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Centre Introduces Bill In Parliament To Unify Three Municipal Corporations In Delhi

Akshita Saxena
25 March 2022 8:08 AM GMT
Centre Introduces Bill In Parliament To Unify Three Municipal Corporations In Delhi
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Opposition criticised the Bill as violating the principle of cooperative federalism.

The Central government on Friday introduced the Delhi Municipal Corporation Amendment Bill, 2022 in the Lok Sabha. The Bill introduced by Union Minister Nityanand Rai on behalf of Home Minister Amit Shah seeks to amend the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 and merge three municipal corporations in the national capital, namely— South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), North Delhi...

The Central government on Friday introduced the Delhi Municipal Corporation Amendment Bill, 2022 in the Lok Sabha.

The Bill introduced by Union Minister Nityanand Rai on behalf of Home Minister Amit Shah seeks to amend the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 and merge three municipal corporations in the national capital, namely— South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).

The newly formed body will be called 'Municipal Corporation of Delhi'.

It may be noted that the three bodies, trifurcating the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, were created in 2011 with the passing of Delhi Municipal Corporation Amendment Act by the legislative assembly of Delhi.

The Bill introduced by the Centre states that the trifurcation has resulted in uneven territorial division and revenue generating potential between the three corporations. Thus, the Bill proposes to merge them together again.

It also seeks to give control of the unified municipal body to the Central government, by replacing the word "Government" under the Act, with "Central Government" and appointing a Special Officer who will take charge of the body after passing of the Bill.

Furthermore, the Bill proposes that the unified corporation will not have more than 250 seats.

Presently, Section 3A of the 1957 Act provides that the Central Government may, after consultation with the Government, alter the names, increase or diminish the area or any zone. However, with the passing of the Bill, Centre alone would be empowered to make any such changes.

The Bill has been widely criticized by the Opposition members for disrupting cooperative Federalism.

RSP MP from Kerala NK Premchandran stated that the Bill encroaches into the powers of Delhi Legislative Assembly and is opposed to Article 246 of the Constitution.

"I do accept the fact that constitutionally, Union government have ample power to legislate on any matter wrt to Union Territory but, this is disrupting the will of the people...the legislative assembly of Delhi passed an Act for trifurcation and it is in force…now Union is coming with a law to unify the bodies. What is the will of the people?"

He further alleged that the provisions of the Amendment Bill are complex and are not specific. "In Legislative drafting, each and every provision must be specific," he asserted.

Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi opposed the Bill, saying that no consultation talks were held with the state government before introduction of the Bill. Further, he said that the Centre cannot limit the number of seats by way of legislation since the same has to be ascertained based on the population of the area.

BSP MP Ritesh Pandey stated that the Bill is against the spirit of Article 243U of the Constitution, which provides that election to constitute a Municipality shall be completed before the expiration of a period of six months from the date of its dissolution. However, in this case, a Bill is being introduced after stalling the elections.

The last poll to the municipal corporations were held in April 2017. Lately, the Delhi government has been accusing the Centre of deliberately stalling the elections,

Congress MP Manish Tewari stated that with the insertion of Part IXA (Municipalities) in the Constitution, with effect from June 1, 1993, the power to constitute Municipalities lies with the state government, in terms of Article 243P and 243R of the Constitution.

He added that as per Article 246 of the Constitution read with Schedule VII Entry 5 of the State List, power to constitute Municipal Corporation is with the state.

Further, under the Transaction of Business Rules of NCT of Delhi, notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Rule 8 read with Entry 1 of the Schedule attached provides that the local self government institution and their functioning falls to the remit of Delhi government.

Furthermore, under the Allocation of Business Rules notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Entry 26 states that the local self government falls to remit of the Urban Development Department of NCT of Delhi.

Thus, he said that the Parliament does not have the legislative competence to enact this Bill.

The Centre on the other hand claims that the Bill does not transgress with the basic structure of the Constitution and that the Parliament is empowered under Article 239AA of the Constitution to add, amend, vary or repeal any law so made by the Legislative Assembly.

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