Delhi Full Statehood Issue

How the GNCTD (Amendment) Act affects functioning of Delhi Assembly

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 239AA and 239AB

Mains level : Paper 2- Effect of GNCTD (Amendment) Act on functioning of Delhi Assembly

The article highlights the implications of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD)(Amendment) Act, 2021 on functioning of Assembly and its committees.

Context

The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD)(Amendment) Act, 2021 has been criticised as a retrograde law. However, what deserves equal attention is the Act’s assault on the functioning of Delhi’s Legislative Assembly.

Background of GNCTD Act

  • The GNCTD Act was enacted in 1992.
  • Under the Act, Delhi Legislative Assembly was given the power to regulate its own procedure, as well as the conduct of its business.
  • This sought to realise a delicate balance reflecting Delhi’s unique constitutional position: neither full state nor a centrally governed Union Territory.

How amendment affects functioning of Assembly

  • Its standards of procedure and conduct of business have been firmly tethered to that of the Lok Sabha, depriving Delhi’s elected MLAs of an effective say in how their Assembly should be run.
  • The Amending Act prohibits the Assembly from making any rule enabling either itself or its committees to consider any issue concerned with “the day-to-day administration of the capital” or “conduct inquiries in relation to administrative decisions”.
  • The most significant impact of this shall be on the exercise of free speech in the Assembly and its committees.
  • The amendment impeded the Assembly from performing its most basic legislative function — that of holding the executive to account by restricting its ability to freely discuss matters happening in the capital.

Impact on committees

  • The deliberations and inputs of committees often pave the way for intelligent legislative action.
  • In a way, they act as the eyes and ears for the whole House, which has neither the time nor the expertise to scrutinise issues in depth.
  • It would be impossible for committees to perform this function without the power to conduct inquiries.
  • Pre-emptively injunct a committee from conducting an inquiry “in relation to the administrative decisions” (an extremely broad exception) completely negates the ability of committees to function effectively as the Assembly’s advisors and agents.
  • The quality of legislative work emanating from the Assembly is thus ultimately bound to suffer.

Consider the question “What are the reasons for frequent disputes between Delhi government and the Lt. Governor? Would the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD)(Amendment) Act, 2021 succeed in ending that trend?” 

Conclusion

The amendment deprive the Delhi Assmbly of its very basic functions and render it a ‘legislature’ in name only. Surely, Delhi’s voters deserve better than that. The Government need to reconsider the provisions of the amendment act.

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