A proposed law that gives the centre more power over Delhi today moved one step closer to becoming law, in a setback to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government. The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has been passed in the Lok Sabha.
The Bill gives more powers to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, who represents the centre, compared to the city’s elected government.
The Bill has been set in motion despite a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court’s decision in 2018 on a dispute between Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and the BJP at the centre.
The government claimed that the Bill would “further define” the responsibilities of the elected government and the Lieutenant Governor in keeping with the constitution.
Arvind Kejriwal, whose AAP won 67 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 decisions.
The new Bill makes it clear that the term “government” in any law made by the Legislative Assembly will mean the Lieutenant Governor, whose opinion has to be taken before the Delhi government takes any action.
In 2018, a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court had held that the Lieutenant Governor’s concurrence is not required on issues other than police, public order and land. But it said decisions have to be communicated to the Lieutenant Governor.
“The status of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is not that of a Governor of a State, rather he remains an administrator, in a limited sense, working with the designation of Lieutenant Governor,” the bench had said.