The government on Monday introduced a bill in Lok Sabha that seeks to define the role and powers of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. This has again revived the power tussle between Delhi LG and AAP government in the national capital.
- According to the proposed amendments, Sector 21 of the Act -- dealing with restrictions on laws passed by legislative assembly with respect to certain matters -- is sought to be revised to clarify that the expression 'government' referred to in any law to be made by the legislative assembly shall mean the 'Lieutenant Governor'. A sub-section shall be inserted to this effect in Section 21.
- In section 24 of the principal Act -- which requires a Bill passed by the Delhi legislative assembly to be presented to the LG who may assent, withhold or reserve it for consideration of the President -- an additional clause will be inserted to cover any of the matters that fall outside the purview of the powers conferred on the legislative assembly.
- In Section 33 of the principal Act, in sub-section (1) after the words "conduct of its business", the words "which shall not be inconsistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in House of People" shall be inserted.
- Also, in the provison, for the words "Provided that", the following shall be substituted, "Provided that the Legislative Assembly shall not make 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, and any of the rule made in contravention of this proviso, before the commencement of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, shall be void".
- In section 44 of the principal Act dealing with powers to makes rules for conduct of business, in sub-section (2) -- which states that as otherwise provided in this Act, all executive action of the Lieutenant Governor whether taken on the advice of his Ministers or otherwise shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the Lieutenant Governor -- the following proviso shall be inserted, namely "Provided that before taking any executive action in pursuance of the decision of the Council of Ministers or a Minister, to exercise powers of Government, State Government, Appropriate Government, Lieutenant Governor, Administrator or Chief Commissioner, as the case may be, under any law in force in the Capital, the opinion of Lieutenant Governor in term of proviso to clause (4) of article 239AA of the Constitution shall be obtained on all such matters as may be specified, by a general or special order, by Lieutenant Governor".
- 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.
- "The 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 the LG before issuing order thereon," it said.
- It said that 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 bill has been brought.
- The government said it wanted to clarify the expression "Government", which in the context of legislations to be passed by the Delhi assembly, shall mean the LG of Delhi, consistent with the status of Delhi as a Union Territory to address the ambiguities in the interpretation of the legislative provisions.
- It further seeks to ensure that the LG 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 assembly.
- "The said bill will promote harmonious relations between the legislature and the executive, and further define the responsibilities of the elected government and the LG, in line with the constitutional scheme of governance of National Capital Territory of Delhi, as interpreted by the Hon'ble Supreme Court," the statement of objects said.
- Reacting to the move, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of curtailing the powers of an elected government.
- "After being rejected by ppl of Del (8 seats in Assembly, 0 in MCD bypolls), BJP seeks to drastically curtail powers of elected govt through a Bill in LS today. Bill is contrary to Constitution Bench judgement. We strongly condemn BJP’s unconstitutional and anti-democracy move," Kejriwal said in a tweet.
- Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also objected and called the move "unconstitutional" and "undemocractic".
- "BJP-led Central govt has brought a Bill in Parliament to amend GNCTD Act. It is unconstitutional & undemocratic. Bill says all the authority will be given to LG and the democratically-elected govt will hold no significance after its implementation. The Bill also says that Delhi govt will have to send all the files to the LG for approval. It is an autocratic move. What is the need to hold elections if democratically-elected govt, CM, and ministers have no power," Sisodia asked.
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