The ruling Aam Aadmi Party and the Indian National Congress in Delhi have begun protesting against a new bill in the Lok Sabha that they fear would make Delhi's state government redundant.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday, March 15, accused the BJP of seeking to drastically curtail the powers of the national capital's elected government after the Centre introduced a Bill in Lok Sabha, likely to be passed by Parliament, to bring amendments to the Act that decides the roles of the elected government and the nominated Lieutenant-Governor in Delhi.
"Elections and the elected government in Delhi will become meaningless, if the proposed amendments to The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, are passed," The Indian Express quoted Delhi's Deputy CM Manish Sisodia.
According to officials, the two proposed amendments have the potential to render the elected government irrelevant as one clearly states that the expression "government" will mean the Lieutenant Governor in laws made by the Legislative Assembly while the other says that for any executive action, the opinion of the L-G has to be sought.
Delhi's Deputy CM, on Monday, said, "An undemocratic and unconstitutional Bill has been brought by the Centre in Parliament which says that L-G is the government and all the files and decision have to be routed through him."
"This Bill is totally against the order of the Constitutional Bench of Supreme Court. What is the point of holding elections in the state and having an elected government? Why does the Centre pretend to be democratic," said Sisodia.
Earlier in 2018, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court ruled that in matters that were not directly under the control of the L-G, the L-G would be bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
Reacting to this whole situation, CM Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, "After being rejected by people of Delhi (8 seats in Assembly, 0 in MCD bypolls), BJP seeks to drastically curtail powers of elected government through a Bill in Lok Sabha today. Bill is contrary to the Constitution Bench judgement. We strongly condemn BJP's unconstitutional and anti-democracy move."
Manish Sisodia also tweeted, "BJP has brought a new law in Parliament today - 1. The Lieutenant Governor will be the government in Delhi. 2. The Chief Minister and the Minister will have to send every file to LG. Before the election, the BJP's manifesto says that Delhi will be made a full state. After winning the election, it is said that LG will be the only government in Delhi."
Minister of State for Home, G Kishan Reddy, introduced The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which proposes to amend four clauses of the 1991 Act.
The "statement of objects and reasons" section of the proposed bill suggests that the Bill seeks to give effect to the Supreme Court's interpretation and that it "further defines" the responsibilities of the elected government and the Lt Governor in line with the Constitutional scheme. The amendment which clearly states that the term 'government' in any law made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the L-G, gives effect to former L-G Najeeb Jung's 2015 assertion that 'Government means the Lieutenant Governor of the NCT of Delhi appointed by the President under Article 239 and designated as such under Article 239 AA of the Constitution'.
According to this proposed bill, before the government takes any executive action based on decisions taken by the Cabinet or any individual minister, it would be necessary to obtain L-G's opinion on the concerned matter.