From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Article 239AA
Mains level : Centre vs. Delhi Govt
New Delhi has been at the flashpoint of innumerable power struggles these days.
Why in news?
- In the absence of statehood for Delhi, there has been a prolonged confrontation on the relative powers of the territorial administration and the Union government.
Dilemmas of Dual Governance
- Article 239AA of the Constitution of India granted Special Status to Delhi among Union Territories (UTs) in the year 1991 through the 69th constitutional amendment.
- It provided a Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers responsible to such Assembly with appropriate powers.
- That’s when Delhi was named as the National Capital Region (NCT) of Delhi.
- As per this article – Public Order, Police & Land in NCT of Delhi fall within the domain and control of Central Government which shall have the power to make laws on these matters.
- For remaining matters of State List or Concurrent List, in so far as any such matter is applicable to UTs, the Legislative Assembly shall have the power to make laws for NCT of Delhi
[a] Centre-State Dispute
- Delhi was given a fully elected legislative assembly and a responsible government through an amendment in the constitution in 1991.
- Since 1991, Delhi had been made a UT with an assembly with “limited legislative powers”.
- Cordial relations have prevailed between the Central and Delhi governments since 1996 and all differences have been resolved through discussions – with a few exceptions.
[b] Lt. Governor vs the CM
- The Article 239AA while conferring on the assembly the power to legislate on all matters in the state list as well as the concurrent list except land, police and public order – contained one sore point.
- It said that in case of a difference between the L-G and the council of ministers, the matter shall be referred to the president by the LG for his decision and pending such decision the LG can take any action on the matter as he thinks fit.
- It is this issue that the constitution bench of the Supreme Court resolved in 2018, when it said that the government does not have to seek the concurrence of the L-G on its decisions.
- Any differences between them should be resolved to keep in view the constitutional primacy of representative government and co-operative federalism.
It is after this judgement, the Centre brought up this Bill.
[c] NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021
- Among the major proposed amendments, one makes it explicitly clear that the term “government” in any law made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the L-G.
- This, essentially, gives effect to the former L-G 2015 assertion that “Government means the Lieutenant Governor of the NCT of Delhi appointed by the President under Article 239 and designated as such under Article 239 AA of the Constitution”.
- The Bill adds that the L-G’s opinion shall be obtained before the government takes any executive action based on decisions taken by the Cabinet or any individual minister.