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The NCT of Delhi Act, 2021 Enhances Cooperative Federalism

Synopsis: The accusation made on the Government regarding the passage of the Government of the NCT  of Delhi Act 2021  is groundless.

Background of the NCT of Delhi Bill
  • Last week, both Houses of Parliament voted in favor of the amendments to the Government of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi Act.
  • Many criticized the passage of the bill that the government is undermining the federal structure of the country. Some have equated the passage of the bill as the death of democracy and Federalism.
  • But the government mentioned the Bill as a necessary change vital for the following things,
    • Ensuring clear-cut roles and responsibilities.
    • To remove ambiguities in the governance of the NCT of Delhi
    • To facilitate a clear chain of command among stakeholders
 Why the accusation against the NCT of Delhi Bill is groundless?

The Evolution of The GNCT of Delhi bill has to be examined carefully to understand the issues against the accusations of the GNCT bill.

  • First, the aim of the amendments was to clear the ambiguities in the roles of various stakeholders. Since various court judgments have observed the ambiguities and lack of clarity. The government through the recent amendment brought consistency in the definition of the term “Government”.
    1. The amendment clearly stated that the term ‘government’ refers to the Lieutenant Governor. By doing this, the government has only formalised the definition of a term that the Delhi Assembly itself had already accepted.
    2. For example, in 2015 the Legislative Assembly of Delhi passed the Delhi Netaji Subhas University of Technology Bill. It was sent for the President’s assent.
    3. However, it was returned to the Delhi assembly as it had defined the term “Government” as the “Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
    4. Later, the Delhi assembly sent a modified version of the Bill for the President’s assent. This time the definition of “government” was described as “Lieutenant Governor of NCT Delhi appointed by the President.”
  • Second, the government has proved itself as a torch-bearer of Federalism. For example, the government provided equal opportunities for States in the following events. Such as,
      1. The creation of NITI Aayog,
      2. During the establishment of the Goods and Services Tax Council,
      3. The acceptance of the Fifteenth Finance Commission’s recommendations for greater devolution.
  • Third, the amendments will ensure that there is no encroachment in legislative matters in the union’s jurisdiction. NCT Delhi has no legislative competence in matters pertaining to the police, public order, and land. However, the current proposals for providing statehood to Delhi Legislative Assembly involve one major risk. That is the encroachment of the Delhi assembly on these subjects.
  • Fourth, Delhi is of unique importance to India. It hosts the Parliament, the seat of the Union Government, Supreme court, Foreign embassies, and other institutions of national importance. In such instances, ensuring the opinion of the Lieutenant Governor can only ensure the smooth functioning of the government.

So, the NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill balances the proper functioning of the Delhi Assembly and the cooperative federalism in India.

Source: The Hindu

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