National Capital Territory

The 69th constitutional amendment designated Delhi as National Capital Territory of Delhi and provided Legislative Assembly. However it was not conferred with full  statehood and is administered by union government through Lieutenant Governor.  Article 239AA and 239AB, declares the powers and limitations to legislature of the NCT by keeping Public Order, Police and Land out of its purview. This has been a bone of contention between successive governments in Delhi and the Union Government, for granting proper statehood to Delhi.

How Delhi is different from other states?
  • Article 239AA of the Constitution expressly precludes the state government of Delhi from control on the subjects of land, police and public order.
  • Any law passed by Delhi assembly with respect to local bodies has to be sent to Urban Development Ministry for approval and it should be in concurrence with Municipal Corporation Act 1957.
Problems with the existing laws
  • Federalism and autonomy is in question as the state government has to get approvals for most of the laws which is passed by them.
  • The existing set up undermines the role of elected legislature
Various parties argue that such a demand for statehood is logical with following merits:
  1. As the CM and legislature is elected by the people, so they are responsible for the governance of Delhi. Hence, they must be given sufficient power to deliver the same.
  2. After increasing incidents of Rape and other crimes, the demand for control over Delhi Police has become stronger, with logic of democratic control
  3. As land doesn’t come into Delhi Government purview, it has to depend on the Central government for approval of acquisition for infrastructural development.
  4. Delhi is already world’s second most populous city in the world with acute water problem and other urbanization associated problems. There are three major power centers in Delhi- union government, state government and municipal bodies- without clear demarcation of duties and responsibilities. The grey areas still prevail largely  making governance of the urban centre complex.
  5. Many times the Art. 239AA and the clause 45 of NCT Act is misused by the Lt. Gov. to decide on discretion without consulting the democratically elected government. This undermines the democratic ethos of Delhi.
Relevance in contemporary politics:
The subject of statehood to Union Territories (especially Delhi) has been a political topic for the past 2 decades. The union government which has its seat of power in Delhi wants to have  a substantial control in all matters as it may affect the performance of government if the state is ruled by an opposition party. Thus the elected institutions needs to the strengthened & empowered for the delivering the best to the citizens.
Set up in other countries:
  1. France, a unitary state, the administrative subdivisions – regions, departments and communes – has autonomy in various legal functions. The national government is prohibited from intruding in them. But the independence of the capital region of Paris in formulating its policies and implementing them is circumscribed by special powers of the president of the French Republic
  2. Canberra does not have the same legislative independence as the other Australian states, and Australia’s governor-general is the head of Australia’s Capital Territory.
  3. In China, central government exercises more control not only over the city of Beijing, the capital, but also the important cities of Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing. These four municipalities are directly under the central government, which also appoints the mayors.
  4. In USA, a federal country, land was pooled from two states – Virginia and Maryland – to develop the Washington DC. Its citizens elect a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives. They have no representation in the Senate.
Given the global experience, it would not be prudent to give full statehood to Delhi.
Reasons follow:
  1. The capital region has diplomatic areas and other institutions of national interests. They cannot be subjected to local government.
  2. Being the capital of entire India, the democratic rights of NCT’s citizens must accommodate the legitimate stakes of the country’s population, represented by the national government.
  3. The NCT hosts VIPs, Parliament and HQs of various agencies. Giving the local government power to approve their functions and movements will be illegitimate.
Nevertheless, it is important to recognize the genuine rights of the citizens and balance them against the equally legitimate concerns of national nature.
India’s National Capital Territory enjoys special status compared to other metropolitan cities in India. Examine how other federal governments such as USA and Australia, and unitary governments such as China have devolved powers to their Capital Territories compared to India’s National Capital Territory and comment if Delhi should be given full statehood. (200 Words)
Do you think the demand for full statehood to Delhi is logical? Critically comment considering the merits and demerits of granting complete statehood to Delhi. (200 Words)
It is imperative that the rules and laws governing Delhi are reviewed and areas of potential overreach by the Central government are eliminated quickly enough. In the light of recent events that have generated debate on the powers of Delhi’s Chief Minister and  Lieutenant General, critically comment on the statement. (200 Words)
Critically comment on the Constitution 69th Amendment Act passed in 1991 and on Article 239 AA of the Indian constitution and their relevance to contemporary Indian politics. (200 Words)



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