Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 | 17 Mar 2021

Why in News

Recently, the central government introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha to amend the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991.

  • It aims to "further define the responsibilities of the elected government and Lieutenant Governor (LG) in Delhi".

Key Points

  • Provisions of the Bill:
    • “Government" to mean "Lieutenant Governor (LG)": The expression 'Government' referred to in any law to be made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the Lieutenant Governor (LG).
    • Widening of Discretionary Powers of LG: The Bill gives discretionary powers to the LG even in matters where the Legislative Assembly of Delhi is empowered to make laws.
    • Necessarily Granted an Opportunity to LG: It seeks to ensure that the LG is “necessarily granted an opportunity” to give her/his opinion before any decision taken by the Council of Ministers (or the Delhi Cabinet) is implemented.
    • Related to Administrative Decisions: The amendment also says that “Legislative Assembly shall not make any rule to enable itself to consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the Capital or conduct inquiries in relation to the administrative decisions”.
  • Need of the Amendment:
    • For Structural Clarity: The Ministry of Home Affairs’ statement on “objects and reasons” of the Bill stated that Section 44 of the 1991 Act deals with conduct of business and there is no structural mechanism for effective time-bound implementation of the said section.
      • Also, there is no clarity as to what proposal or matters are required to be submitted to Lieutenant Governor before issuing order thereon.
      • Section 44 of the 1991 Act says that all executive actions of the LG, whether taken on the advice of his Ministers or otherwise shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the LG.
  • Background of the Events:
    • In its 2018 verdict, the five-judge Bench had held that the LG’s concurrence is not required on issues other than police, public order and land.
      • It had added that decisions of the Council of Ministers will, however, have to be communicated to the LG.
      • The LG was bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
    • The court also said that the status of the LG of Delhi is not that of a Governor of a State, rather he remains an Administrator, in a limited sense, working with the designation of Lieutenant Governor”.
      • It had also pointed out that the elected government must keep in mind that Delhi is not a state.
    • Encouraged by the Supreme Court verdict, the elected government had stopped sending files on executive matters to the LG before the implementation of any decision.
      • It has been keeping the LG informed of all administrative developments, but not necessarily before implementing or executing any decision.
      • But the amendment, if cleared, will force the elected government to take LG's advice before taking any action on any cabinet decision.

Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991

  • Delhi’s current status as a Union Territory with a Legislative Assembly is an outcome of the 69th Amendment Act through which Articles 239AA and 239BB were introduced in the Constitution.
  • The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Act was passed simultaneously to supplement the constitutional provisions relating to the Assembly and the Council of Ministers in the national capital.
  • For all practical purposes, the GNCTD Act outlines the powers of the Assembly, the discretionary powers enjoyed by the LG, and the duties of the Chief Minister with respect to the need to furnish information to the LG.