The spat between Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and the Centre was revived with the Home Ministry on Monday introducing a bill in Parliament that gives extended power to the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) of Delhi. This prompted Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to accuse the BJP of “drastically curtailing” the powers of his elected government.
According to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the “government” in the city would mean the “Lieutenant Governor” in the context of any law to be made by the legislative assembly.
The bill, introduced by Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy, makes it mandatory for the Delhi government to take inputs from the L-G before any executive action in Delhi.
Irked, Kejriwal sought to know what role will his elected government play if, according to the bill, “government” means the “LG”.
“The Bill says- 1. For Delhi, “Govt” will mean L-G Then what will elected govt do? … 2. All files will go to L-G This is against 4.7.18 Constitution Bench judgment which said that files will not be sent to LG, elected govt will take all decisions and send copy of decision to LG,” he tweeted.
The bill states that the legislative assembly shall not make any rule to enable itself or its committees to consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the national capital or conduct inquiries in relation to the administrative decisions.
“Any of the rule made in contravention of this proviso, before the commencement of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, shall be void,” it said.
“When a bill has been passed by the legislative assembly, it shall be presented to the lieutenant governor and the lieutenant governor shall declare either that he assents to the bill or that he withholds assent therefrom or that he reserves the bill for the consideration of the president…” it said.
The Delhi government and Centre have been targeting each other since AAP came to power for the second time in 2015. In June 2018, Kejriwal and his Cabinet ministers had staged a sit-in at the Lieutenant Governor’s office as a power tussle between the then lieutenant governor and the AAP government had intensified.
The Supreme Court had in July 2018 ruled that the L-G cannot interfere in every decision of the Delhi government and that he must act on aid and advice of the council of ministers.
Since the 2018 judgement, there have been no major flashpoints between the Arvind Kejriwal government and the BJP-led central government.
However, the Centre’s move to introduce the bill in Lok Sabha on Monday is likely to revive the power tussle between the two sides.
While Sisodia alleged that if the bill is passed, only the lieutenant governor will be running the Delhi government.
“Article 3a of 239AA of the Indian Constitution states that subject to the provisions of the constitution, the legislative assembly shall have power to make laws for the whole or any part of the national capital territory with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the state of list or in the concurrent list in so far as any such matter is applicable to union territories except matters with respect to entries 1,2, and 18 of the state list and entries 44, 65 and 66 of that list in so far as they relate to the said entries 1,2,and 18.”
However, Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta claimed that despite the NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, about 75% of administrative powers will rest with Delhi’s elected government and advised the ruling AAP to not ensue any power struggle.