Lieutenant Governor not Arvind Kejriwal the new ruler of Delhi

On 28th march 2021 our president gave assent to the the new National Capital Territory (amendment) Act 2021.The government of National capital territory (amendment) Bill was introduced on 15th March 2021 in Lok sabha. It amends the National Capital Territory of Delhi Act 1991. This act provides, framework for the functioning of the National capital territory of Delhi. The government while bringing the bill to the parliament claimed it would “further define” the responsibilities of the elected government and the lieutenant governor of Delhi  in line with the constitutional scheme of the governance, as interpreted by the supreme court.

National Capital Territory of Delhi Act 1991

  1. This act may be called constitution (sixty-ninth) amendment Act 1991
  2. There shall be a Legislative Assembly for the National Capital Territory and the seats in such Assembly shall be filled by members chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the National Capital Territory.
  3. Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Legislative Assembly shall have power to make laws for the whole or any part of the National Capital Territory with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the State List or in the Concurrent List in so far as any such matter is applicable to Union territories
  4. There shall be a Council of Ministers consisting of not more than ten per cent. of the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly, with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Lieutenant Governor in the exercise of his functions in relation to matters with respect to which the Legislative Assembly has power to make laws, except in so far as he is, by or under any law, required to act in his discretion.
  5. The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly.
  6. Parliament may, by law, make provisions for giving effect to, or supplementing the provisions contained in the foregoing clauses and for all matters incidental or consequential thereto.

It was pronounced in Government of NCT of Delhi V Union of india where a five judge constitution bench passed the judgment that,  the lieutenant governor has no independent decisions making powers and was bound by the ‘aid and advice’ of the chief minister of Delhi headed by the council of ministers except in the matters of police,land and public order. Even though this verdict was positively and unanimously accepted by all the party members the National Capital Territory Act 1991 was again amended this year and the bill was passed by both the houses.

“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,” the judges had said.

According to the law passed now, the government of Delhi means the lieutenant governor and not the chief minister or the elected government of Delhi. It can be seen from the previous instances that the centre has tried to control Delhi. Well it can be clearly understood in accordance with this new law that the lieutenant governor has now the utmost powers (where the lieutenant governor is appointed by the president and holds the office at the presidents pleasure).

The Delhi elected government, now have to seek the opinion of lieutenant governor on every executive action taken, this might really affect the Delhi cabinet decisions and decelerate the development projects of the National Capital. It’s hypocrisy, when they call Kiran Bedi autocratic and bring this law. This substitution of the lieutenant Governor, will have immense consequences , It would be sufficient to deduce that now the lieutenant is the advisor, the legislator as well as the executive head of the Delhi Government . The law has been interpreted as narrowly as possible to gain maximum control of Delhi, section 24 clearly indicates that the government of Delhi i.e Lieutenant governor “ incidentally covers any of the matters which falls outside the purview of the powers conferred on the Legislative Assembly”. Looking at section 24 and section 44  Constitutional Lawyer Rajeev Dhawan calls it a move to ‘control’ the legislative power of Delhi.

Arvind Kejriwal called the development an “insult” to the people of Delhi and said it “effectively takes away powers from those who were voted by people and gives powers to run Delhi to those who were defeated”. He accuses the BJP government of trying to rule Delhi by proxy through lieutenant governor and blocking the elected government’s plans.

Whereas it could also be called a hostile takeover by the central government owing it to the incapable handling of Covid-19 situation and trying to usurp the powers vested in the elected government of Delhi.

REFERENCE

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