The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed by Lok Sabha on 23rd Mar 2021, it will soon be passed by Rajya Sabha and become a law. There has been a hue and cry on the passage of the bill with Arvind Kejriwal even saying the law and undemocratic. Lets analyze all legal, political and practical aspects step by step.

First, Constitutional provisions(In nutshell Delhi is a half-state not a full-state):

  1. The Part VII of Indian Constitution defines Union Territory(UT).
  2. Article 239 defines a plain UT (say Chandigarh). Plain UT would have an Administrator(called Lieutenant Governor or LG appointed by President) and there would be no elected assembly of the UT under Article 239.
  3. Articles 239A and 239AA define the UTs of Puducherry and Delhi (called NCT of Delhi) respectively. These UTs will also have LG who will have more powers than Governors of regular states along with an elected assembly comprising of MLAs.
  4. 239AA gave all law making powers to Delhi Assembly as a normal state(like say Maharashtra or TamilNadu) except Land, Public order and Police.
  5. 239AA(3).b also empowers the Parliament to make laws for NCT. 239AA(3).c also empowers the Parliament to amend/repeal/modify any any law made by Delhi Assembly. The Parliament cannot do this in case of full states.
  6. 239AA(4) specifies that in case of dispute between LG and Govt on the decision of any ministry, the matter will be referred to President. Nothing of this sort applies to a regular state where the decision of CM in executive matters is final.

Second, Why the tussle arose?

  1. NCT of Delhi was created by the 69th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1991. From 1991 till 2014, mostly, the Central Govt and the Delhi Govt belonged to same parties. So there was no major conflict.
  2. Things change in 2014-15 when BJP formed the Central Govt and Aam Admi Party (AAP) under Arvind Kejriwal became the Delhi CM.
  3. AAP is extremely ideologically opposed to BJP. Hence, there have been many nasty disputes between LG and CM Kejriwal.

Third, what did Supreme Court(SC) say? Both Delhi Govt and LG went to SC who pronounced its Judgement in 2018.

  1. SC played a balancing act.
  2. SC said that the decisions of Delhi Govt is entitled to take all executive decisions (like providing free water, free ration etc.) but “should inform the LG beforehand” so that LG can execute his powers under 239AA(4) to refer to President in case of dispute if needed.
  3. SC also warned Delhi Govt saying that it is a not a “full state” like say Kerala and hence should stay in limits.

Fourth, Why the problem arose and what forced the Modi Govt. to bring the Bill:

  1. The Delhi Govt actually violated the orders of SC. It went ahead and implemented its own schemes and did not even inform the LG. In many matters LG did not have any idea of what the Delhi govt is doing.
  2. Matters came to a worse during the Anti CAA protests and lately the protests against farm laws. Delhi Govt/AAP fully supported the protestors and let the Delhi Administration facilitate the protests.
  3. For e.g. though the Police is in hands of Central Govt. all other necessary elements (like say buses, prosecution etc.) lie in hand of Delhi Govt. And Delhi Govt. used other resources to help the anarchist elements in the protests.
  4. This forced Modi to clip the wings of Delhi Govt. by making Delhi Govt. subservient to the LG by law (Parliament is competent to make laws to define the power of Delhi Govt as per Constitution)

Fifth, What does the bill say? (The first one in this list is the important one)

  1. The Bill adds that on certain matters, as specified by the LG, his opinion must be obtained before taking any executive action on the decisions of the Minister/ Council of Ministers.  
  2. The term “government” referred to in any law made by the Legislative Assembly will imply Lieutenant Governor (LG). 
  3. The rules under which Delhi assembly functions must be consistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha.

Sixth, Is this right or wrong? Is this bill in the interest of nation?

  1. Lets realize that Delhi is the capital of India. It is therefore different from other states and the people of entire nation have a stake on the capital.
  2. Multiple reports have clearly stated that New Delhi cannot be a full state as it is the national capital.
  3. All/Most National Capitals all over world are ruled by the Union/Govt. Federalism doesn’t (and shouldn’t) apply here.
  4. If a powerful hostile Govt. rules Delhi then it can cajole the Central Govt to submission as has happened in the case of anti-CAA and farm protests(and hence is a systemic flaw). This is not a question of BJP-AAP dispute. It could happen in any other case as well.
  5. The Anti-CAA and farm law protests (supported by Delhi Govt.) tarnished India’s image internationally.
  6. As a UT, Delhi gets more grants from Central Govt. than normal states. Hence, Central Govt. should have a check on how the money is being spent. There are rumors’ that a big chunk of the Central Money was siphoned off by corruption. Unlike other states who get the money through taxes, Delhi Govt due to special status is getting free money and is showing no restraint in looting them.

Hence, looking at all the above aspects, the bill is fully constitutional, and is in the interest of the nation. It will also stand the scrutiny of courts if need arises.

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