Tussles between Kejriwal and Centre
With the objective of giving a proper “interpretation” of a Supreme Court ruling, the Centre on Monday introduced a bill in Lok Sabha that seeks to define certain role and powers of the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi. Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the BJP of seeking to drastically curtail the powers of his elected government through a new bill in the Lok Sabha. He also said that the bill is “contrary to Constitution Bench judgement.”
The tussles started when the Aam Admi Party (AAP) Government led by Kejriwal started picking fights with Central Government on each issue and claiming that he has more power over the Lieutenant Governor. This ugly tussle even went up even in courts. In many crucial cases involving Delhi Police which is totally under the Central Government, Delhi Government’s lawyers para-trooped and made different arguments many a time.
According to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, the original bill was enacted to supplement the provisions of the Constitution relating to the Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers for Delhi and for matters connected therewith.
It must be remembered no such issue was in Delhi Government till Sheila Dikshit’s Government, which worked under both BJP and her party Congress governments ruling the Centre. The same was the situation and there was no tussle when BJP Chief Ministers Madan Lal Khurana and Sahib Singh Verma worked under Central Government during Congress regimes. In a nutshell, the problems started during Kejriwal became Chief Minister in Delhi and started throwing tantrums.
According to proposed amendments, Section 21 of the Act — dealing with restrictions on laws passed by legislative assembly with respect to certain matters — is sought to be revised to clarify that the expression ‘Government’ referred to in any law to be made by the legislative assembly shall mean the ‘Lieutenant Governor (LG)’. A sub-section shall be inserted to this effect in Section 21.
In section 24 of the principal Act — which requires a Bill passed by the Delhi Legislative Assembly to be presented to the LG who may assent, withhold or reserve it for consideration of the President — an additional clause will be inserted to cover any of the matters that fall outside the purview of the powers conferred on the legislative assembly. In Section 33 of the principal Act, in sub-section (1) after the words “conduct of its business”, the words “which shall not be inconsistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in House of People” shall be inserted.
Also, in the proviso, for the words “Provided that”, the following shall be substituted, “Provided that the legislative assembly shall not make any rule to enable itself or its committees to consider the matters of the day-to-day administration of the Capital or conduct inquiries in relation to the administrative decisions, and any of the rule made in contravention of this proviso, before the commencement of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, shall be void.”
In section 44 of the principal Act dealing with powers to makes rules for the conduct of business, in sub-section (2) — which states that as otherwise provided in this Act, all executive action of the Lieutenant Governor whether taken on the advice of his Ministers or otherwise shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the Lieutenant Governor — the following proviso shall be inserted, namely “Provided that before taking any executive action in pursuance of the decision of the Council of Ministers or a Minister, to exercise powers of Government, State Government, Appropriate Government, Lieutenant Governor, Administrator or Chief Commissioner, as the case may be, under any law in force in the Capital, the opinion of Lieutenant Governor in term of the proviso to clause (4) of Article 239AA of the Constitution shall be obtained on all such matters as may be specified, by a general or special order, by Lieutenant Governor.”
According to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, the original bill was enacted to supplement the provisions of the Constitution relating to the legislative assembly and a Council of Ministers for Delhi and for matters connected therewith. “Section 44 of the act deals with the 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 LG before issuing order thereon,” it said.
It said that to give effect to the interpretation made by the Supreme Court which had ruled that the city government need not obtain the Lieutenant Governor’s “concurrence” of every issue of day-to-day governance, the bill has been brought. The government said it wanted to clarify the expression “Government”, which in the context of legislation to be passed by the Delhi Assembly, shall mean the LG of Delhi, consistent with the status of Delhi as a Union Territory to address the ambiguities in the interpretation of the legislative provisions.
It further seeks to ensure that the LG is necessarily granted an opportunity to exercise the power entrusted to him under proviso to clause (4) of Article 239AA of the Constitution, in a select category of cases and also to make rules in matters which incidentally encroach upon matters falling outside the preview of the assembly.
“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 National Capital Territory of Delhi, as interpreted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” the statement of objects said.
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