GNCTD bill absolutely constitutional, says expert
GNCTD bill absolutely constitutional, says expert
New Delhi: The battle has erupted yet again in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, with the Centre on Monday having introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill (GNCTD), 2021, in the Lok Sabha. The Bill if passed gives more powers to the Governor of Delhi. While the AAP believes it would reduce the powers of the Delhi Government and hence has expressed its resentment.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and other leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party stated that the Bill which has been introduced is a murder of the rights that have been provided to the elected government by the constitution.
The Aam Aadmi Party has also decided to stage a protest against the amendment bill on Wednesday.
The Delhi Government and AAP supporters will also gather at the Jantar Mantar to protest against the GNCTD Bill. Now, the big question is - What exactly is this Bill which has been introduced by the Central Government in the Lok Sabha? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Or is it truly an attempt to seize the constitutionally given rights to a chosen government through the bill? In this context, ETV Bharat had a detailed conversation with constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap about this.
'This bill is absolutely constitutional'
According to the constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap, the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that has been introduced in the Parliament is absolutely constitutional. This bill clarifies the order of the Supreme Court with regard to the rights of the Delhi Government and the Lieutenant Governor. There has been no violation of any constitutional process and as Delhi is a Union Territory, the rights of the Lt Governor and the Delhi Government have been clearly specified beforehand.
'Centre to bring in a new law'
Subhash Kashyap says that Delhi is a Union Territory that is governed by the President and the Lieutenant Governor. In such a situation, the rights of the state government are limited. He added that being a National Capital Region (NCR), the Parliament has additional powers to amend any kind of law or bring in a new law.
'The Bill clearly outlines the powers of Lieutenant Governor'
Commenting on the bill, Subhash Kashyap said that there has been an ongoing confrontation between the Kejriwal government and the central government over the years, regarding the powers of the state-government elected by the people and the powers of the Lt. Governor nominated by the Center. It was after a long legal battle, that the Supreme Court had finally ensured the jurisdiction of both the Delhi government and the Lt. Governor.
Though the jurisdiction of the state government was clarified, there has been confusion regarding the powers of the Lieutenant Governor. So now, the purpose of this amendment bill is to clarify the powers of the Lieutenant Governor.
'Kejriwal Government opposing it for political gains'
Subhash Kashyap says that the Kejriwal government opposing the amendment bill by saying that it is a move to oppose the elected government of Delhi is just a political stunt. The comments being made about this bill, and the intensified debates on the issue, is just an attempt to take political advantage.
He even termed the Kejriwal government's opposition to the bill as political propaganda. Also, the Delhi Government will not lose its powers with this bill instead a provision has been made to work in harmony with the Lieutenant Governor.
'Clear mention of administrative and legislative rights in the bill'
In this bill, it is proposed to clearly define the administrative and legislative powers of the Lieutenant Governor, which remain outside the purview of the Supreme Court's decision. Therefore, it is believed that this bill will increase the rights of the Lieutenant Governor.
'What is this bill brought by the central government?'
In this bill introduced by the Central Government in the Parliament, it is speculated that this bill emphasizes the explicit instructions given by the Supreme Court. Under this, the responsibilities of the State Government and Lieutenant Governor in Delhi have been laid out. The bill also states that any of the laws passed by the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi shall mean the Lieutenant Governor.
It is in this scenario, that the Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi Government has expressed its reluctance towards the Bill. The bill also states that if any decision has been taken by the state government cabinet or any minister, then the opinion or approval of the Lt. Governor is mandatory. At the same time, the Legislative Assembly will not have the authority to make any law on its own. This would in a way affect the administrative capability of the Delhi Government.
'Lieutenant Governor vs Delhi Government, the same old battle continues'
In 2014, there had been a dispute between the Arvind Kejriwal led government and the then Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung over the Jan Lokpal bill. In such a situation, Kejriwal dropped his government within 49 days, as the former failed to garner support on the issue in the Delhi Assembly.
In 2015, again after having won 67 out of 70 seats, there was a confrontation between the government and the Lt. Governor on issues such as - appointment of Chief Secretary, ACB, VK Shunglu Committee report, AAP MLA's camp office, Mohalla clinics, CCTV and new buses etc.
'Battle between officials reach Court'
In the year 2016, the ongoing battle for rights between the Delhi Government and the Lieutenant Governor reached the court. On August 4, 2018, the Delhi High Court gave the verdict in favour of the Lieutenant Governor, which led the Delhi government to move the Supreme Court. The matter reached the Supreme Court and in the year 2018-19, the Supreme Court gave its verdict.
According to the order of the Supreme Court, the Lt. Governor was asked to get approval on decisions related to land, police and public order in Delhi. Apart from this, the state government was free to take any decision sans the approval of the Lieutenant Governor.
However, instructions were given to inform the Lieutenant Governor about the decision taken by the Cabinet of the Delhi Government. But following the Supreme Court's decision, the state government stopped sending the files pertaining to administrative decisions to the Lt. Governor. This again led to a dispute between the Delhi Government and the Lieutenant Governor. Now, this bill has been introduced in the Parliament by the Centre.
'Delhi Government's objections to the Bill'
The Delhi Government has strongly objected to the bill presented in Parliament. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says that if the bill is passed then the government in Delhi would require the approval of the Lieutenant Governor, which is wrong.
How an elected government and Lieutenant Governor have to work in the Union Territories has been outlined in the Constitution. Even work is progressing well in other union territories. Subhash Kashyap says that when the former CM Sheila Dikshit was in Delhi, there were no confrontations with the Lieutenant Governor and that both worked in great harmony. Also, it was during Sheila Dikshit's tenure, that a lot of development work was done in Delhi.