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National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2021

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

National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021:


Context:

The bill was recently moved in Lok Sabha.

The Bill:

  1. Proposes to amend Sections 21, 24, 33 and 44 of the 1991 Act.
  2. Proposes that the “government” in the National Capital Territory of Delhi meant the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi.
  3. Gives discretionary powers to the L-G even in matters where the Legislative Assembly of Delhi is empowered to make laws.
  4. Seeks to ensure that the L-G is “necessarily granted an opportunity” to give her or his opinion before any decision taken by the Council of Ministers (or the Delhi Cabinet) is implemented.
  5. Adds that the L-G’s opinion shall be obtained before the government takes any executive action based on decisions taken by the Cabinet or any individual minister.
  6. Bars the Assembly or its committees from making rules to take up matters concerning day-to-day administration, or to conduct inquiries in relation to administrative decisions.

How is Delhi currently administered?

Delhi is a Union Territory with a legislature and it came into being in 1991 under Article 239AA of the Constitution inserted by the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991.

As per the existing Act, the Legislative Assembly has the power to make laws in all matters except public order, police and land.

What’s the issue now?

The Bill has revived the dispute on the distribution of powers between the elected government and the Lieutenant Governor (L-G).

The Supreme Court too had intervened in the matter and delivered its verdict in 2018.

Supreme Court’s 2018 verdict:

  • L-G’s concurrence is not required on issues other than police, public order and land.
  • Decisions of the Council of Ministers will, however, have to be communicated to the L-G.
  • The L-G was bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
  • 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.

Concerns:

By making it mandatory for the elected government to route all its files through the L-G, the amendments will essentially take away the government’s autonomy and the dream for full statehood for the state.

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.

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