The Delhi government has moved the Supreme Court, challenging the Centre’s amendments to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Act, contending that the new changes go against representative democracy.
“The provisions inserted by the Amendment Act violate the principles of federalism, separation of powers, representative democracy, and the rule of law, which are essential features of the Constitution. Therefore, the Amendment Act violates the ‘Basic Structure’ of the Constitution,” the petition states.
Passed in March this year, the amendment act was opposed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government that alleged that it gave greater power to Lt Governor as the Delhi government will have to seek his permission before any executive action.
The Delhi government, in its petition, has challenged the constitutionality of four sections, namely Sections 21, 24, 33, 44 of the Act and Rules 3, 6A, 10, 14, 15, 19, 22, 23, 25, 47A, 49, 52 and 57 of Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993, stating that they violated the doctrine of basic structure of the Constitution by going against its Section 239-AA and the constitutional bench order.
It argued that the amendments by the Centre are an attempt to treat the Lt Governor as the “default administering authority over the NCT of Delhi”, by equating the position with that of the “government”, by authorising the Lt Governor to withhold consent from bills that, in his judgment, may be “incidentally” outside the scope of Assembly’s legislative powers, and by empowering the official to interfere in the day-to-day administration of the Delhi government by introducing the requirement of obtaining the Lt Governor’s views before executing a decision of the Council of Ministers.
It has been further stated that the new laws encroach on the scope of the Delhi Assembly’s core legislative functions by interfering with the power of the Assembly to frame its own rules of business or to hold the government to account, a core function of any legislature.
According to the Delhi government, the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Amendment Rules dilutes and divests the executive powers of the elected government of Delhi by transferring the powers to the Lt Governor and the Secretaries in the Delhi Government in derogation of representative form of government as envisaged under Article 239-AA of the Constitution.
A rift between Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal and the AAP government arose over powers, duties, and governance. This matter was then taken to court, wherein a Constitutional Bench of the apex court held that the Council of Ministers shall inform all its decisions to the Lt Governor but that does not mean that the concurrence of the Lt Governor is required. While the GNCTD Act Amendment Bill was introduced in March, he Transaction of Business of Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act came into force in July.