- Cabinet okays Bill on powers of Delhi L-G
- Centenary of the Chauri Chaura Incident
CABINET OKAYS BILL ON POWERS OF DELHI L-G
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is all set to introduce a legislation in the budget session of Parliament on 2021, to amend a 1991 Act pertaining to the powers and functions of the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor (LG).
GS-II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Who is a Lieutenant governor?
- What are the differences between Governor and Lieutenant Governor?
- Recent bill regarding Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991
- NCT of Delhi vs. Union of India (2018)
- NCT of Delhi vs. Union of India: Issues and possible solutions
- How is it back to square one?
- Can routine administrative matters be referred to the president?
- Matters of jurisdiction
- The last word
Who is a Lieutenant governor?
- In India, a lieutenant governor is in charge of a union territory (including National Capital Territory NCT of Delhi) in a similar manner as the Governors of the states of India.
- The rank of lieutenant governor is present only in the union territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Puducherry.
- The other territories have an administrator appointed, who is usually an IAS officer or a retired judge of a court. However, the governor of Punjab acts as the administrator of Chandigarh.
- The governors and lieutenant governors are appointed by the president for a term of five years.
What are the differences between Governor and Lieutenant Governor?
|Governor is appointed under Article 153.||As per Article 239, every UT in India shall be administered by the President, through an administrator to be appointed by him. This position is called Lieutenant Governor in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puducherry and Delhi.|
|Governor is constitutional head of the states.||Lt. Governor is an administrator and not a constitutional head of the Union Territories.|
|Article 153- 167 of Indian constitution deals with state executive (Gov+CM+Council of Ministers+Advocate general of the states).||Article 239 to 241 deal with UTs|
|States have their own government.||UTs are directly governed by Union.|
|Governors works as per the advice of the Council of ministers.||In this regard, the Supreme court in 2017 said that Lt. Governor of Delhi has more power than Governor of any state. He doesn’t have to listen to the Council of Ministers.|
|The governor acts as the nominal head whereas the real power lies with the Chief ministers of the states and his/her councils of ministers.||In union territories, the real power lies with the lieutenant governor or administrator, except in NCT of Delhi and Puducherry where he/she shares power with a council of ministers headed by a chief minister.|
Recent bill regarding Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991
- The Bill is likely to clearly define the powers of the LG and the Delhi government on the lines of the Supreme Court judgment of 2019 and also likely to give more teeth to the LG’s office.
- A Supreme Court in the 2019 verdict, the court upheld the MHA’s 2015 notifications authorising the LG to exercise powers in relation to services and directing the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) police not to take cognisance of offences against Central government officials as “legal”.
SC confirms HC findings
- The apex court confirmed the Delhi High Court’s finding that the ACB’s jurisdiction is confined to Delhi officials and statutory bodies and does not extend to Central government officials.
- In 2019, the MHA notified the rules for the newly created Union Territory of J&K, where it said that in case of difference of opinion between the LG and a Minister when no agreement could be reached even after a month, the “decision of the Lieutenant Governor shall be deemed to have been accepted by the Council of Ministers.”
NCT of Delhi vs. Union of India (2018)
- The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Government of NCT of Delhi vs. Union of India (2018) said: “The exercise of establishing a democratic and representative form of government for NCT of Delhi by insertion of Articles 239AA and 239AB would turn futile if the Government of Delhi that enjoys the confidence of the people of Delhi is not able to usher in policies and laws over which the Delhi Legislative Assembly has powers to legislate for the NCT of Delhi.”
NCT of Delhi vs. Union of India: Issues and possible solutions
- The judgment enunciates lofty principles concerning constitutional morality, co-operative federalism, constitutional conscience, pragmatic federalism, etc.
- It tells the State government that it should remember that Delhi is a special category Union Territory and lays down the parameters to enabling the harmonious functioning of the government and the Lt. Governor.
- The Supreme Court has settled the law in regard to the ‘aid and advice’ of the Council of Ministers by affirming that the Lt. Governor is BOUND TO ACT ON THE AID AND ADVICE EXCEPT IN RESPECT OF ‘LAND’, ‘PUBLIC ORDER’ AND THE ‘POLICE’.
- The Court has also made it clear that there is no requirement of the concurrence of the Lt. Governor and that he has NO power to overrule the decisions of the State government.
- In the operationalisation of Article 239AA (4) (proviso) which says that in the case of a difference of opinion between the Lt. Governor and his Ministers on any matter, the Lt. Governor shall refer it to the President for decision and act according to that decision (and “President’s decision” in reality means the decision of the Union Government).
- In the meantime, if the Lt. Governor thinks that the matter is urgent, he can take immediate action on his own – (bringing the matter back to square one).
How is it back to square one?
If a Lt. Governor, for example, wants to frustrate the efforts of the government, he can declare that there is a difference of opinion on any issue decided by the elected government and refer it to the President which in reality means the Union Home Ministry, and the Lt. Governor being its representative, it is easier for him to secure a decision in his favour.
- The recent appointment of prosecutors for conducting the Delhi riot cases in the High Court is a case in point.
- As per the High Court and the Supreme Court, the appointment of prosecutors is exclusively within the purview of the State government.
- When the government decided to appoint them, the Lt. Governor referred it under proviso to Article 239AA (4) to the President stating that there is a difference of opinion between him and the government over this matter.
- In the meantime, the Lt. Governor appointed all the prosecutors whose names were submitted by the Delhi Police and thus the State government’s list was rejected.
Can routine administrative matters be referred to the president?
