High time that Delhi becomes an administrative unit like in many countries

Various political parties have, from time to time, demanded “full statehood” for Delhi. The fact is that Delhi Assembly is a farce. It is nothing but rehab centre for politicians and bureaucrats.

PTI
PTI
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R Venkataraman

The vexatious issue of awarding “statehood” to Delhi continues to surface from time to time, ever since India’s National Capital was rechristened as National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCTD) after its new Assembly came into effect in 1993.

Various political parties have, from time to time and depending on convenience, demanded a “full statehood” for Delhi. The fact is that Delhi State Assembly is a farce. It is nothing but a rehabilitation centre for politicians and bureaucrats.

If one looks at business rules of the NCT Delhi Act, it becomes clear that it is disabled ab-initio (from the beginning).

For instance, what are the state subjects? Many, but mainly law and order and land, to put it simply. The law and order of Delhi is with the Union Home Ministry, which controls the Delhi Police.

Land is a subject under Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which in turn is under the Union Urban Development Ministry. Then what remains? Health, education, so-called finance, which again works under a system of union budget allocation. Of course, local taxes such as excise and others remain relatively insignificant.

For example, even among government hospitals in the health sector, AIIMS and RML hospitals come under the union government. Then, municipal hospitals and municipal schools come under respective municipalities.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), which was one body earlier, is now three elected bodies. These elected bodies don’t pay heed to the elected government of NCT Delhi. New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) is another body administrated by Centre.

While most capitals in the world—Beijing, Washington DC, Canberra, Ottawa, to name a few—are administrated as federal territory, Delhi, which was once a Union Territory, has been declared as a “State,” without the meaning under Article 12 of the Constitution

Even mosquito control is with municipalities.

Now, let us examine the verdict of the Supreme Court. In the concluding part, it says that Parliament has powers to make laws for NCTD in respect to any matter in state and concurrent lists.

That is, the Indian Constitution has three lists: central, state and concurrent. Once parliament has powers to make laws for NCTD, even an enactment by the NCDT assembly can be nullified. The executive power of the Union Government is co-extensive and it could be extensive to this NCTD powers.

Then the LG (Lt Governor) can make a reference to the President in all cases. The LG is “empowered” by the President in the event of difference of opinion between him and the council of Ministers. So, in future too, on every issue if the matter is referred to the President who would act certainly on the “aid and advice of the council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister”, the Central will only rule NCT Delhi.

Then what does this Delhi Assembly exist for? The only possible answer lies in Section 19 of the NCTD Act, which says that only salaries and perks for the MLAs could be determined by the Assembly - which it does with great interest from time to time.

While most capitals in the world—Beijing, Washington DC, Canberra, Ottawa, to name a few—are administrated as federal territory, Delhi, which was once a Union Territory, has been declared as a “State,” without the meaning under Article 12 of the Constitution.

Of course, as a state, it comes within the meaning of “state” under Article 12 and that’s a separate legal issue. But as far the “state” issue is concerned, it is now neither a “state” proper, nor a federal or Union Territory.

New Delhi, within Delhi, was supposed to be an administrative unit, separate or distinct, from its surrounding states. Now, there is only a multiplicity of authorities.

As a cub reporter with The Patriot, I remember the legendary Aruna Asaf Ali telling us in an editorial meeting as to how one should fight against this “multiplicity of authorities.” No single window system is yet developed. The multiplicity of authorities has only been further multiplied.

The best solution would be to abolish Delhi Assembly and save crores of public exchequer and make NCT Delhi a small administrative unit as is the situation in many countries in the world. It would at least reduce the “VVIP pollution” in the Indian Capital.

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