The Bill seeks to make it clear that the ‘government’ in Delhi means the ‘Lieutenant Governor’ was passed by Lok Sabha on March 22
Parliament on Wednesday approved a bill giving primacy to Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor (L-G) over the elected government, after uproar by the opposition in Rajya Sabha with members of several parties walking out of the House.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed it as a “sad day for Indian democracy” and said the AAP dispensation will continue to struggle to restore power to Delhiites as Rajya Sabha passed by a voice vote the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The Delhi government will now have to seek the opinion of the lieutenant governor before any executive action after the passage of GNCTD bill.
The Centre has maintained that the bill is in line with the Supreme Court’s July 2018 ruling on the ambit of powers of the lieutenant governor and the Delhi government after a series of run-ins between the two. The Aam Aadmi Party said it was planning to approach the Supreme Court against the legislation, alleging it was an “unconstitutional” attempt to make the Delhi government “administratively impotent” by a political party that has been made “electorally impotent” by the people of the national capital.
The bill which seeks to make it clear that the “government” in Delhi means the “Lieutenant Governor” was passed by Lok Sabha on March 22. The members of Congress, Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena, DMK and other opposition parties also termed the bill as “unconstitutional” and claimed that it will fail judicial scrutiny.
They demanded that it be examined by a Select Committee. The Upper House witnessed two brief adjournments as opposition members trooped into the Well and shouted slogans against the Centre. Rajya Sabha Secretariat called marshals who formed a protective ring around the Chair as well as Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy who moved the bill for further consideration.
The members of the BJD, SP and the YSR-Congress walked out of the House. During the debate, Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi tore into the proposed legislation, dubbing it is “most unconstitutional bill” which the House has ever received and went on to say that “even the Delhi BJP should join us in opposing this”.
“Make no mistake friends this is not about AAP, or Congress or BJP. It’s about the fundamentals of federalism,” he said, and alleged the current regime at Centre was engaged in “coercive federalism”.
Defending the bill, Union Minister Reddy asserted that the amendments have been brought to address certain ambiguities in the 1991 law and rejected allegations that it was an attempt to usurp the powers of the elected government. Sanjay Singh, MP of Aam Admi Party (AAP) which is in power in Delhi, took a jibe at the BJP saying the bill has been brought as it lost assembly elections twice.
“I am seeking justice for two crore citizens of Delhi and for 130 crore Indians. I am standing here to save the Constitution of India,” he said.
A notice moved by Singh regarding the bill was not approved by the Chair. A division was sought by the opposition when the government moved the bill for consideration in the Upper House on Wednesday.