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Centre notifies GNCTD Amendment Act: Delhi’s LG is Now the ‘Govt.’ of National Capital [READ BILL]

The GNCTD Amendment Act, 2021 reformulated “Government” as the “Lieutenant Governor” for Delhi and  limited the elected government’s rule-making powers in Regular administrative affairs which has come into force from April 27

By: Surbhi Kumari, Amity University, Patna

The notification was published in the official gazette by the Central government. The law gives broad powers to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi by declaring him to be the “Government of Delhi.” It also provides that the opinion of the LG “shall be obtained” on all such matters as may be specified by the LG, before taking any executive action on decisions of the Council of Ministers of the Delhi Government. The Amendment Act was passed by the Parliament in March 2021.

Salient Features of the act

The Amendment Act changes the GNCTD, Act,1991 and enhances the powers of the Lieutenant Governor while limiting the elected government’s power and provides framework for functioning of the Delhi Legislative Assembly. It curbs the Delhi Assembly’s power to conduct its proceedings.
The Bill also prohibits the Legislative Assembly from making any rule to enable itself or its Committees to: 

  • Consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the NCT of Delhi
  • Conduct any inquiry in relation to administrative decisions.

The Bill says that the Government has to seek the Lieutenant Governor’s opinion on the matters so specified by him which may be contrasted with the observations made by the Supreme Court in GNCT of Delhi v. Union of India & Anr.

In this case, the SC held that the LG cannot interfere in every decision of the Delhi Government, and the LG is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers of the Delhi Government, except in matters of land, police and public order. 

The Constitution Bench comprising CJI Dipak Misra, Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan had ruled that “LG is an administrative head in the limited sense, and is not a Governor. He is bound by the aid and advice of the NCT Government in areas other than those exempted.” The Court had observed that the elected representatives and the Council of Ministers of Delhi, being accountable to the voters of Delhi, must have the appropriate powers so as to perform their functions.
The Central government stated that this amendment was brought to give effect to the interpretation made by Hon’ble Supreme Court in Government of NCT of Delhi v. Union of India.

The Act states that the Lieutenant Governor is necessarily granted an opportunity to exercise the power entrusted to him under clause (4) of Article 239AA of the Constitution, in a selected category of cases. Article 239AA deals with special provisions that are applicable to the National Capital Territory of Delhi, which would govern its functioning.

It also states that the Act will promote harmonious relations between the legislature and the executive and further defines the responsibilities of the elected Government and the Lieutenant Governor, in line with the constitutional scheme of governance of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Some important sections are as follows:

Section 2: “The expression ‘Government’ referred to in any law to be made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the Lieutenant Governor.

Section 3: Extend the powers of the Lieutenant Governor through an amendment of Section 24 of the 1991 Act, which deals with “Assent to bills.”

 Section 5: Deals with ‘conduct of business’, which says that the government has to obtain the opinion of the Lieutenant Governor on all matters, before taking any ‘executive action’.

Changes are sought to be brought to Section 33 of the 1991 Act so that the Legislative assembly cannot make any rule to enable itself or its committee to consider in matters of the day-to-day administration of Delhi or conduct inquiries in relation to administration.

Thus, as per the new law, “government” means the LG. The government will have to take permission from the LG before taking any action like anti-corruption, education, health, social welfare, tourism, central jail, excise, etc. and further, the LG needs to be informed of all the decisions that are made by the Council of Ministers.

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