New Delhi: A bill that seeks to make it clear that the ‘government’ in Delhi means the ‘Lieutenant Governor’ was passed Monday by the Lok Sabha. The bill was passed amidst strong opposition from the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Both said that the legislation is ‘unconstitutional’.
Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has become necessary. This is because there have been ambiguity in certain issues related to the functioning of the Delhi government and several cases were also filed in courts.
“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,” Reddy said.
According to the bill, the ‘government’ in Delhi means the ‘Lieutenant Governor’.
The bill also makes it mandatory for the Delhi government to take the opinion of the L-G before any executive action.
Delhi’s ruling AAP has opposed the bill. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had even urged the central government to take back the bill. He had said the AAP dispensation was ready to fall at the Modi government’s feet for its withdrawal.
Reddy said there have been cordial relations between the central and Delhi governments since 1996. He pointed out all differences were resolved through discussions. However, since 2015, some issues have come up and cases were filed before the Delhi High Court, which also gave certain rulings.
Reddy said the court had also ruled that the L-G should be informed on executive issues of the city government. He said when the GNCTD Act was enacted in 1991 by the then Congress government, Delhi was made a UT with an assembly with ‘limited legislative powers’. “We did not do that. It was a Congress government which piloted the Act then,” he said.
Reddy said the LG is an administrator so he has the right to know the day-to-day affairs. “We have not snatched any power from the Delhi government nor we have given any additional power to the LG,” asserted.
Reddy strongly objected to some opposition members’ reference that the ‘Modi government is dictatorial’. He said the NDA government has not done anything wrong or new but just ended ambiguity and brought clarity on the Delhi government.
Participating in the debate, Congress member Manish Tewari said the bill is ‘unconstitutional’. This is because it encroached upon the powers of the city government. AAP member Bhagwant Mann also strongly opposed the bill and demanded its roll back.