Delhi Full Statehood Issue

structural issues with legislatures in Union Territories

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 239A

Mains level : Paper 2- Structural flaws in the composition of legislature of UTs

There are structural flaws in the provisions of the composition of legislature and the relationship between the council of ministers and the Administrator in the UTs.

Pattern in the resignations of MLAs

  • Recently, the resignations of MLAs from the Puducherry Assembly led to the fall of government there.
  • The same had happened in 2019 in Karnataka.
  • Resigning from the membership of the House is every member’s right.
  • But according to Article 190 of the Constitution, the resignation should be voluntary or genuine.
  • If the Speaker has information to the contrary, he or she is not obliged to accept the resignation.
  • But there is by now a familiar pattern to the resignations of Members of the Legislative Assembly.
  • Such resignations invariably lead to the fall of the government.

Purpose of providing legislature to UTs

  • The Constitution-makers/ Parliament provided a legislature and Council of Ministers to some of the UTs to fulfil the democratic aspirations of the people of these territories.
  • There was a realisation that the administration of these territories directly by the President through the administrators under Article 239 does not meet the democratic aspirations of the people.
  • The creation of a legislature and a Council of Ministers is logical and in consonance with the policy of the state to promote democracy.

Structural issues with legislature in UTs

1) Nomination of members and issues with it

  • A closer look at the relevant provisions in the Constitution reveals that this professed aim has often been sought to be defeated by the Union.
  • Article 239A was originally brought in, in 1962, to enable Parliament to create legislatures for the UTs.
  • A legislature without a Council of Ministers or a Council of Ministers without a legislature is a conceptual absurdity.
  • Similarly, a legislature that is partly elected and partly nominated is another absurdity.
  • The issue of nomination of members to the Puducherry Assembly had raised a huge controversy.
  • The Government of Union Territories Act provides for a 33-member House for Puducherry of whom three are to be nominated by the Central government.
  • So, when the Union government nominated three BJP members to the Assembly without consulting the government, it was challenged in the court.
  • Finally, the Supreme Court (K. Lakshminarayanan v. Union of India, 2019) held that the Union government is not required to consult the State government for nominating members to the Assembly and the nominated members have the same right to vote as the elected members.
  • There is provision for nomination of members to the Rajya Sabha [Article 80 (i)(a)].
  • But clause (3) of the Article specifies the fields from which they will be nominated.
  • But in the case of nomination to the Puducherry Assembly, no such qualification is laid down either in Article 239A or the Government of Union Territories Act.
  • This leaves the field open for the Union government to nominate anyone irrespective of whether he or she is suitable.
  •  As things stand, the law invites arbitrariness in dealing with the nomination of members to the UT legislature.

2) Administrator’s powers

  • The administrator has the right to disagree with the decisions of the Council of Ministers and then refer them to the President for a final decision.
  • The President decides on the advice of the Union government.
  • So, in effect, it is the Union government which finally determines the disputed issue.
  • Although in NCT of Delhi v. Union of India (2019), the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had said that the administrator should not misuse this power.
  • The bench also said that the Administrator should use it after all methods have failed to reconcile the differences between him/her and the Council of Ministers.
  • As a matter of fact, such conflicts between the administrator, who is the nominee of the President, and the elected government is inherent in the constitutional arrangement created for the UTs.

Consider the question “The conflicts between the administrator, who is the nominee of the President and the elected government is inherent in the constitutional arrangement created for the UTs. Comment.”

Conclusion

Experience shows that the UTs having legislatures with ultimate control vested in the central administrator are not workable. So far as the conspiratorial resignation by legislators to bring down their own government is concerned, the political class will have to get the better of the predatory instincts of political parties through constitutional or other means.

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