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NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill is against the spirit of Federalism.

Synopsis: The Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 gives more powers to the Lieutenant governor(LG). Further, It is against the principle of representative democracy.

Evolution of The Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) act 1991

  1. India follows Parliamentary democracy with a cabinet form of government. This is a basic structure of the Indian Constitution.
  2. When the Constitution came into force, there were four kinds of States. (Parts A, B, C and D States)
  3. The states under C and D were directly administered by centrally appointed Chief Commissioners and Lieutenant Governors. They don’t have any elected Assemblies. Delhi came under Part C.
  4. But in 1951, a Legislative Assembly was created with an elected Chief Minister for Delhi.
  5. However, issues of jurisdictions and functional autonomy between the Chief Minister and chief commissioner of Delhi was always present. This led to the resignation of the 1st chief minister in 1955.
  6. In 1956, following the States Reorganisation Act, only two categories(States and Union Territories) remained in the Indian Union.
  7. Delhi became a Union Territory. Also, the Legislative Assembly of Delhi was abolished. Then, Delhi was administered by an Administrator appointed by the President.
  8. In 1966, the Delhi Administration Act 1966 provided a limited representative Government in Delhi. But there were repeated political demands that demanded a full statehood to Delhi.
  9. To resolve this, the Balakrishnan Committee was set up in 1987. Consequently, the committee made the following recommendations
      • Delhi should continue to be a Union Territory.
      • But there must be a Legislative Assembly and Council of Ministers responsible with appropriate powers to ensure stability.
  10. Based on this report, the Constitution (69th) Amendment Act and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCT) Act, 1991 were passed.
  11. This act provided Delhi with a Legislative Assembly, a Council of Ministers and an elected Chief Minister.

Why Delhi is kept under the control of the Union Government?

  1. First, our Constitutional makers feared that Delhi will acquire a predominant position compared to other States if Delhi had statehood. So they included Delhi under Part C.
  2. Second, Delhi is the National capital. So Parliament decided to keep Delhi under Union Government on the basis of national interest.
  3. Third, to avoid federal disputes and provide for smooth administration in Delhi. For example, If full statehood is provided to Delhi, then two different political parties at the centre and Delhi will result in higher conflicts than the present ones.

Salient provisions of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill:

The NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill has few significant provisions. They are,

  1. The bill reduces the power of representative government. It provides enormous powers to the Lieutenant governor (directly appointed by the centre).
  2. It makes the opinion of the Lieutenant Governor mandatory for taking any executive action.

Challenges with the NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill:

  1. The Bill is against federalism (basic structure of the constitution). It gives more powers to the centre.
  2. The bill is against the provisions of representative democracy. It limits the power of the people. On the other hand, it gives more powers to the directly appointed administrators.
  3. The Bill aims to hand over the accountability of Delhi to an unelected, centrally appointed government functionary.
  4. The bill also violated the directions given by the Supreme Court. The SC provided a balanced approach. It mentions the LG has to ‘aid and advice’ the matters on which the Delhi Assembly has powers under the State and Concurrent Lists.

The government must reconsider the NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill as per the advice of the Supreme Court.

Source: The Hindu

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