President clears controversial Delhi Bill redefining 'government' as L-G
President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday passed a controversial law giving more powers to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, a representative of the Centre, over the city's elected government. The Bill is said to undermine the elected Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi. It had faced huge criticism by the Opposition, which called it anti-democratic and unconstitutional. Here are more details.
President gave assent to GNCT Bill yesterday
President Kovind on Sunday gave his assent to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The President was at the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi when he signed the Bill as he is scheduled to undergo a bypass procedure on Tuesday. He has been under observation with chest comfort since Sunday.
What does the GNCT Bill say?
The Bill seeks to amend the GNCT of Delhi Act, 1991, and redefines Delhi Government as the L-G. It says the L-G's opinion "shall be obtained" on all such matters as may be specified by him before any executive action on decisions of the Council of Ministers. The Union Home Ministry will now declare when it will come into effect.
Parliament had cleared Bill last week
The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on March 22 and the Rajya Sabha on March 24 amid a huge uproar. In the Rajya Sabha, the Opposition had staged a walkout, describing the Bill as "coercive federalism." AAP's Rajya Sabha MP ND Gupta had earlier said that the party will move the Supreme Court if the Bill is passed.
Assault on democracy and federalism: Kejriwal
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has described the Bill as the "BJP's assault on democracy and federalism." When the Bill cleared the Rajya Sabha, he had said, "Sad day for Indian democracy...We will continue our struggle to restore power back to people. Whatever be the obstacles, we will continue doing good work. Work will neither stop nor slow down."
AAP had secured landslide victory in 2020 elections
The Kejriwal-led AAP had won the 2020 Assembly elections in Delhi, bagging a whopping 67 out of 70 Assembly seats. The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—which leads the ruling National Democratic Alliance at the Centre—had won a meager three seats during the election. The AAP has notably often accused the BJP of trying to rule Delhi by proxy, through the L-G.
Bill seen as attempt to circumvent Supreme Court's 2018 decision
The Bill is viewed as a way to circumvent the interpretation made by the Supreme Court in the Delhi v/s LG case. In 2018, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the SC had held that the L-G is "bound by the aid and advice" of the Council of Ministers of Delhi Government, except in matters of land, police, and public order.