A close reading of the Supreme Court judgment in the NCT Delhi case (supra) would reveal that the governor cannot refer routine administrative matters on account of “difference in views” as the Supreme Court says:
- “The words ‘any matter’ employed in the proviso to Article 239AA (4) cannot be inferred to mean ‘every matter’.”
- “The power of the Lieutenant Governor under the said proviso represents the exception and not the general rule which has to be exercised in exceptional circumstances by the Lt. Governor.”
- “Keeping in mind the standards of Constitutional trust and morality, the principles of collaborative federalism and the concept of Constitutional balance.”
- “The Lieutenant Governor should not act in a mechanical manner without due application of mind so as to refer every decision of the Council of Ministers to the President.”
Matters of jurisdiction
- There is another point which emerges from the judgment and attention needs to be paid to it – the executive power of the Union does not extend to any of the matters which come within the jurisdiction of the Delhi Assembly.
- Parliament can legislate for Delhi on any matter in the State List and the Concurrent List but the executive power in relation to Delhi except the ‘Police’, ‘Land’ and ‘Public Orders’ vests only in the State government headed by the Chief Minister.
- The Supreme Court says, “Article 239AA (3)(a) reserves the Parliament’s legislative power on all matters in the State List and Concurrent List but clause (4) explicitly grants to the Government of Delhi executive powers in relation to matters for which the Legislative Assembly has powers to legislate.”
- The only occasion when the Union Government can overrule the decision of the State government is when the Lt. Governor refers a matter to the President under the proviso to clause (4). But this proviso cannot totally override the executive decisions of the State government under clause (4).
- The judgment of the Supreme Court resolves this apparent contradiction by enjoining the Lt. Governor to keep in mind while making a reference to the President the constitutional morality, principles of collaborative federalism, concept of constitutional governance, objectivity, etc.
The last word
- Supreme Court gives wise advice to the Lt. Governor: “We may reiterate that the Constitutional scheme adopted for the NCT of Delhi conceives of the Council of Ministers as the representatives of the people on the one hand and the Lt. Governor as the nominee of the President on the other who are required to function in harmony within the Constitutional parameters.”
- “In the said scheme of things, the Lt. Governor should not emerge as an adversary having a hostile attitude towards the Council of Ministers of Delhi; rather, he should act as a facilitator.”
-Source: The Hindu
CENTENARY OF THE CHAURI CHAURA INCIDENT
The centenary celebrations of the historic Chauri Chaura incident, a landmark event in the country’s fight for Independence was held on February 4th.
Dimensions of the Article:
- Chauri Chaura Incident
- Launch of the Non-Cooperation Movement
- Justification for the Suspension of the Movement
- Immediate Result
Chauri Chaura Incident
- On 4th February, volunteers congregated in the town, and after the meeting, proceeded in a procession to the local police station, and to picket the nearby Mundera bazaar.
- The police fired into the crowd killing some people and injuring many volunteers.
- In retaliation, the crowd proceeded to set the police station on fire.
- Some of the policemen who tried to escape were caught and battered to death. A lot of police property, including weapons, was destroyed.
- The British Raj prosecuted the accused aggressively. A sessions court quickly sentenced 172 of the 225 accused to death. However, ultimately, only 19 of those convicted were hanged.
- Mahatma Gandhi condemned the crime of the policemen’s killing. The volunteer groups in nearby villages were disbanded, and a Chauri Chaura Support Fund was set up to demonstrate “genuine sympathy” and seek atonement.
- Gandhi decided to stop the Non-Cooperation Movement, which he saw as having been tainted by unforgivable violence. He bent the Congress Working Committee to his will, and on 12th February, 1922, the satyagraha (movement) was formally suspended.
- Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders leading the Non-Cooperation movement were shocked that Gandhiji had stopped the struggle when the civil resistance had consolidated their position in the freedom movement.
- Other leaders like Motilal Nehru and CR Das recorded their dismay at Gandhi’s decision and decided to establish the Swaraj Party.
Launch of the Non-Cooperation Movement
- On 1st August, 1920, Gandhi had launched the Non-Cooperation Movement against the government.
- It involved using swadeshi and boycott of foreign goods, especially machine made cloth, and legal, educational and administrative institutions, “refusing to assist a ruler who misrules”.
- In the winter of 1921-22, volunteers of the Congress and the Khilafat Movement were organised into a national volunteer corps.
- Khilafat Movement was a pan-Islamic force in India that arose in 1919 in an effort to salvage the Ottoman caliph as a symbol of unity among the Muslim community in India during the British raj.
- The Congress supported the movement and Mahatma Gandhi sought to conjoin it to the Non-Cooperation Movement.
Justification for the Suspension of the Movement
- Gandhi on his part, justified himself on grounds of his unshakeable faith in non-violence.
- Historians such as Bipan Chandra have argued that Gandhian strategy of non-violence was based on the premise that the use of repressive force against non-violent protesters would expose the real character of the colonial state and ultimately put moral pressure on them, but incidents such as Chauri Chaura defeated that strategy.
- Besides, Bipin chandra opines that withdrawal or shift to a phase of non-confrontation is an inherent part of a strategy of political action that is based on the masses.
- The disillusionment resulting from the suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement nudged many of the younger Indian nationalists towards the conclusion that India would not be able to throw off colonial rule through non-violence.
- It was from the ranks of these impatient patriots that some of India’s most of the revolutionaries came into picture like Jogesh Chatterjee, Ramprasad Bismil, Sachin Sanyal, Ashfaqulla Khan, Jatin Das, Bhagat Singh, Bhagwati Charan Vohra, Masterda Surya Sen, and many others.
- Besides, sudden termination of the Non-Cooperation Movement disillusioned the Khilafat movement leaders that created a rift between Congress and the muslim leaders.
-Source: The Hindu