Written by Divija Vaish, a grade 12 student
In March this year, the Central Government introduced a new bill for Delhi, called the GNCTD Bill or the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (a minor change or addition designed to improve a text, piece... More) Bill.
According to the Centre, the bill crystallises the responsibilities of the elected Delhi Government and its Lieutenant Governor. However, Arvind Kejriwal’s government has asserted that it will, in fact, limit their powers in the UT of Delhi. Health Minister Satyendar Jain alleged that BJP has repeatedly offended the constitution and, with the passage of this bill, has demolished its essence. “They have insulted people’s right to vote,” he tweeted.
What does the Bill say?
More power to the LG of Delhi: The GNCTD Bill makes it obligatory for the Delhi Government to seek the opinion of the Lt. Governor before making any decisions. Through its amendments, the Bill seeks to replace the ‘Government’ with the ‘Lieutenant Governor’- who is appointed by the Centre, and hence works keeping the Centre’s interests in mind. The Bill states “The expression “Government” referred to in any law to be made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the Lieutenant Governor.”
While explaining the motive behind the Bill, Home Affairs Minister
G Kishan Reddy said that the amendments have been introduced to remove any and all obscurities from the GNCTD 1991 Act. He emphasised that there was no political angle behind the changes in law, and the Bill was introduced on “technical grounds”.
According to a statement of objects and reasons of the Bill, the original bill was enacted to add to the provisions of the Constitution which related to the legislative assembly and a Council of Ministers for Delhi.
The statement said, “The said 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 the NCT of Delhi, as interpreted by the Supreme Court.”
What do Delhi’s Ministers say?
A group of 76 former civil servants released a joint statement in early April, in response to the GNCTD Bill. In their letter they said that the passage of the bill was an “unfortunate move” and “bad in law”. It stated that this act will not only severely incapacitate governance in Delhi, but also inadvertently have serious repercussions on the excursion of federal governance in India. Further in their letter, the former civil servants expressed their “deep[ly] concern[ed]” over the passage of the law which “appears to make a mockery of constitutional provisions”. They said that the same strategy was used when Article 370 was “abrogated”, in the sense that there was no “no consultation with the legislature or discussion with other political parties”.
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