New Delhi: Parliament on Wednesday approved the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2021 after the Rajya Sabha passed it by a voice vote. The Lok Sabha had passed the bill on Tuesday.
Rebutting the allegations by members of the Opposition parties, point by point, minister of state for home G. Kishan Reddy asserted the bill does not infringe on the powers vested in the government of the NCT by the Constitution or any article of the Constitution but to clear ambiguities and bring clarity to the powers of the lieutenant-governor and the NCT government as vested by the Constitution, and the bill was to clear the ambiguities in the bill brought by the Congress government in 1991. Mr Reddy also cited some Supreme Court rulings regarding the powers of the lieutenant-governor to counter the allegations by the Opposition parties’ MPs. Mr Reddy also hit back at the Opposition, in particular the Congress, over the “murder of democracy” slogans, reminding them of the Emergency era, and said the BJP-led NDA government had never used Article 356 to oust a state government like the previous Congress-led Central governments had done on various occasions.
The bill seeks to enhance and give clarity to the powers of the L-G, which the minister said do not contradict the powers and responsibilities of the L-G as vested by the Constitution.
“I would like to tell the people of Delhi and the whole country that we have full belief in the Constitution. We did not bring this bill to create problems for the Delhi government… I request every member to support the bill unequivocally,” said Mr Reddy ahead of voting on consideration of the motion to pass the bill, as demanded by the Opposition, before the bill was passed by a voice vote. Some other Opposition parties, including the Congress, also staged a walkout.
Earlier, the Upper House saw an uproar and sloganeering as it took up the bill, which was opposed by some non-NDA parties like the BJD and the YSRCP, who on various occasions had supported the BJP-led NDA government. The BJD and YSRCP staged a walkout from the House. The Trinamul Congress, DMK and CPI(M) registered their opposition to the bill and demanded that it should be sent to a select committee.
As the government moved the bill for consideration and passing, AAP MP Sanjay Singh, whose party is running the Delhi government, said while participating in the debate: “I seek justice for the two crore people of Delhi, for 130 crore Indians, to seek justice from all members to save the Constitution. I tell all members… we will be here only if the Constitution is there.”
Opposing the bill, Congress’ Rajya Sabha leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the bill must be sent to a select committee. Mr Reddy assured the House the bill seeks to ensure proper functioning of the Delhi government. “We are making amendments to the law brought in by the Congress… These are not new,” the minister said.
The Opposition MPs claimed that if the amendments were passed, the mandate of the people will become meaningless. Congress’ Abhishek “Manu” Singhvi said that the amendments in the bill were not about the AAP or the Congress, but actually hit out at the root of federalism.
While staging a walkout, BJD MP Prasanna Acharya said: “The NCT Bill undermines the power of the elected government. It is not going to help cooperative federalism in the country. Hence, we have decided not to be a party in the passing of this bill. We have decided to respectfully walk out of the House.”