logo

Leadership at loggerheads

Leadership at loggerheads

The Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court, from November 3, is hearing the matter on L-G Delhi vs CM Delhi, who are on conflicting ends on the issue of governance of Delhi. That Police, Land and Public Order are L-G Delhi's exclusive power is clear. The debate is on the other areas that are included under "Transferred Subjects". These include Finance, Establishment, PWD Social Welfare, Health Vigilance Transport and a half dozen more areas.

The federal structure of the Indian system of governance is three-tiered, each tier having its own executive functions. According to the Constitution of India, the Union or the Central Government is the highest executive body of the country. It delineates some of its powers to its constituent political units that comprise the state governments in each state. This is the second tier in the structure. Each state is vested with exclusive executive powers, managed by the ruling governments in each state. The third tier in the federal structure is the local-level governance of the panchayats and the municipalities.
In this form of federalism, each state of the Indian Union wields power. As far as its division of powers is concerned, the state, whether it follows a unicameral or bicameral system of legislation, must have a Legislative Assembly or a Vidhan Sabha. In India's state legislative structure, the Vidhan Sabha is either the Lower House (in states with bicameral legislature) or the sole house (in states with unicameral legislature). Its members are called MLAs or Members of the Legislative Assembly. These members are direct representatives of the people who exercise universal adult suffrage from territorial constituencies. The number of members in the legislative assembly cannot exceed 500 in any assembly and it cannot be fewer than 60 members in any state (though the Legislative Assemblies of Mizoram and Goa have 40 members each, Sikkim has 32 and Puducherry at 30). The responsibilities of the MLAs in each state are equivalent to that of the Members of the Parliament in the Lok Sabha. The Legislative Assembly is the highest law-making body in each state. The MLAs represent each constituency of the state as members are elected to cater to the interests of each region.
The Delhi Legislative Assembly was first constituted on March 7, 1952, under the Government of Part C States Act, 1951; it was inaugurated by the Home Minister, KN Katju. The Assembly had 48 members and a Council of Ministers in an advisory role to the Chief Commissioner of Delhi, but it also had powers to make the laws. The first Council of Ministers was led by Chaudhary Brahm Prakash, acclaimed even today as the first Chief Minister of Delhi. Later, the States Reorganisation Commission was set up in 1953 by the constitutional amendment through States Reorganisation Act, 1956. It came into effect on November 1, 1956. Delhi ceased to be a Part-C State and was made a Union Territory, under the direct administration of the President of India. Also, the Delhi Legislative Assembly and the Council of Ministers were abolished simultaneously. Subsequently, the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, was enacted which led to the formation of the Municipal Corporation. Then, in September 1966, with "The Delhi Administration Act, 1966", came the Delhi Metropolitan Council, with 56 elected and five nominated members, with the Lt. Governor of Delhi as its head. The Council, however, had no legislative powers, but only an advisory role in the governance of Delhi. This set up functioned until 1990.
This Council was finally replaced by the Delhi Legislative Assembly through the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991, followed by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, the Sixty-ninth Amendment to the Constitution of India, which declared the Union Territory of Delhi to be formally known as National Capital Territory of Delhi also supplementing the constitutional provisions relating to the Legislative Assembly and the Council of Ministers and related matters. The Legislative Assembly is selected for a period of five years, and presently it is the sixth.
As OSD to Delhi L-G from April 2007 to July 2013, with the responsibility of advising him in all matters under Home Department Delhi and matters submitted by Law Minister regarding police and jails, I had a ringside seat. I found the division of power between L-G and the CM and his Cabinet well formulated. On all subjects including posting in Departments under the "Transferred Subject" list, the L-G discharged his responsibility as a Constitutional Governor.
What changed after 2015? From the outer ring, as far as I can discern, it was its services. Delhi does not have an exclusive service cadre unlike most of the states. Arunachal, Goa, Mizoram, Union Territory (Andamans, Chandigarh, Delhi) or AGMUT cadre provides all these States IPS and IAS officers. The posting to these six is done by the Union Home Ministry. Till 2015, once posted there, their further appointments to respective departments were done by the state government. One particular case that readily comes to mind is of Dr. N Dilip Kumar, IPS. As a DIG ranked officer, he was head of the Anti Corruption Unit (ACB) for about two years. The Union Home Ministry promoted him as IG and L-G (Tejendra Khanna) desired he continues there itself. The CM (Sheela Dixit) indicated that the unit should continue to be headed by a DIG. Since the ACB is under the Vigilance Department (Transferred Department) her view prevailed. This has now changed. IAS and IPS officers within Delhi are posted by the L-G. He has also commandeered ACB from the Vigilance Department. Delhi High Court has held the L-G has primacy in all matters of governance in Delhi. The Supreme Court Constitutional Bench will ultimately have the last word.
(The author is former Joint Director of CBI. The views expressed are personal.)

Agencies

Agencies

Our Contributor help bring you the latest article around you


Exclusive

View All

Latest News

View All
Share it
Top