The GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi) Act was originally enacted in 1991, making Delhi a Union Territory having a legislative assembly with “limited legislative powers”. The government in Delhi had always had more administrative powers as opposed to other Union Territories.
However, amidst mass protest and opposition, a new Amendment Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday which redefined the powers of the government. The GNCTD Act Amendment 2021 states that the “government” in Delhi would henceforth refer to the Lieutenant Governor in any law that is passed by the legislative assembly.
The Bill makes it compulsory for the Delhi Government to consult the Lieutenant Governor before any executive actions are taken. It also prohibits the Legislative Assembly from making any rules that would give itself or its Committees power to interfere in day-to-day administration of the NCT of Delhi and conduct inquiries into administrative decisions. Any such existing rules will also be rendered void.
Before the Bill was declared to be passed in the Rajya Sabha by Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh, members of various parties (BJD, SP, Congress, etc.) staged a peaceful walkout. The votes received were 83-45 in favor of passing the bill. The bill was also earlier passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that it was a sad day for democracy. He said that the BJP has cheated the people by taking away the powers they had vested in the existing government whom they had voted for, but ensured that they will continue to work as before without slowing down or stopping. AAP MP Sanjay Singh also opposed the bill saying that the BJP had only introduced it because they had lost the Delhi elections two times in a row. This Bill comes as a blow to Kejriwal since he had been lobbying for the full statehood of Delhi.
RS passes GNCTD amendment Bill. Sad day for Indian democracy
We will continue our struggle to restore power back to people.
Whatever be the obstacles, we will continue doing good work. Work will neither stop nor slow down.
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 24, 2021
Opposition and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said that the Bill was unconstitutional and should be scrutinized by a Select Committee. The Opposition also alleged that the bill was an attempt to overturn the decision of a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court which maintained that the Lieutenant Governor is an administrative head in a limited sense bound by the aid of the Council of Ministers of the Delhi Government except in matters of land, police and public order.
. @BJP4India Govt is making a habit of bringing in bills & passing them without any debates, deliberations or discussions.
Mocking parliamentary procedures has now become official business in both houses of the Parliament. pic.twitter.com/YN8aN4N7xK
— Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha (@LoPIndia) March 22, 2021
Union Minister G Kishan Reddy refuted all these claims and said that there was nothing unconstitutional about the amendment and that the Lieutenant Governor should be aware of the day-to-day affairs of Delhi. He said that no powers are being taken away from the existing AAP government and no extra powers are being given to the Lieutenant Governor.
The GNCTD Amendment Bill as passed by the Rajya Sabha does not, in anyway, go against the constitutional principles but only removes technical ambiguities plaguing the legislation.
My statement in this regard, yesterday, in the Rajya Sabha. pic.twitter.com/wS7oDd47pK
— G Kishan Reddy (@kishanreddybjp) March 25, 2021