Delhi Assembly & Lieutenant Governor
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Delhi Assembly & Lieutenant Governor

The Legislative Assembly of  Delhi was first constituted in 1952 under States Act, 1951 but was later abolished in 1956.

It was re-established after the 69th Constitution Amendment Act, 1991 came into force. This act is also known as Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act (GNCTD Act) as it declared that the Union Territory of Delhi to be formally known as National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT Delhi).

Delhi Assembly & Lieutenant Governor

It enabled the process of an elected government in Delhi.

The 69th Amendment added two new Articles 239AA and 239AB under which the Union Territory of Delhi has been given a special status.

Article 239AA provides that the administrator of NCT Delhi shall be known as Lieutenant Governor (LG).

  • It also created a legislative assembly for Delhi which can make laws on subjects under the State List and Concurrent List except on matters of: public order, land, and police.
  • It also provides for a Council of Ministers for Delhi consisting of not more than 10% of the total number of members in the assembly.

Article 239AB provides that the President may by order suspend the operation of any provision of Article 239AA or of all or any of the provisions of any law made in pursuance of that article. Like, Article 356(President’s Rule).

However, there has been conflict over power-sharing over the years between the Chief Minister and the LG.

The main source of contention in these disputes was the requirement that, in the event of a disagreement between the LG and the Council of Ministers regarding any matter, the LG refer the issue to the President for his decision, with the authority for the LG to act accordingly until such a decision was made.

Amendment of 2021

The Government of National Capital Territory (GNCT) of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, gives primacy to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) over the elected government in the city.

  • It changed the 1991 Act’s Sections 21, 24, 33, and 44.  
  • It says that the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi means the “government” in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. 
  • Even in situations where the Delhi Legislative Assembly has the authority to pass laws, it grants the LG discretionary powers. 
  • It aims to make sure that before any decision made by the Council of Ministers (or the Delhi Cabinet) is carried out, the LG is “necessarily granted an opportunity” to voice his opinion. 
  • It prohibits the Assembly or its committees from adopting regulations to address issues relating to daily administration or from conducting inquiries in administrative decisions.

What critics said?

  • This amendment significantly diminishes the Delhi government’s effectiveness and timeliness by requiring it to confer with the LG even when the situation calls for immediate action.  
  • Notably, the LG is not obliged to provide the State government with his opinion within a specific time frame. Critics claim that the LG could use these unchecked powers for political benefit by obstructing the administration’s work if he decides and can shift the political balance against the incumbent.
  • It’s against the principles of “Federalism.”

What Union Government said?

  • It is consistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling from July 2018 regarding the scope of authority for the LG and the Delhi government in the wake of several high-profile disputes between the two.  
  • Increases public accountability and removes technical ambiguities related to routine administration are two of the Act’s just objectives. 
  • This will improve the relationship between the executive and the legislators and increase Delhi’s administrative effectiveness.

In 2023, an Ordinance was promulgated by President which further expanded LG’s role, do read about it in given link. https://arjawa.com/national-capital-territory-of-delhi-amendment-ordinance-2023/

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