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Lok Sabha clears Centre’s Delhi Bill clipping Kejriwal’s powers

In a setback to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government, a bill that gives the Centre more power over Delhi moved a step closer to becoming law on Monday. The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has been passed in the Lok Sabha, after a reply to the debate by Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy, and will now be taken up in the Rajya Sabha.

The bill seeks to clarify the expression “Government”, which in the context of legislation to be passed by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi, shall mean the Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, consistent with the status of Delhi as a Union Territory to address the ambiguities in the interpretation of the legislative provisions.

It states that the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 was enacted to supplement the provisions of the Constitution relating to the Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers for the National Capital Territory of Delhi. Section 44 of the Act deals with the conduct of business and “there is no structural mechanism provided in the Act for effective time-bound implementation of the section”. “Further, there is no clarity as to what proposal or matters are required to be submitted to Lieutenant Governor,” it said.

The government claimed that the Bill would “further define” the responsibilities of the elected government and the Lieutenant Governor “in line with the constitutional scheme of governance… as interpreted by the Supreme Court.”

It was brought in the Parliament last week, three years after a constitution bench of the Supreme Court ruled on the dispute between Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and the Lieutenant Governor.

Kejriwal called the development an “insult” to the people of Delhi. “The passage of the GNCTD amendment Bill in Lok Sabha today is an insult to the people of Delhi. The Bill effectively takes away powers from those who were voted by people and gives powers to run Delhi to those who were defeated. BJP has cheated the people,” tweeted the Delhi Chief Minister.

Arvind Kejriwal, whose party, AAP, won 62 of 70 seats in the 2020 Delhi election, leaving only three for the BJP and none for the Congress, has often accused the BJP of trying to rule Delhi by proxy through the Lieutenant Governor, and scuttling most of his plans and decisions.

 

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