top of page

National Capital Territory - New Delhi


Introduction


The issue of NCT has been a source of contention for quite some time. It is complicated because it not only creates tension between the centre and the states, essentially undermining the federal spirit, but it also creates a power struggle between the executive, or LG, and the elected representative government.


Federalism


Federalism is a form of political structure that binds distinct polities together within a larger political framework while allowing each to retain its integrity. It is a term that refers to the constitutionally mandated division of powers between two or more levels of government in the modern nation-state system—one at the national level and another at the provincial, state, or local level.


Separation of Powers


According to this rule, institutions of governance are separated into three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, each with its own set of autonomous powers and responsibilities, so that one department does not interfere with the operations of the other two. If this principle is not followed, there will be increased opportunities for power abuse and corruption. It aims for some power demarcation and tries to bring exclusivity in the operation of each organ.



The 69th Amendment Act of 1992


It added two new Articles 239AA and 239AB, which grant special status to the Union Territory of Delhi.


According to Article 239AA, the Union Territory of Delhi shall be understood as the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and its administrator shall be known as the Lt. Governor.


It also establishes a legislative assembly for Delhi, which has the authority to make laws on subjects from the State List and Concurrent List, with the exception of public order, land, and police.


It also establishes a Council of Ministers for Delhi, comprised of no more than 10% of the assembly's total membership.


Article 239AB states that the President may suspend the operation of any provision of Article 239AA or of all or any of the provisions of any law enacted in accordance with that article by issuing an order. Article 356 (President's Rule) is similar to this provision.


Government of NCT ( National Capital Territory )of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021


Restriction on laws passed by the Assembly:


The Bill provides that the term “government” referred to in any law made by the Legislative Assembly will imply Lieutenant Governor (LG).


Rules of Procedure of the Assembly:


The Act authorises the Legislative Assembly to enact Rules to govern the procedure and conduct of business in the Assembly. The Bill specifies that such Rules must be consistent with the Lok Sabha's Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business.


Inquiry by the Assembly into administrative decisions:


The Bill prohibits the Legislative Assembly from enacting any rule that would allow it or its Committees to:


  • consider matters of day-to-day administration of the NCT of Delhi, and

  • conduct any inquiry into administrative decisions.


Assent to Bills:


The Act requires the LG to reserve certain Bills passed by the Legislative Assembly for the consideration of the President. These Bills are those that:

  1. may limit the powers of the High Court of Delhi,

  2. the President may direct to be reserved,

  3. deal with the salaries and allowances of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Assembly members, and Ministers, or

  4. deal with official languages of the Assembly or the NCT of Delhi.


The Bill also requires the LG to reserve for the President any Bills that incidentally cover any of the matters outside the purview of the Legislative Assembly's powers.


LG's opinion for executive actions:


According to the Act, all executive actions taken by the government, whether on the advice of the Ministers or otherwise, must be taken in the name of the LG. The Bill adds that on certain matters, as specified by the LG, his opinion must be obtained before taking any executive action based on the Minister's/Council of Ministers' decisions.


Criticism


The latest amendment will significantly reduce the Delhi government's efficiency and speed of delivery by requiring it to consult with the L-G even when a situation requires immediate action.


Notably, the L-G is not required to provide his opinion to the State government within a specific time frame. Critics argue that the L-G could use his unrestricted powers to halt the government's administrative work and, as a result, turn the political tides against the incumbent if he so desires.


It contradicts the spirit of "Federalism."

Comments


bottom of page