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New Bill on powers of Delhi govt., L-G soon

Power tussle:Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, L-G Anil Baijal.

Power tussle:Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, L-G Anil Baijal.  

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is likely to introduce a legislation in the ongoing Parliament session to amend a 1991 Act pertaining to the powers and functions of the Delhi government and the Lieutenant-Governor.

The National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2020, to “bring ease in implementation of certain provisions of the Act”, is among more than 20 Bills proposed to be introduced in this Parliament session. The Bill is yet to get the Cabinet’s nod and it was not taken up at the Union Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

A Home Ministry spokesperson did not respond to requests regarding the provisions of the Bill.

According to a source, the Bill proposes to clearly spell out the functions of the Council of Ministers and the Lieutenant-Governor by giving more discretionary powers to the L-G.

Proposed changes

According to changes proposed in the new Act, the L-G could act in his discretion on any matter that is beyond the purview of the powers of the Assembly of Delhi in matters related to the All India (Civil) Services and the Anti Corruption Branch (ACB). It will also give more teeth to the L-G, and the validity of any decision taken as per such discretion shall not be questioned.

The Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government is often at loggerheads with the Centre regarding administrative matters in the Capital. A clutch of petitions were filed in the Supreme Court against a 2015 notification by the MHA, which said that the Delhi government had no powers in services-related matters and the ACB could not register cases against any employee, officer or functionary of the Central government.

The Union Territory of Delhi with a Legislative Assembly came into being in 1991 under Article 239AA inserted by the ‘Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991’. It said that the UT of Delhi shall be called the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and the administrator thereof appointed under Article 239 shall be designated as the Lieutenant-Governor. According to the existing Act, the Legislative Assembly of Delhi has the power to make laws in all matters except public order, police, and land.

The apex court is still examining the services matter. In 2018, a five-judge Bench of the SC had unanimously held that the L-G was bound by the “aid and advice” of the Delhi government and both had to work harmoniously with each other.

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