The president of India Ram Nath Kovind granted assent to the amendment of the controversial NCT bill on Sunday. This bill enhanced the power of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi over the elected government of GNCDT.
The central government through gazette notification announced that the president had given his approval to the NCT bill’s amendment.
On 22nd March Lok sabha passed the bill. The parliament passed the bill on the 24th of March. The opposition while showing disagreement with the said bill walked out of the house of Rajya sabha.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal while giving his remark on the bill said, “It is a sad day for Indian Democracy.”
The NCT bill declared the lieutenant governor of Delhi as the Government of Delhi. From now the opinion of L.G “shall be obtained” on all such matters as may be specified by the L.G, before taking any executive action on decisions of the Council of Ministers of the Delhi Government.
This amendment takes the power of the Delhi legislative assembly, to enable itself or its committees to do day-to-day administration. The legislative assembly cannot conduct inquiries related to administration and any rule which is made before the commencement of this act and is inconsistent with this act will be void.
Reasons given by government for this enactment.
This act is enacted to give effect to the interpretation made by the honorable Supreme court in its judgment of 4 July 2018. The division bench of the supreme court in the judgment dated 14 February 2019, has interpreted the provision of article 239 AA of the constitution related to the structure of governance in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
NCT bill seeks to ensure that the lieutenant governor is necessarily granted an opportunity to exercise the power entrusted to him under article 239 AA of the constitution.
Center while presenting the NCT bill said this act will promote harmonious relations between the executive and legislature. It also defines the responsibilities of the elected government and L.G. in line with the constitutional provisions.
Judgement of Supreme court constitution bench
Supreme court in GNCTD of Delhi vs Union of india, while describing the powers of L.G and government said, except in the matters of land, police, and matters related to land L.G is bound by the aid and advise of councils of ministers.
The Constitution Bench comprising of then 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 advise of NCT Government in areas other than those exempted“.
The Top 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 effectively and efficiently.
Supreme court held parliamentary form of government is made on the principle of “collective responsibility” of the cabinet.
The exercise of establishing a democratic and representative form of government for NCT of Delhi by insertion of Articles 239 AA and 239 AB would turn futile if the Government of Delhi that enjoys the confidence of the people of Delhi is not able to usher in policies and laws over which the Delhi Legislative Assembly has the power to legislate for the NCT of Delhi,” the order stated.
Senior advocate Abishek Manu Singhvi
He told the House that he appeared before the Supreme Court in Delhi vs LG case and will cite certain excerpts from the Constitution Bench judgment that will demonstrate that the NCT Bill in question tries to nullify the effect of that judgment.
Singhvi read the Supreme Court judgment, “The Lieutenant Governor has not been entrusted with any independent decisionmaking power. He has to either act on the ‘aid and advice of Council of Ministers or he is bound to implement the decision taken by the President on a reference being made by him.”
Singhvi stated that the NCT Bill is not only against Article 239 AA of the Constitution but is also against the Supreme Court judgment and the principles of Federalism.
MP from a constituency of Delhi, Sanjay Singh strongly opposed the NCT Bill as being unconstitutional. He referred to Article 239 AA(6) of the Constitution which states that “The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly”.