Centre asks Delhi to clear Rs.1,128 crore dues
The Union Labour Ministry has asked the Delhi government to clear its pending Rs.1,128 crores dues towards Employee State Insurance Corporation(ESIC) healthcare scheme. The expense of the ESIC scheme is paid jointly by the Centre and the Delhi government. The new demand from the Centre is likely to increase the bickering between the BJP-led Centre and AAP-led Delhi government.
The division of power in Delhi
The division of powers between Delhi government and Centre is governed by the Article 239AA of the Constitution which was inserted after the 69th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1991. Since Delhi is not a full state but a UT, powers such as public order, land and police are under the control of the central government. This has strained the relationship between the Centre and Delhi.
The Constitutional provision
According to the Article 239AA of the Constitution, the council of ministers headed by the chief minister will advise the Lieutenant Governor(LG) except where he may act as per his discretion. However, in the case of difference of opinion, LG is required to refer the matter to the President and act according to President's advice. The ambiguity in provision creates a ground for conflict.
A historical acrimony
Since the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) government came to power in Delhi, the acrimony between the Delhi government and Centre has constantly increased. The tussle between the two continues over issues such as transfer of Police to Delhi government, appointment of government officials especially in Anti-Corruption Bureau, release of Municipal Corporation funds, etc. The ESIC issue may be the latest in the tug-of-war.
What is ESIC?
The Employee State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme is a social security scheme which provides medical facilities to the employees in the formal sector. It was started in 1952 and is governed by Employees' State Insurance Act, 1948 (ESI Act). Medical care facilities are provided to the workers and their family workers in the events of sickness, maternity, disablement and death due to employment injuries.
The curious case of Delhi
Health is a state subject, therefore, the cost of ESIC benefits are provided by the state governments. But in the case of Delhi, the Delhi government bears 1/8th of the expenditure.