5 April 2022 2:06 PM GMT
The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Delhi Municipal Corporation Amendment Bill, 2022, which seeks to merge three municipal corporations in the national capital. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 30.The Bill introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah seeks to amend the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 and unify South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), North Delhi Municipal...
The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Delhi Municipal Corporation Amendment Bill, 2022, which seeks to merge three municipal corporations in the national capital. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 30.
The Bill introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah seeks to amend the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 and unify South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) into the "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. This is why, the Opposition has criticized the Bill, alleging that it disrupts cooperative Federalism.
Today, Senior Advocate and Member of Parliament Dr. AM Singvi remarked that the Bill is "constitutional suspect" and "legally untenable". He stated that the Bill delas with "Municipalities" which is a subject created by a special Amendment to the Constitution in 1993, for decentralization of governance.
Part 9A was entered in the Constitution by the 74th Amendment in 1993 which deals with Municipalities. Singhvi said that all the provisions contained thereunder give power to make laws only to a State government for Municipalities.
He added that even though Parliament has overriding powers under Article 239AA of the Constitution (special powers of the Parliament), the same was inserted in the year 1992. He said that the 1993 Amendment has an overriding effect on such powers.
"You have a later Constitutional Amendment of 1993, and secondly you have a Special Amendment for Municipalities. A later and a special law overrides an earlier and a general law."
BJP MP Sudhanshu Trivedi responded 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. He also claimed that January 2016, when the High Court had asked as to who controls the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the Delhi government had responded that MCD does not come under it but if the court directs, it is willing to take over the corporation.
Home Minister Amit Shah claimed that the Bill does not attack the federal structure of the Constitution inasmuch as Delhi is not a State and Centre has special powers over it under Article 239AA.
"The experience of the last ten years shows that the main objective of trifurcation of creating compact municipalities in Delhi to provide more efficient civic services to the public has not been achieved. Instead, owing to inadequacies in resources and uncertainty in fund allocation and release, the three corporations have been facing huge financial hardships, making it difficult for them to maintain the civic services in Delhi at the desired levels," the Statement of Objects annexed to the Bill states.
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.
Earlier, BSP MP Ritesh Pandey had said 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.
Supporting this view, TMC MP Mahua Moitra highlighted that only last week, the Delhi government was constrained to approach the Supreme Court to seeking direction to the state election commissioner (SEC) to expeditiously conduct the municipal elections in the city in a free and fair manner.
NCP MP Supriya Sule questioned the government on bringing "municipal issues" to the Parliament. Citing cooperative federalism, she insisted that the same falls within the state's domain and that the Parliament must focus on larger policy issues.
The Bill will now be presented before the President for his assent.
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