Delhi Full Statehood Issue

Ending ambiguity in Delhi government through amendment to NCT Act

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 239AA and 239AB

Mains level : Paper 2- Amendments to NCT Act

The article highlights the objectives of amendments to the Government of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi Act.

Background of Article 239AA and 239AB

  • On December 20, 1991, Home Minister S B Chavan tabled the Constitution Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha to add Article 239AA and 239AB to our Constitution.
  • The Bill was passed unanimously with all 349 members in the Lok Sabha supporting the bill.
  • The amendment paved the way for setting up a legislative assembly and a council of ministers for the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi.

What the recent amendment to NCT Act seeks to achieve

  • The amendments aimed to clear ambiguities in the roles of various stakeholders.
  • It also seeks to provide a constructive rules-based framework for stakeholders within the government of Delhi to work in tandem with the Union government.
  • The amendment that was passed by Parliament aims to bring in consistency that the Delhi government has acknowledged and course-corrected on.
  • As the Act now has the President’s assent, we also need to ensure that the LG is made more accountable.
  • This can be done by stipulating a maximum time limit to decide on matters that are referred to the LG in the case of legislative proposals and administrative matters in the rules.
  • The constitutional amendment passed in 1991 empowers the Parliament to enact laws supplementing constitutional provisions.
  • Similarly, the Government of NCT of Delhi also has the power to enact laws regarding matters specified under the state list and concurrent list, to the extent these apply to a Union territory.
  •  In the case of the Government of NCT of Delhi, it has no legislative competence in matters pertaining to the police, public order, and land, which are in the state list but do not apply to Union Territories.
  • The risk of incremental encroachments on these subjects by the Delhi Legislative Assembly can have severe ramifications for Delhi.
  • Similarly, making the Delhi assembly rules consistent with the rules of the Lok Sabha or ensuring that the opinion of the LG is taken can only ensure clarity and foster an environment of co-operation.

Promoting cooperative federalism

  • The government has been promoting cooperative federalism, which is evident from the tangible steps that have been taken.
  • The creation of NITI Aayog, the establishment of the GST council, and the restructuring of central schemes are clear examples of promoting fiscal federalism.
  • Cooperative federalism requires an environment of trust and mutual cooperation.
  • A necessary condition for such an environment is the distinct delineation of roles and responsibilities, the removal of ambiguities, and the definition of a clear chain of command among stakeholders.
  • In this regard, it was important to define, without a doubt, who represents the government in the unique case of Delhi.

Consider the question “What are the objectives of the recent amendment to the NCT Act? What will be its implications for governance in Delhi?” 

Conclusion

Our national capital hosts the country’s legislature, the seat of the Union government, the judiciary, diplomatic missions, and other institutions of national importance. It deserves smooth functioning and cannot be subject to misadventures arising from the ambiguities in the roles and responsibilities of its stakeholders.

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