The Lok Sabha today passed The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which aims at giving the union government more power over Delhi. The Bill suggests amendments to the Act that specifies the roles of the elected government and the nominated Lieutenant Governor in Delhi.
The union government had said that the bill had been brought to end ambiguity in running the affairs of the national capital and appealed to everyone not to term it a “political move” since it will be beneficial to the people of the city.
Reacting to the decision, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Passage of GNCTD amendment Bill in Lok Sabha today is an insult to the people of Delhi. The Bill effectively takes away powers from those who were voted by people and gives powers to run Delhi to those who were defeated. BJP has cheated the people.”
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that if the proposed amendments to The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, were to be passed, elections and the elected government in Delhi would become meaningless.
Officials said two proposed amendments, in particular, had the potential to render the elected government irrelevant. While one seeks to state clearly that the expression “government” will mean the Lieutenant Governor in laws made by the Legislative Assembly, the other says that the opinion of the L-G has to be sought for any executive action.
“The Centre has brought in an undemocratic and unconstitutional Bill. It says L-G is the government and all decisions and files have to be routed through him,” Sisodia said on Monday. “This Bill goes against what the Supreme Court Constitution Bench order had stated. If this is what the Centre wants to do, what is the point of holding elections and there being an elected government in the state? Why does the Centre pretend to be democratic?” he asked.
The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 15 March, following which Delhi ministers and AAP MPs, MLAs and councillors had staged a protest at Jantar Mantar here against it, saying it gives overarching power to the L-G.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021, introduced by Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy, proposes to amend four clauses of the 1991 Act.
The first is in Section 21, “Restrictions on laws passed by Legislative Assembly with respect to certain matters”. The Bill seeks to add a subsection making it clear that the “expression ‘Government’ referred to in any law to be made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the Lieutenant Governor”.
The second amendment is sought in Section 24, which deals with assent to Bills passed by the Legislative Assembly. The amendment seeks to add that the L-G will not assent to and pass on to the President for consideration any Bill which “incidentally covers any of the matters which falls outside the purview of the powers conferred on the Legislative Assembly”.
Third, the Bill wants to add in Section 33 (“Rules of procedure”) that rules made by the Assembly for regulating its procedure and conduct of business shall not be “inconsistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in House of People”.
Also, “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.”
The amendment Bill seeks to add that before any executive action is taken in “pursuance of the decision of the Council of Ministers or a Minister” or to “exercise powers of the government”, the opinion of the L-G has to be obtained.