In Setback for Kejriwal, Delhi NCT Bill Gets President’s Assent

The NCT bill was passed amid raging controversy in the Lok Sabha on 22 March.

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President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to pass the NCT Bill on Sunday, 28 March. 

President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday, 28 March, has given his assent to passing the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that accords primacy to Delhi's Lieutenant Governor over the elected Arvind Kejriwal government, reported PTI.

The NCT bill was passed amid raging controversy in the Lok Sabha on 22 March. It was moved by the Centre on 15 March wherein it proposed that the government in the national capital territory of Delhi means the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.

The Union Home Ministry will declare when the bill will come into effect, reported NDTV.

The bill gives discretionary powers to the L-G even in matters where the Legislative Assembly of Delhi is empowered to make laws.

The proposed legislation also seeks to ensure that the Lieutenant Governor is necessarily granted an opportunity to give their opinion before any decision taken by the Council of Ministers or the Delhi Cabinet is implemented.

Huge Setback for Kejriwal

This comes as a setback for the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government, which has vehemently opposed the bill.

The Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government has on many occasions challenged the NDA-ruled Central government regarding administrative matters in the capital. The bill proposes to amend Sections 21, 24, 33, and 44 of the 1991 Act.

Reacting to the proposed Amendment, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had said: “This bill goes against what the Supreme Court Constitution Bench order had stated. If this is what the Centre wants to do, what is the point of holding elections and there being an elected government in the state? Why does the Centre pretend to be democratic?”

Chief Minister Kejriwal had asked, “what will elected government do” if all executive decisions have to be approved by the Lieutenant Governor, who, if the amendments are cleared, shall denote the government?

What Happened in LS?

The Centre had earlier said the government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has been introduced to end ambiguity in running the affairs of the national capital.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said that since there have been cases of ambiguity in certain issues related to the functioning of the Delhi government, this bill had become necessary. "Please do not say that it is a political bill. It is being brought to end ambiguity in certain issues, as Delhi is a union territory. It will end certain confusion or technicality and enhance the efficiency of the administration," he was quoted as saying by PTI.

Reddy further said that since 2015, some issues have come up between the Central and Delhi government and cases regarding the same were filed before the Delhi High Court, which also gave certain rulings. He also said that the court had also ruled that the L-G should be informed on executive issues of the city government.

Meanwhile, the Congress called the bill "unconstitutional" and said that it takes away certain rights, which were given to the city government under a Constitutional amendment.

While initiating a debate in the Upper House on the bill, Congress MP Manish Tewari said that it would prevent the city government from implementing the decisions taken by the Legislative Assembly. "How can you divorce a decision from its implementation?" he asked.

He also said that the idea of the bill is contrary to what the then Union Home Minister L K Advani had presented some 18 years ago.

However, BJP's Meenakashi Lekhi, who represents the New Delhi seat in Lok Sabha, said that the bill seeks to rectify the alleged mismanagement of Delhi. “The Constitution is not federal but quasi-federal in nature where the Centre's say cannot be ignored,” she was quoted as saying by PTI.

(With inputs from PTI and NDTV)

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