The Government of Delhi NCT (Amendment) Act, 2021 received the President's assent in March 2021. The bill was recently passed by both the houses of the Parliament. This act brings some changes in the government of NCT of Delhi. In this article, you can read about the important provisions of GNCT Act for UPSC exam.

Delhi Government (Amendment) Act, 2021

The Act basically gives more power to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and dilutes the power of the elected government. This Act seeks to bring clarity on certain matters in the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, 1991.

  • This Act amends the Delhi Act, 1991 of the National Government.
  • This gives the LG more power in some cases while ensuring accountability of the Delhi Assembly.
  • As per the objects and reasons of the Act, it is clarified that to eliminate the absence of clarity on what matters or proposals need to be submitted to the LG before the order is issued.
  • Its aim is to "further define the responsibilities of the elected government and the Lieutenant Governor (LG) in Delhi".

Background of the issue

  • It was in 1991 that Delhi was given a fully elected Legislative Assembly and a responsible government through a constitutional amendment.
  • The 69th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1991 granted a special status to the Union Territory of Delhi, and redesignated it as the 'National Capital Territory of Delhi' and designated its administrator as the Lieutenant Governor (LG).
  • However, a UT, Delhi was treated as a special case and given special constitutional status by the Parliament.
  • The 1991 Act provided for a fully elected assembly and a council of ministers responsible for the assembly.
  • It gave the Assembly the power to make laws on all matters in the State List as well as the Concurrent List except land, police and public order. However, the laws of Parliament are dominated by those made by the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
  • It was also brought in a provision from the Union Territories Government Act, 1963, i.e. in case of difference between the LG and the Council of Ministers on any matter, it shall be referred to the LG by the President. Judgment and pending such decision, the LG may take any action on the matter, as it may deem fit.
  • However, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that the government does not have to seek the concurrence of the LG's on its decisions and that any differences between them should be resolved, taking into account the constitutional primacy of representative government and cooperative federalism. The government is under constant threat from the power of the LG to part ways with the government on important issues.
  • The judgment stated that the LG was bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
  • It also said that the decisions of the Council should be communicated to the LG.
  • The SC, however, has held that the LG cannot refer a case mechanically or mindlessly and it has to make all efforts to resolve the differences within the transaction's framework of law and business rules.
  • Encouraged by the decision, the state government stopped sending executive affairs files to the LG before implementation. It kept the LG informed of all administrative developments, but not necessarily before implementing or executing any decision.

GNCT Act Provisions: Some of the important provisions of the Delhi Government's NCT (Amendment) Act, 2021 are discussed below.

  • The term 'Government' in any law enacted by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi shall mean the LG. The Act defines 'Government' as LG.
  • This law also gives discretionary powers to the LG in cases where the Legislative Assembly is empowered to make laws.
  • An additional clause added to Section 44 of the 1991 Act makes it mandatory for the government to obtain the opinion of the LG on all matters before any executive action, ensuring accountability. This means that the state government or the cabinet will have to take the opinion of the LG before taking any decision.
  • The amendment also states that "the Legislative Assembly shall not make any rules enabling itself to consider matters of the day-to-day administration of the capital or to make inquiries in respect of administrative decisions".

What is the requirement of Delhi Government's NCT (Amendment) Act, 2021?

In the objects and reasons mentioned, the Government states that there is no structural arrangement for effective time bound implementation of Section 44 of the 1991 Act. Further, there is no clarity on what matters are required to be submitted to the LG before implementation.

Drawbacks of Delhi Government NCT (Amendment) Act, 2021 -

Opposition parties in Delhi and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which came to power, have responded by calling the GNCT Amendment Act unconstitutional. According to him, the amendments seek to dilute the power of a democratically elected government in the state of Delhi. They also say that the position of Chief Minister of Delhi would be considered redundant and would adversely affect the federal nature of the country. The Act states that the Delhi Legislative Assembly shall not make rules enabling itself or its committees to consider matters of day to day administration. It further states that no rule shall be made by the Legislative Assembly for making inquiries in respect of administrative decisions. One of the amendments requires that the state government seeks the opinion of the LG before implementing any decision. This may curtail the government's power to take quick decisions to suppress matters as it will have to wait till the LG gives his opinion. There is also no time limit for the LG to give his opinion.

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  Last update :  Wed 17 Aug 2022
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  Post Category :  Indian Politics