From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Various provisions of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act
Mains level : Centre vs. Delhi Govt
The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was tabled in Lok Sabha.
What is the MCD Amendment Bill?
- The Bill seeks to amend The Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, to effectively undo the earlier 2011 amendment to the Act.
- Under the 2011 Act, the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was trifurcated into separate North, South, and East Delhi Municipal Corporations.
Key features of the Bill
(1) Unification of Municipal Corporations in Delhi:
- The Bill replaces the three municipal corporations under the Act with one Corporation named the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
(2) Powers of the Delhi government:
- The Act as amended in 2011 empowers the Delhi government to decide various matters under the Act.
- These include:
- Total number of seats of councillors and number of seats reserved for members of the Scheduled Castes,
- Division of the area of corporations into zones and wards,
- Delimitation of wards,
- Matters such as salary and allowances, and leave of absence of the Commissioner,
- Sanctioning of consolidation of loans by a corporation, and
- Sanctioning suits for compensation against the Commissioner for loss or waste or misapplication of Municipal Fund or property
- Similarly, the Act mandates that the Commissioner will exercise his powers regarding building regulations under the general superintendence and directions of Delhi government.
- The Bill instead empowers the central government to decide these matters.
(3) Number of councillors:
- The Act provides that the number of seats in the three corporations taken together should not be more than 272.
- The 14th Schedule to the Act specifies 272 wards across the three Corporations.
- The Bill states that the total number of seats in the new Corporation should not be more than 250.
(4) Removal of Director of Local Bodies:
- The Act provides for a Director of Local Bodies to assist the Delhi government and discharge certain functions which include:
- Coordinating between Corporations,
- Framing recruitment Rules for various posts, and
- Coordinating the collecting and sharing of toll tax collected by the respective Corporations.
- The Bill omits this provision for a Director of Local Bodies.
(5) Special officer to be appointed by the central government:
- The Bill provides that the central government may appoint a Special Officer to exercise powers of the Corporation until the first meeting of the Corporation is held after the commencement of the Bill.
(6) E-governance system for citizens:
- The Bill adds that obligatory functions of the new Corporation will include establishing an e-governance system for citizen services on anytime-anywhere basis for better, accountable, and transparent administration.
(7) Conditions of service for sweepers:
- The Act provides that a sweeper employed for doing house scavenging of a building would be required to give a reasonable cause or a 14 day notice before discontinuing his service.
- The Bill seeks to omit this provision.
Issues with the Amendment Bill
The Bill, when passed, will not return the MCD exactly to its pre-2011 situation. There are many sections in the Bill that will make the new MCD very different from the older one.
- New delimitation exercise: Reducing the number of seats means a new delimitation exercise will have to be conducted, which experts say will take at least three months, but is more likely to take six months.
- Bureaucratization: Appointing a Special Officer means that until the elections are concluded, the Centre will likely appoint an officer to run the corporation. The Bill also does away with the provision of appointing a Director of Local Bodies by the Delhi government.
- Central hegemony: The other significant change is the replacement of the word “government” with “Central government” in all places. The bill hence seeks to curtail the powers of the elected govt of New Delhi by introducing central hegemony.