Consent by President for a bill that puts Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor in primal position to the elected government
On Sunday President of India Ram Nath Kovind gave his concurrence to the bill that underlines the primal position of Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor over the elected government in the state. The announcement was made through a gazette notification. The bill is titled Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
The bill which has now been sanctioned by the President establishes that “government” in Delhi means “Lieutenant Governor”. Furthermore, the elected government of the capital would require approval of the L-G before passing any executive decision. The bill has already been passed by Parliament. Lok Sabha passed the bill on March 22 while Rajya Sabha passed the bill on March 24.
In an evident blow to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, he called bill passing in Parliament “a sad day for Indian democracy”.
Presenting an argument, Union Minister G Kishan Reddy said that this bill would bring in more transparency in governance in the capital and also boost accountability. The amendments in bill are said to solve the ambiguities present in the Act already in existence.
Rejecting any political agenda to the bill, Mr. Reddy said, “The proposed bill does not curtail in any manner any of the powers enjoyed by the government of NCT Delhi which are already provided in the Constitution.”
The arguments by CM Kejriwal do have a valid point – he and his government were elected by roughly 2 million people of Delhi. But giving Central government precedence over elected government raises a big question on the true essence of democracy.
The debate is global and faced by all countries. How to govern a Capital? It is not a state or inside a state. Moreover, a federal or central government cannot possibly be under the state government. In India, establishing Delhi takes a lot of investment by the central government. The bill, thus, eventually makes sense.