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‘Black Day for Democracy’ says AAP

The Parliament passed the GNCTD bill, which was also cleared in Rajya Sabha, mandating the Delhi government to seek the opinion of the Lieutenant Governor before any executive action.

The Parliament on Wednesday approved the controversial “Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi” bill which gives primacy to the Lieutenant governor — The Centers Representative — over the elected government.

It is being seen as a major setback for the Aam Aadmi Party which has been wrangling with the Lieutenant governor since it first came to power in 2013.

The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) bill mandates that the opinion of the Lieutenant governor has to be considered before the Delhi government takes any executive decision.

In a tweet, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “RS passes GNCTD amendment Bill, 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”.

RS passes GNCTD amendment Bill. 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.

— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 24, 2021

The bill was criticized by opposition MP’s who argue that the bill will destroy democracy. The opposition had made demands that the bill should be sent to a Select committee.

The Aam Aadmi Party said that it is planning to approach the Supreme Court against the bill. AAP alleges that the bill is an unconstitutional attempt by the central government to prevent and paralyze the elected Delhi government from making administrative decisions while also taking a swing at BJP, AAP said it (BJP) was made “electorally impotent” by the people of Delhi, this is in regards to the Aam Aadmi Party Triumph in Delhi over BJP in Legislative Assembly Elections in 2020.

What is in the bill?

The “Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment)” bill will bridle the Delhi assembly’s ability to conduct its proceedings as per the rules of procedure made by it. It (the bill) requires the rules made by the Legislative assembly to regulate the procedure and conduct of business should be in line with the rules of procedure and conduction of business in the Lok Sabha.

According to the bill, the “government” in the city would mean the Lieutenant Governor, meaning any law with the expression “government” made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the Lieutenant Governor. It (the bill) seeks to give primacy to the Lieutenant Governor over the elected government.

The bill would also make it mandatory for the elected government to consult the LG before making any executive decision, also pressing the government to send files and seek the opinion of the LG before taking any administrative decisions.

The Bill also prohibits the Legislative Assembly from making any rules which would enable it to: (1) Consider the day to day matters of the administration of NCT of Delhi and (2) Impede the Legislative Assembly from conducting any inquiry on administrative decisions. Any provision already in force having the above said effects will be void.

Passing of the bill

During the parliamentary debate, there was strong aversion from the opposition towards the bill. “The present legislation is unconstitutional and colored. It seeks to remove the limits imposed by the Constitutional Bench on the powers of the LG,” Congress MP Manish Tewari said.

He emphasized that “the 69th Constitutional Amendment granted a special status to Delhi for having an elected Government.”LG cannot be given overriding powers by making him the Government. Except police, public order and land, the Government had all the powers to make laws under article 239 A (a) of the Constitution,” he said.

Dr S.T Hassan of the Samajwadi Party added that the current proposal is in conflict with the Supreme Court decision whereby the Delhi government had to only “inform” the Lieutenant governor of its decision.

“The Supreme Court said the Delhi government was empowered to take decisions on all subjects except public order, police and land. It also said the LG being the Administrative head shall be kept informed with respect to all the decisions taken by the Council of Ministers. Informing the LG doesn’t mean taking permission. We are overturning the 5-judge bench,” he said.

Union Minister G Kishan Reddy, however, in defense of the bill said it neither takes away any rights from the Delhi government nor does it give any new rights to the LG. He argued that the proposed amendments are simply to clarify the decision by the Supreme Court.

On Monday, 22nd of March, the bill was passed in Lok Sabha to augment the powers of the Lieutenant governor of Delhi. Amid the flap and protest by the opposition members, the bill was cleared by Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

In a voice vote after the opposition staged a “walkout”, the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh declared the bill passed. The motion to consider the bill was passed before the opposition walkout with 83- 45 in favor ensuing which the opposition walked out.


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