Parliament proceedings | Lok Sabha passes Bill that seeks to clarify that 'Govt.' in Delhi means 'L-G'

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the Bill will end ambiguity and enhance efficiency of administration.  

The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a Bill that defines that the word “government” in Delhi means the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) and makes it mandatory for the elected government in the national capital territory to take the opinion of the L-G before any executive action.

Amid strong protests from Opposition parties, including the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Bill was passed by a voice vote.

While Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy said the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill (GNCTD), 2021, was necessary to remove ambiguities and make governance in Delhi more accountable and efficient, the Oppositions members accused the Narendra Modi government of ‘usurping’ the power of the elected government in the national capital and trying to rule Delhi through the L-G by making his office a ‘super Chief Minister’.

‘Poor loser’

The lone AAP member of Parliament from Punjab, Bhagwant Mann, accused the BJP of being a ‘poor loser’ and alleged that the Centre had become a specialist in taking away rights of the States.

Echoing other Opposition members, Mr. Mann also wondered why Assembly elections in Delhi should be held if all the powers were to be given to the L-G. He also asked if the Centre plans to turn the national capital into a Union Territory like Jammu and Kashmir where there is an Assembly but is non-functional.

Initiating the debate, Congress MP Manish Tewari said the legislation was ‘unconstitutional and mala fide’ that sought to take away the representative character of Delhi’s government. Citing an amendment moved by former Home Minister L.K. Advani, Mr. Tewari argued that the Delhi government was empowered to make laws on all subjects, except police, public order and land. He also argued that the Bill violated the ruling of a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.

Replying to the debate, the Minister said when the GNCTD Act was enacted in 1991 by the then Congress government that made Delhi a Union Territory (UT) with an Assembly with “limited legislative powers” and quoted former Congress Home Minister S.B. Chavan as saying, “it was in national interest.’

Several cases

Mr. Reddy said though there had been cordial relations between the Centre and the Delhi governments since 1996, many issues came up since 2015 and several cases were filed before the Delhi High Court.

“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,” Mr. Reddy said.

He strongly refuted Opposition allegations that “democracy has been murdered by a dictatorial Modi government.”

“If we are wrong, we will listen to the abuses. But without being wrong, we won’t tolerate abuses. It is aimed at bringing more transparency,” the Minister said.

Countering the Congress MP, BJP’s Meenakashi Lekhi, who represents the New Delhi seat in the Lok Sabha, said the Bill would rectify the ‘mismanagement’ of Delhi’s governance by streamlining the multiple authorities.

She also slammed the Arvind Kejriwal government for spending over ₹540 crore in advertisement when that money should have been spent on governance.

Blaming both the Congress and the ruling AAP for the current state of affairs, Ms. Lekhi asked “Why did the Congress not give full Statehood to Delhi when it was in power” and asserted that India’s Constitution was quasi-federal and not purely federal in nature.

Another BJP MP, Brijendra Singh (Haryana), said the need for the present Bill arose because “an anarchist” came to power in 2013 and if Delhi had full Statehood under such a person, one would have witnessed ‘civil war’.

Stressing that the Bill is against the spirit of cooperative federalism, NCP member Supriya Sule asked the government to refer the Bill to a Select Committee of Parliament for further discussions and also asserted that the AAP chief, Arvind Kejriwal, must be doing something right to be ‘repeatedly’ winning elections.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 4:37:20 AM |

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