The Rajya Sabha on March 24, 2021 passed the ‘Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021.’ The Bill seeks to enhance the powers of Lieutenant Governor of Delhi by declaring him to be the “Government of Delhi”. It also provides that the opinion of the LG “shall be obtained” on all such matters as may be specified by the LG, before taking any executive action on decisions of the Council of Ministers of the Delhi Government. This controversial Bill was passed amidst an uproar of the opposition in the house; the opposition reportedly walked out upon the bill being passed with 83 ‘Ayes’ and 45′ Noes’ and no abstentions
The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on March 22, 2021. Congress and the ruling Aam Aadmi Party had condemned this by calling it ‘unconstitutional.’ The Supreme Court of India on July 4, 2018 in GNCT of Delhi v. Union of India & Anr case had noted that, ‘LG is an administrative head in the limited sense, and is not a Governor. He is bound by the aid and advice of the National Capital Territory (NCT) Government in areas other than those exempted.’ The current decision of the parliament is exactly in opposition to what the SC had held in the case. The Court had specifically noted, ‘If a well deliberated legitimate decision of the Council of Ministers is not given effect to due to an attitude to differ on the part of the Lieutenant Governor, then the concept of collective responsibility would stand negated.’
The Bill also prohibits the Legislative Assembly from making any rule to enable itself or its Committees to: (i) consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the NCT of Delhi and (ii) conduct any inquiry in relation to administrative decisions. Further, any provision in force having the above said effect will be void, reported live law. Further, the Bill provides that the opinion of the LG must be obtained before taking any executive action on decisions of Delhi Government, on such matters as may be specified by the LG.
Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi tweeted showing his disappointment with the passed Bill. He 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
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia wrote on twitter, “The rights of the government elected by the people of Delhi have been taken away and handed over to LG. Look at the irony, the Parliament was used to assassinate democracy which is called the temple of our democracy. People of Delhi will fight against this dictatorship #BJPFearsKejriwal.”
आज का दिन लोकतंत्र के लिए काला दिन है।दिल्ली की जनता द्वारा चुनी हुई सरकार के अधिकारों को छीन कर एलजी के हाथ में सौंप दिया गया।विडंबना देखिए कि लोकतंत्र की हत्या के लिए संसद को चुना गया जो हमारे लोकतंत्र का मंदिर है।दिल्ली की जनता इस तानाशाही के खिलाफ लड़ेगी. #BJPFearsKejriwal
— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) March 24, 2021
The infamous tussle between Delhi government and the LG
It is to be noted that ever since Arvind Kejriwal formed the AAP government in Delhi in 2015, there has been a squabble between the Chief Minister Kejriwal and LG Anil Baijal. However the tussle between the two offices started when Kejriwal’s government of 2013 passed the Jan Lokpal Bill in 2014 and the then LG Najeeb Jung sent the draft of bill to Law Ministry which said Centre’s nod mandatory to introduce Jan Lokpal Bill. This had led to the resignation of Kejriwal which resulted in the imposition of president’s rule in the National Capital. However, in the 2015 elections, Kejriwal formed his government with a massive win over 67 out of 70 seats. The earlier feud between the CM and Jung intensifies with the later annulling all bureaucratic postings by Delhi government and claiming that power to appoint and transfer rests with him.
Jung notoriously was creating confusion with the capital city to discredit the AAP government was the complaint of the government. The LG had also filed cases against Kejriwal and his predecessor Sheila Dixit in a water tanker scam and the CM’s house was also raided. When the CM had moved the High Court questioning the interference of the LG, the HC had ruled that LG is the administrative head of National Capital Territory and AAP government’s contention that he is bound to act on the advice of Council of Ministers was “without substance” The AAP government had moved to the Supreme Court. The Apex Court as mentioned earlier had ruled against the High Court’s order.
In 2016 after Jung resigned he was succeeded by Baijal and the tussle between the two offices however remained the same. When the LG refused to approve the proposal for doorstep delivery of rations in 2018, Kejriwal had strongly protested; and the AAPs demand for complete statehood for Delhi further fractured the relationship between the Delhi Government and the LG.