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Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Indian Federalism, Centre-State Relations

 

Source: IE

 Context: The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, was introduced in the Lok Sabha, leading to opposition protests and debates.

 

About the Bill:

The bill aimed to replace the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023, which deals with the control of services in Delhi.

 

Background of the Issue: 

The Delhi government and Lieutenant Governor have been in a legal battle since 2015 over control of “services” in Delhi. The Supreme Court gave a split verdict in 2019, and a five-judge Constitution Bench recently (May 2023) granted more powers to the Delhi government over services. It ordered that the Delhi government will have control over administrative services other than matters related to public order, police, and land.

To counter it, the central government passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023. The ordinance excluded “services” from the purview of the Delhi legislature and conferred LG with more powers. It will now be replaced by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

 

Key features of the new bill:

AspectDescription
PurposeTo amend certain provisions of the Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991.
Establishment of NCCSAIntroduces the National Capital Civil Services Authority (NCCSA) to provide recommendations to the LG on service matters.
Composition of NCCSANCCSA consists of the Chief Minister of Delhi (Chairperson), Principal Home Secretary, and Chief Secretary of the Delhi Govt.
Empowerment of Central Govt.Central Govt. empowered to make rules regarding the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi’s affairs, officer & employee functions, terms, and conditions.
Discretionary Power to LGLG granted discretionary power over matters beyond Delhi Assembly’s competence or requiring judicial/quasi-judicial action.

 

Concerns regarding the bill:

ConcernsDescription
Centralization of PowerCritics argue that the Bill centralizes power in the hands of the LG, diminishing the elected government’s authority.
Bypassing the Legislative AssemblyOpponents claim that the Bill bypasses the elected Legislative Assembly’s decision-making role.
Impact on Cooperative FederalismCritics argue that the bill is undermining the democratic mandate and interfering with local governance.
Potential for ConflictSome fear that discretionary power given to LG could lead to conflicts between the elected govt. and LG.
Constitutional ValidityQuestions arise about the constitutional validity of the Bill and its alignment with federal principles.
Curtailing Delhi Government’s AutonomyCritics worry that the Bill might curtail the autonomy of the Delhi government in policy-making.

 

How UTs are administered?

The Union Territories (Uts) in India are administered by the President through an appointed administrator, who represents the President and exercises administrative powers in the UT. In some Uts, such as Delhi and Puducherry, the administrator holds significant powers, including the ability to make laws and regulations for the UT, while in others, the administrator’s powers are limited to providing advice to the elected government.

 

Special provision for Delhi UT:

Special provisions have been made for certain Uts, such as Puducherry, Delhi, and Jammu and Kashmir (yet to be constituted), which have a legislative assembly and a Council of Ministers headed by a Chief Minister. The legislative assembly of these Uts has the power to make laws with respect to matters enumerated in List II or List III in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution insofar as these matters are applicable in relation to the UT.

However, some entries in List II, such as public order, police, and land, are not within the legislative competence of the legislative assembly of Delhi.

 

Insta Links:

Centre-Delhi row heads to Constitution Bench

 

Mains Links:

Whether the Supreme Court Judgement (July 2018) can settle the political tussle between the Lt. Governor and the elected government of Delhi? Examine. (UPSC 2018)

 

Prelims Links: 

In the context of India, which one of the following is the characteristic appropriate for bureaucracy? (UPSC 2020)

  1. An agency for widening the scope of parliamentary democracy
  2. An agency for strengthening the structure of federalism
  3. An agency for facilitating political stability and economic growth
  4. An agency for the implementation of public policy

 

Ans: 4