The Delhi High Court today issued notice in a petition challenging the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh sought response from Central government on the plea.
The challenge has been mounted by a law student, Srikant Prasad (petitioner), by way of a public interest litigation.
As per the petitioner, the GNCTD (Amendment Act) 2021 is in violation of Articles 13, 14 19 and 239AA of the Constitution of India.
The Act which redefines “Government” as the “Lieutenant Governor” for Delhi came into force from April 27.
The Amendment Act makes changes to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 (Act) and enhances the powers of the Lieutenant Governor while limiting the elected government’s powers in some respects.
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 statement of objects of the Act states that it seeks to ensure that the Lieutenant Governor is necessarily granted an opportunity to exercise the power entrusted to him under proviso to clause (4) of Article 239AA of the Constitution, in a select category of cases. It may be noted that Article 239AA deals with special provisions that are applicable to the National Capital Territory of Delhi and which would govern its functioning.
The matter would be heard next on June 4.
Highlights of the Act are given below:
The following is sought to be added to Section 21 i.e. : “The expression ‘Government’ referred to in any law to be made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the Lieutenant Governor.“
Section 3 of the Bill seeks to extend the powers of the Lieutenant Governor through an amendment of Section 24 of the 1991 Act, which deals with “Assent to bills.”
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. Notably, this provision is also sought to be made retrospective in its effect.
Section 5 of the bill seeks to add a proviso to Section 44 of the 1991 Act (dealing with ‘conduct of business’), which makes it compulsory for the government to obtain the opinion of the Lieutenant Governor on all matters, before taking any ‘executive action‘.