Draft Bill on Delhi Statehood Released

IAS Prelims 2023

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government released a draft bill seeking full statehood for the Capital.

Citizens can review and suggest amendments to the said draft bill till the end of June through emails to “fullstatehood.delhi@gov.in” and “fullstatehood.delhi@gmail.com” following which it will be sent to the Centre for its nod.

Currently, Delhi is governed as per The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991. The draft Bill has proposed that the NCT Act be repealed after its enactment.

Released by Mr. Kejriwal with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia by his side at the Delhi Secretariat, the State of Delhi Bill, 2016, motions for the extension of jurisdiction of the elected government of the Capital over police, land, municipal corporations and

Areas demarcated under the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and the Delhi Cantonment Board would, however, remain beyond the legislative and administrative control of the proposed Delhi State.

The draft bill seeks the replacement of the term ‘Lieutenant Governor’ with ‘Governor’ in a significant shift in terms of administrative nomenclature.

The Governor of State of Delhi would act “on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers as provided in Article 163 of the Constitution”, as per the draft.

Here are its main five salient features:

Name: The draft Bill proposed that National Capital Territory of Delhi be renamed The State of Delhi. In the First Schedule of the Constitution of India, Delhi should be added as the 30th entry under ‘States’ and removed from under ‘Union Territories’.

Jurisdiction: The most complicated aspect of full statehood for Delhi is the power struggle between Centre and State. The draft Bill proposes that all areas other than New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and Cantonment area be under the purview of the Delhi government. The area under NDMC administration includes the residences of the Prime Minister and the President, the Supreme Court, offices of central government ministries, most diplomatic missions and other buildings of national importance.

Control Of Delhi Police, MCD and DDA: Presently, Delhi Police reports to the Union Home Ministry. With the Union Ministry of Urban Development controlling Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Delhi government cannot allot land for the welfare of the people it governs at its own will. The state government does not even control the national capital’s civic bodies. Section 57 of the draft Bill, which says “All consequential amendments to the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act 1957, the Delhi Development Act 1957, the Delhi Police Act 1978” and other matters under the State List will be carried out by the Delhi Assembly, proposes to bring Delhi Police, DDA and Municipal Corporation of Delhi under the state government’s control. “All areas except those under NDMC should be governed completely by the elected government of Delhi”. “The police and other authorities including DDA and civic bodies should be accountable to the Delhi government.”

Powers of the Lieutenant Governor: The turf war between the Lieutenant Governor and Delhi government has been going on ever since AAP first came to power in 2013. Knocking down the higher executive power that the Office of LG enjoys under NCT Delhi Act 1991, Section 58 Part 9 of the draft Bill proposes that ‘Administrator or Lt. Governor’ be replaced by ‘Governor’, and clearly says that “The Governor will act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers as provided in Article 163 of the Constitution”.

Revenue: According to Section 30 of the draft Bill, the state government will have the right to recover arrears of any tax or duty, “including arrears of land revenue”, if the property or place of assessment is in Delhi. As per Section 33, the Centre will have to refund to the state government any tax or duty on property situated in Delhi, “including land revenue collected in excess”, as well as “any other tax or duty collected in excess” if the place of assessment is in Delhi. Section 28 says that the Centre will have to hand over “all land and all stores, articles and other goods” to the state of Delhi unless it is being held for any Union purposes. Section 29 proposes that the NCT’s cash balances “immediately before the appointed day shall be the cash balances of the State of Delhi”.