On Monday (March 22, 2021), the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed by the Lok Sabha. The Centre claimed this not being a political move and said that this will erase any ambiguity in running the affairs of the National Capital.
This Bill was passed even after strong opposition from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) along with Congress. Both these parties have called it ‘unconstitutional.’ Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi claimed that the Bill that wants to clear, ‘government’ in Delhi means the ‘Lieutenant Governor’ is an ‘insult’ to the people of the Capital.
The initiation of debate on this Bill was done by G Kishan Reddy who alleged that since there had been ambiguities in dealing with certain issues pertaining to the functioning of the Delhi Government leading to filing of some court cases, it has become significant to do so.
He said, “"Please do not say that it is a political bill. It is being brought to end ambiguity in certain issues as Delhi is a Union Territory. It will end certain confusion or technicality and enhance the efficiency of the administration.”
The GNCTD Bill was introduced on March 15. After its introduction, a protest at Jantar Mantar was conducted by the MPs, MLAs andCouncillors of the ruling AAP claiming that this tends to provide overreaching powers to the LG.
Kejriwal said this Bill disrespectfully will take power away from the representatives that were selected by the people of Delhi. He had tweeted, “The passage of the 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.”
Previously, Kejriwal had requested the Centre to take back this Bill and said AAP was "ready to fall at the (Narendra) Modi government's feet" for its withdrawal.
In the Lok Sabha, Reddy went on to highlight how cordial the relationship between the Centre and Delhi Governments had been, ever since 1996. All the issues could be resolved through discussions, however, various issues started cropping up from 2015, pertaining to which some cases had been filed in the Delhi HC and it gave numerous rulings.
He further stated that in one of the rulings of the Delhi HC, it was decided that the LG must be informed on the executive issues of the Government.
The Statement of Objects and Reasons annexed to the original Bill claim to support the provisions of the Constitution pertaining to Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers for Delhi.
The Bill has now made it compulsory for the Delhi Government to take LG’s opinion before any executive action. It said:
"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 L-G before issuing order thereon."
It further that the Bill has been brought forth to give effect to the interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling that the City Government does not need to obtain the LG’s ‘concurrence’ of every issue of the day-to-day governance.
The Bill strives to ensure that LG has an efficient opportunity to exercise the power he has been endowed with, under proviso to clause (4) of Article 239AA of the Constitution, to form rules in the matters that incidentally lead to encroachment upon the matters that fall outside the purview of the Assembly.
Lastly, the Statement of Objects said, "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 the National Capital Territory of Delhi, as interpreted by the Supreme Court.”