GNCTD Bill 2021- A Capital Punishment for the Capital?

The National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, that increases the power of the Lieutenant Governor and limits the power of the elected government in some aspects. The GNCTD bill 2021 was earlier passed in the lower house amidst strong opposition from the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party terming it to be unconstitutional. Delhi CM Kejriwal reacted in strong opposition to the development tweeting;

What makes the NCT (Amendment) Bill, 2021 controversial?

The certain additions to the Sections of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 (Act) have made the bill controversial.

  • Section 3– Extends the powers of the Lieutenant Governor through an amendment of Section 24 of the 1991 Act, which deals with “Assent to bills.”
  • Section 5– Will add a proviso to Section 44 of the 1991 Act (dealing with ‘conduct of business’), that makes compulsory for the government to obtain the opinion of the Lieutenant Governor on all matters, before taking any ‘executive action’.
  • Section 33– The Legislative assembly cannot make any rule to enable itself or its committee to consider in matters of the day-to-day administration of Delhi or conduct inquiries in relation to administration.

Why did the Central Government propose amendments to the Act?

The Centre gave a clarification on its intention of introducing amendments to GNCTD Act stating that it brought into effect the interpretation made Hon’ble Supreme Court in Government of NCT of Delhi v. Union of India.”.

In its 2018 verdict, the LG was bound the aid and advice of the council of ministers. The apex court held that the LG’s concurrence is not required on issues other than police, public order and land. However, decisions taken the Council of Ministers will have to be communicated to the LG. “It has to be clearly stated that requiring prior concurrence of the Lieutenant Governor would absolutely negate the ideals of representative governance and democracy conceived for the NCT of Delhi Article 239AA of the Constitution,” the court had ruled. 

What changes will these new amendments bring?

With the passage of the GNCTD Bill, the elected government will now be forced to take the advice of the Lieutenant Governor before taking any decision. This, for some experts, is a way to dilute the entire idea of federalism and built dictatorship.
AAP has 62 MLAs in Delhi Assembly out of 70, with multiple committees examining various matters. However, now the Assembly or the committees will be barred from taking up matters ranging from riots to environment. The implications of the amendments are far-reaching, beyond just the AAP-vs-BJP tussle.