GNCT Act 1991 and its Amendment in 2021 by Krishna Sreeja @lexcliq

Introduction:

Delhi, officially called as the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, is a city and a union territory of India containing New Delhi, the capital of India. Although a union territory, the political administration of the NCT of Delhi today more closely resembles that of a state of India, with its own legislature, high court and an executive council of ministers headed by a Chief Minister.

The States Reorganisation Act, 1956 created the Union Territory of Delhi from its predecessor, the Chief Commissioner’s Province of Delhi. The Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991 declared the Union Territory of Delhi to be formally known as the National Capital Territory of Delhi.Delhi has its own Legislative Assembly, Lieutenant Governor, the council of ministers, and Chief Minister. But the legislative assembly was demolished in 1956 and after the demolition, federal control was implemented in Delhi, until 1993. In 1993, the Legislative Assembly of Delhi was established.

An Act was enacted to supplement the provisions of the Constitution relating to the Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers for the National Capital Territory of Delhi and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Act mentioned above is ‘Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991’.

Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991:

The act outlines important provisions such as:

  • the powers of the Assembly
  • the discretionary powers enjoyed by the Lieutenant Governor.
  • duties of the Chief Minister with respect to the need to furnish information to the Lieutenant Governor.

It also brought in a provision from the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963, namely, that in case of a difference between the LG and the council of ministers on any matter, it shall be referred to the President by the LG for his/her decision and pending such decision, the LG can take any action on the matter as he/she deems appropriate. Although the constitution bench of the Supreme Court has held that the government does not have to seek the concurrence of the LG on its decisions and that any differences between them should be resolved keeping in view the constitutional primacy of representative government and cooperative federalism, the state government is under constant threat from the LG’s power to differ with the government on important issues.

In 2021, some amendments were made to the this act and parliament enacted the Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021.

Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021 :

The main amendments under this act are as follows:

  • The term ‘government’ mentioned in any law enacted by the legislative assembly of Delhi shall mean the LG. The Act defines ‘government’ as the LG.
  • The Act provides discretionary powers to the LG even in matters where the Legislative Assembly is empowered to make laws.
  • An additional clause added to Section 44 of the 1991 Act makes it mandatory for the government to obtain the opinion of the LG on all matters before any executive action can be taken, ensuring accountability. This means that the state government or cabinet would need to seek the LG’s opinion before implementing any decision.
  • The amendment also says that the “Legislative Assembly shall not make any rule to enable itself to consider the matters of the day-to-day administration of the Capital or conduct inquiries in relation to the administrative decisions”.

This Act was widely criticized by the opposition parties. Especially, the ruling part in Delhi, Aam Adhmi Party, criticized this act as it collapsed the federal provisions in Delhi by limiting the elected government powers.

 

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