Initially, Delhi was a full-fledged state as the first Legislative Assembly elections of Delhi held on 27th of March, 1952. It was during the year 1956, under the States Reorganisation Act, where major reforms regarding the boundaries of States along with Union Territories took place. During this time, Delhi became a Union Territory by losing its full statehood. It was during 1991, under the 69th Amendment of the Indian Constitution when the special status was provided to Delhi and it was formally declared as The National Territory of Delhi. Thus, it provided the partial statehood to Delhi, which, by various Chief Ministers contested, from time to time.
Tussle between Centre and Delhi Government
The demand for the special statehood for Delhi is not something new. The fact can be traced historically, that any government ruling over Delhi has placed this demand in front of the Central government, in one way or another. During the elections of 2015, special statehood for Delhi was the agenda as it was included in the manifesto of BJP. Since 1998, BJP always extended its support to Delhi as a separate state. But it was only in 1999 when BJP inculcated this as its agenda by incorporating it in its manifesto. In 2003, it was somehow, managed to present it in Lok Sabha although Home Ministry rejected it. But it was in 2013 legislative elections when BJP dropped its agenda for separate statehood. To be a great surprise, it was the same time when Aam Aadmi Party included this as its agenda in the Manifesto.
We are aware of the fact that the crisis regarding the Delhi statehood issue has erupted due to the difference of opinions regarding the various matters existing between the Chief Minister, who represents the State government and, Lieutenant governor, who is responsible to the Union Home Ministry and hence, the Central government. This factor is responsible for creating tussle between the two governments and hence, leads to various issues including the policy crises, deadlock in talks between the two, etc.
It was in 1991, when, through a Constitutional Amendment, Delhi was granted a special status and was declared as a National Capital Territory (NCT) which itself clarified the situation that Delhi would be serving as a Central Government seat similar as in the case of Washington DC, which also serves as a national capital but none of the elected government lies there and exists only one Mayor. The above-mentioned situation depicts that if there lies a seat of Central authority, there cannot be two authorities in the one way or another.
A Comparison between Delhi and Puducherry
Both Delhi and Puducherry are among the Union Territories of this nation and hence, constitutes an elected legislative Assembly and the Lieutenant Governor along with The Council of Ministers serving as an executive. It is worth mentioning over here that being Union territories, both Delhi and Puducherry are deriving their powers from different constitutional provisions as Puducherry is being dealt with Article 239 A and Delhi with 239AA. The former Article deals with enabling provisions that give its nod to the Parliament for creating a law for Puducherry while, the latter, deals with providing the scope along with the limits of powers of the legislative assembly. In other words, it can be said that there lie few restrictions with article 239AA including laws regarding police, public order and land are to be created by the Central Government and not the State Government. Such restrictions are not applicable by Article 239A.
Puducherry is being governed by the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 and enables the legislative assembly by providing the power of making laws on any of the matters which have enumerated in the State List or the Concurrent List. Thus, it can be said that Puducherry enjoys a bit of broader legislative and executive powers than that of Delhi.
Delhi’s reasoning for the demand of separate statehood
- The government also has a very limited say in the issues pertaining to recruitment and conditions of service of officials of clerks, IAS etc.
- Delhi government has also been accusing the centre to be meddling in their work and putting hurdles through LG.
- Statehood will bring control of administration under one umbrella, the state government, led by the CM and his Council of Ministers and avoid multiplicity of authorities.
- By attaining a separate statehood, more opportunities along with the development in the various fields should be available to the native population as the restricting areas under Article 239AA would be accessible to the state government. Moreover, there lie many issues regarding transport, electricity, water, housing, etc. which needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
- As of now, there are many instances when the Lieutenant Governor without consulting the Council of ministers, have taken decisions independently and eventually raised conflicts between the two as it is the responsibility of Lt. Governor to work harmoniously with the State government which deals with the various aspects such as education, health, etc.
Supreme Court’s verdict
A verdict regarding the ongoing power tussle between the Centre and the Delhi Government has been given by a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court which highlights some of the important points:
- SC declared that Lt. Governor is not authorised to make independent decisions and should act only after consulting the council of Ministers.
- The decisions regarding the three matters including police, land and public order should be under the complete control of the Central Government.
- Delhi government enjoys all the powers of the State Government except the above three mentioned areas.
- Under the provision of Clause (4), Lt. Governor is provided with the power of consulting President under Article 239, regarding any dispute and under certain circumstances.
- Governor is not a real Governor and only an administrator.
Thus, it can be said that Delhi is not a full-fledged state. Although, the SC has clarified the situation that under any circumstances, Lt. Governor has to follow the Constitutional provisions but it has created a sense of ambiguity by providing the Lt. Governor with the power of consulting President without drawing a fine line between ‘any matter’ and ‘every matter’. Thus, few things have again remained unsaid and may cause disruption in the political machinery.
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