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The National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2020

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

The National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2020:


Context:

The bill is proposed to be introduced in this Parliament session.

  • It seeks to amend the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991 pertaining to the powers and function of the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor.

Highlights of the proposed Bill:

  • It proposes to clearly spell out the functions of the Council of Ministers and the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) by giving more discretionary powers to the L-G.
  • As per a provision, the L-G could act in his discretion in any matter that is beyond the purview of the powers of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi in matters related to the All India (Civil) Services and the Anti Corruption Branch.
  • It will also give more teeth to the L-G, and the validity of any decision taken as per such discretion shall not be questioned.

How is Delhi administered presently?

The Union Territory of Delhi with a Legislative Assembly came into being in 1991 under Article 239AA of the Constitution inserted by ‘the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991’.

  • It said that the UT of Delhi shall be called the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and the administrator thereof appointed under Article 239 shall be designated as the Lieutenant-Governor.
  • According to the existing Act, the Legislative Assembly of Delhi has the power to make laws in all matters except public order, police, and land.

Issues present:

Due to the co-existence of Article 239 and 239AA, there is a jurisdictional conflict between the government of NCT and the Union Government and its representative, the Lieutenant Governor.

  • According to the Union government, New Delhi being a Union Territory Article 239 empowers the Lieutenant Governor to act independently of his Council of Ministers.
  • However, the state government of Delhi held that the Article 239AA of the Constitution bestows special status to Delhi of having its own legislatively elected government.

This creates a tussle around the administrative powers of the LG and state government of NCT of Delhi.

Supreme Court judgment:

In 2018, the Supreme Court had unanimously held that the L-G was bound by the “aid and advice” of the Delhi government and both had to work harmoniously with each other.

Unresolved Areas in the Judgement:

Overlapping Areas: Though the court has settled that LG is bound to act on the aid and advice except in respect of ‘Land’, ‘Public Order’ and the ‘Police’. However, Public Order is a very wide connotation, which subsequently leads to overlapping executive powers.

Still No Clarity on Article 239AA (4): The court did not very clearly delineate the issues in respect of which the LG can refer a decision taken by the Council of Ministers to the President in the event of a difference of opinion between the LG and the State government.

Open-Ended Terminologies: In the event of referring any matter to the President, the Court enunciated that LG must adhere to the constitutional principles of collaborative federalism, constitutional balance and the concept of constitutional governance. However, these terms are very wide and open- ended. They are subject to different interpretations.

eclected

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Articles 239A vs 239AA.
  2. Powers of Delhi Government vs LG.
  3. How administration of Delhi is different from administration of other states having a legislature?
  4. When did Delhi get a legislature?
  5. How is Delhi LG appointed?

Mains Link:

Write a note on the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991.

Sources: the Hindu.