June 18, 2021
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President Ram Nath Kovind Clears GNCTD Bill

It is now up to the Union Home Ministry to declare when the law will be enacted.

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President Ram Nath Kovind Clears GNCTD Bill
President Ram Nath Kovind
President Ram Nath Kovind Clears GNCTD Bill

President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday cleared the controversial Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Bill, thus making it a law.

It is now up to the Union Home Ministry to declare when will the law be enacted.

The central government announced the presidential assent to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 through a gazette notification.

The bill was passed by the president from the hospital where he is expected to undergo a bypass surgery on Tuesday.

According to the legislation, the "government" in Delhi means the "Lieutenant Governor" and the city government will now have to seek the opinion of the L-G before taking any executive action.

Union Minister G Kishan Reddy had said the amendments would lead to transparency and clarity in governance in NCT of Delhi and enhance public accountability.

Explaining the rationale behind the bill, he said the amendments have been brought to remove ambiguities in the existing Act.

He stressed that changes in the law have been sought in the spirit of what has been said in a Supreme Court judgment.

Reddy said there was no political angle and the amendments are on "technical" grounds.

"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," he had said.

The GNCTD bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha amid vehement protests by the Opposition on March 24.  

Soon after the Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said it marked a “sad day for Indian democracy”.

After the bill was passed by Rajya Sabha, Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia had tweeted, "Today is the dark day for democracy. The rights of the government elected by the people of Delhi have been snatched and handed over to LG. It is unfortunate that Parliament has been chosen for the murder of democracy, which is the temple of our democracy. The people of Delhi will fight against this dictatorship #BJPFearsKejriwal."

The Aam Aadmi Party has said that it will approach the Supreme Court to challenge the Centre's move.

The Bill equates the Delhi “government” with the Delhi Lt Governor. The bill also makes it mandatory for the Delhi government to take the opinion of the L-G before any executive action.

The party claims that the bill would stall Delhi's progress by giving undue powers to the lieutenant governor.

The GNCTD bill states that the Delhi legislative Assembly will not make any rule to enable itself or its committees to consider the matters of the day-to-day administration of the national capital or conduct inquiries in relation to the administrative decisions.

Various political leaders across parties have criticised the GNCTD bill for being against the rights of states. 

Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted, "Govt of NCT of Delhi (Amd) Bill is an affront to our federal principles and rights of States. Restriction of constitutional authority of democratically elected State Govts and violation of Supreme Court's verdicts, should be resisted. BJP has colonial a mindset".

Several legal luminaries and votaries of federalism – have unanimously dubbed the amended law as unconstitutional. Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party claims the BJP-led central government has brought the new law out of vengeance as the saffron party lost three consecutive assembly polls in Delhi to AAP.

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