Centre to introduce bill to define powers of Delhi LG

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NEW DELHI: The government on Monday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha that seeks to amend the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 to “further define the responsibilities of the elected government and Lieutenant Governor in Delhi”.

As per the statement of objects and reasons of the Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2021 tabled by MoS(Home) G Kishan Reddy, the original Act was enacted to supplement the provisions of the Constitution relating to the Delhi legislative assembly and a council of ministers and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It adds that Section 44 of the Act deals with 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 Lieutenant Governor before issuing order thereon.

The proposed amendment seeks to give effect to the interpretation of the Supreme Court regarding provisions of Article 239AA of the Constitution, relating to the structure of governance in Delhi, in its judgements dated July 4, 2018 and February 14, 2019. “In order to give effect to the interpretation made by Hon’ble Supreme Court in the aforesaid judgments, a Bill, namely, the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeks, inter alia, to clarify the expression “Government”, which in the context of legislations to be passed by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi, shall mean the Lieutenant Governor of NCT of Delhi, consistent with the status of Delhi as a Union territory to address the ambiguities in the interpretation of the legislative provisions,” according to the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill.
The Bill also 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 select category of cases and also to make rules in matters which incidentally encroach upon matters falling outside the preview of the Legislative Assembly. It also seeks to provide for rules made by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi to be consistent with the rules of the House of the People.

The government maintained that GNCTD (Amendment Bill), 2021 Bill will promote harmonious relations between the legislature and the executive, and further define the responsibilities of the elected Government and the Lieutenant Governor, in line with the constitutional scheme of governance of NCT of Delhi, as interpreted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
The draft Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, was cleared by the Cabinet last month. After TOI reported the proposed amendments, the Arvind Kejriwal government had alleged that the Centre was trying to govern Delhi through the “back door”.

As per the amendments proposed, 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’. 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 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 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 25 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 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”.

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