The Act, which in effect makes Lieutenant Governor (L-G) the head of Delhi, was notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday.
The Act was passed by the Parliament last month. It came into force on April 27, the MHA order said.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, has in practice, made the elected government of the state meaningless, as all decisions taken by it will have to be routed through the L-G. Delhi is a union territory, but its legislature was given special powers in the early 1990s. There was, however, room for interpretation and till recent years, there existed an understanding that the L-G would have exclusive powers in matters of law and order, police, and land.
In 2015, after several run-ins with the newly elected Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, the MHA passed an order that essentially gave the powers to appoint and transfer bureaucrats to the Centre.
Among the main provisions of the Act is one that makes it explicitly clear that the term “government” in any law made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the L-G. The Act adds that the L-G’s opinion shall be taken before the government takes any executive action based on decisions taken by the Cabinet or any individual minister.
The Delhi government had hit out at the Centre after the Act was passed and said it was a way to snatch power from an elected government.
Buoyed by a 2018 Supreme Court Constitutional bench judgement, which said that the L-G’s concurrence is not required on issues other than police, public order and land, AAP said it had been freed from previous obligations and had brought in measures such as free bus rides for women and 20 units of free electricity per month. The Constitution Bench had said, “It has to be clearly stated that requiring prior concurrence of the Lieutenant Governor would absolutely negate the ideals of representative governance and democracy conceived for the NCT of Delhi by Article 239AA of the Constitution,” the court had ruled. The L-G was bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers, it had said. The Act negates this.
Reacting to the notification of the Act on Wednesday, the AAP questioned its timing, “We hoped that the central government should have waited at least till the end of the second Covid wave… it can lead to a lot of chaos… The Central government and the Delhi government are working together, but this notification will bring a lot of confusion at a time when work is being done at war footing,” it said in a statement.