that Delhi is not a state. It has the status of a Union Territory. The court said that the elected government should work in association with the LG. The Bench constituting of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud, A K Sikriand Ashok Bhushan said that the status of the Lieutenant Governor 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.

OBJECTS           

The object of the amendment Bill is to give effect to the Supreme Court’s interpretation and  it also seeks to define the responsibilities of the Lieutenant Governor and the elected government in line with the Constitutional scheme. The Amendment seeks to clarify the meaning of the expression “Government” and to address the ambiguities in legislative provisions as its core objectives.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

  1. The Bill states that the term “government” in every law made by the Legislative Assembly will imply Lieutenant Governor (LG).
  2. The 1991 Act gave the Legislative Assembly the power to make rules to regulate the conduct of business and procedure in the Assembly. The Bill seeks to amend this and provides that such Rules have to be consistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha.
  3. The former LG Najeeb Jung had asserted that “Government means the Lieutenant Governor of the NCT of Delhi who is appointed by the President under Article 239 and designated as such under Article 239AA of the Constitution”. The Bill seeks to give effect to this assertion.
  4. Section 4 of the Amendment Act amends the Section 33 and transfers all the day to day administrative powers which were earlier vested in the Chief Minister to the Lieutenant Governor.
  5. After the Amendment it is mandatory to seek the advice of the Lieutenant Governor in all the executive decisions of the Council of Minister.
  6. The amendments of GNCTD Bill 2021 seek to ensure that the Lieutenant Governor is given an opportunity to exercise the powers that have been entrusted to him under the proviso to Clause (4) of Article 239AA of the Constitution of India.
  7. The Legislative Assembly is prohibited from making any rule that enables it or its Committees to hold any inquiry in relation to administrative decisions considering the matters of day-to-day administration of the NCT of Delhi . The Bill  also provides that all such rules made before its enactment will be void.
  8. The Act states that every executive action by the government must be taken in the name of the LG.  It also states that on certain matters his opinion must be taken into consideration before taking any executive action on the decisions of the Minister/ Council of Ministers.

IMPLICATION

The amendments will have far-reaching implications.  The Govt. of NCT OF Delhi Act has been criticised on the ground that it harms the federal system of our country. The Amendment transfers a lot of the power to the Lieutenant Governor. By taking the power from the elected government and giving it to an appointed headie the power is shifted to the Central government which is against the very essence of the Constitution of India and The Govt. of NCT OF Delhi Act. Lieutenant Governor’s opinion has to be taken before implementing any decision. No time limit has been specified under which the LG is bound to give his/her opinion. Through the amendments the government’s autonomy is taken away. In a democracy people have the right to choose the government. Taking powers from an elected government is against the essence of democracy.

REFERENCES

  1. Constitution of India
  2. Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2021, March 26,2021https://journalsofindia.com/government-of-national-capital-territory-of-delhi-amendment-bill-2021/
  3. Govt. Of Nct Of Delhi v. Union Of India C. A. No. 2357 of 2017
  4. Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991
  5. Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021
  6. Sourav Roy Barman, Mallica Josh, Explained: Centre versus state in Delhi – what is the latest issue? https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/national-capital-territory-of-delhi-bill-2021-lieutenant-governor-arvind-kejriwal-7229925/