New Delhi: Parliamentarians in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament. (RSTV/PTI)
The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday approved the bill giving primacy to Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor (L-G) over the elected government after high drama in the House that saw uproar by the Opposition and a walkout by MPs of parties like the BJD, SP, Congress and the YSR-Congress.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that seeks to make it clear that the “government” in Delhi means the “Lieutenant Governor” was passed by Lok Sabha on March 22.
The legislation was passed in Rajya Sabha by a voice vote on Wednesday. However, a division was sought by the opposition when the government moved the bill for consideration. During voting, 83 members were in favour while 45 opposed the bill. Just before the passage of the bill, Congress too walked out.
RS passes GNCTD amendment Bill. Sad day for Indian democracy
We will continue our struggle to restore power back to people.
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— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 24, 2021
Earlier, Rajya Sabha witnessed uproar by opposition members who termed the bill as “unconstitutional” and demanded that it be sent to a Select Committee for scrutiny. The upper house also witnessed two brief adjournments. The members of the BJD, SP and the YSR-Congress also walked out of the House.
Replying to the debate, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy sought to dispel the concerns of the opposition members saying the amendments in the Act would create a sound government mechanism in the NCT of Delhi.
AAP MP Sanjay Singh during the debate on NCT Bill in Rajya Sabha. (ANI)
He said it will improve equity and inclusiveness. The amendment will lead to transparency and clarity in governance in NCT Delhi and enhance public accountability, he added.
Explaining the rationale behind the bill, he said the amendments have been brought to remove ambiguities in the 1991 Act. He stressed that changes in the law have been sought in the spirit of what has been said in the Supreme Court judgement. He asserted there was no political angle and the amendments are on “technical” grounds.
According to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, the original bill was enacted to supplement the provisions of the Constitution relating to the legislative assembly and a Council of Ministers for Delhi and for matters connected therewith.
It said that to give effect to the interpretation made by the Supreme Court which had ruled that the city government need not obtain the Lieutenant Governor’s “concurrence” of every issue of day-to-day governance, the bill has been brought.
“The said bill will promote harmonious relations between the legislature and the executive, and further define the responsibilities of the elected government and the L-G, in line with the constitutional scheme of governance of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, as interpreted by the Supreme Court,” the statement of objects said.