March 16, 2021
Power and Control
To: either/view subscribers
Good afternoon. If you had the power to change your official designation, what would you name it as? Well, Tesla CEO Elon Musk apparently has that power. As per a recent filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, Elon Musk’s designation at Tesla will be ‘Technoking’, while the designation of his CFO Zach Kirkhorn will be ‘Master of Coin’.
Feature Story 📰
New bill aims to provide more powers to Delhi’s L-G
Yesterday, the Centre introduced ‘The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021’ in the Lok Sabha. This bill has some controversial provisions which may change the nature of governance in the capital. The ruling Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi and other opposition parties have criticized the government over the introduction of this bill.
One of the amendments in the bill notes that “the expression “Government” referred to in any law to be made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the Lieutenant Governor.” The bill also requires the council of ministers to pass laws only after ensuring that the Lieutenant Governor is provided an opportunity to give opinions on them.
Over the years, several parties in power in the union territory of Delhi have tried to convert it to a state without success. The clamour for statehood has only increased in the years since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power. AAP and the office of Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor have not seen eye-to-eye on several administrative issues in the past. By curtailing the powers of the council of ministers, AAP fears that the BJP is trying to run the Delhi government through a backdoor.
Objective of the bill:
The main objective of the bill is to clarify the roles of the Lieutenant-Governor and the council of ministers so that there is no scope for confusion in the future. The Bill aims to bring accountability in governance of the union territory. It also complies with the February 2019 Supreme Court of India’s directive asking the Centre for clarification regarding works and powers between itself and the Delhi government.
The statement of objects and reasons is reproduced from the bill below:
- The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 (1of 1992) was enacted to supplement the provisions of the Constitution relating to the Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers for the National Capital Territory of Delhi and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Section 44 of the Act deals with conduct of business and there is no structural mechanism provided in the Act for effective time bound implementation of said section. Further, there is no clarity as to what proposal or matters are required to be submitted to Lieutenant Governor before issuing order thereon.
- The Constitution Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in its judgment dated the 04th July, 2018, and Division Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in its judgment dated the 14th February, 2019, has interpreted the provisions of article 239AA of the Constitution relating to the structure of governance in National Capital Territory of Delhi.
- In order to give effect to the interpretation made by Hon’ble Supreme Court in the aforesaid judgments, a Bill, namely, the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeks, inter alia, to clarify the expression “Government”, which in the context of legislations to be passed by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi, shall mean the Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, consistent with the status of Delhi as a Union territory to address the ambiguities in the interpretation of the legislative provisions. It further seeks to ensure that the Lieutenant Governor is necessarily granted an opportunity to exercise the power entrusted to him under proviso to clause (4) of article 239AA of the Constitution, in select category of cases and also to make rules in matters which incidentally encroach upon matters falling outside the preview of the Legislative Assembly. It also seeks to provide for rules made by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi to be consistent with the rules of the House of the People.
- The said Bill will promote harmonious relations between the legislature and the executive, and further define the responsibilities of the elected Government and the Lieutenant Governor, in line with the constitutional scheme of governance of National Capital Territory of Delhi, as interpreted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
- The Bill seeks to achieve the aforesaid objectives.
Leaders of Aam Aadmi Party have taken to Twitter to condemn the Centre’s move. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted saying that the move by BJP is unconstitutional and anti-democratic. He has accused the BJP of trying to ‘drastically curtail powers of elected government’ through the Bill.
AAP MLA Raghav Chadha has termed the Bill as an ‘unholy attempt to curtail powers of democratically elected Govt with highest mandate in India’s electoral history’.
The Congress party has also strongly opposed the Bill and called it “an assault on the powers of the elected government and the people’s will”. Congress leader Anil Bhardwaj said, “If the Bill becomes an Act, BJP will resort to back-seat driving in Delhi through the Lieutenant Governor, irrespective of which party comes to power as the Delhi Government will have to take permission from him for every administrative action.”
Beyond Echo Chambers 🕵️
For the Right:
- Praise from abroad is lauded, but the Indian government turns angry at the slightest criticism.
For the Left:
- Given the compulsion of the Centre and states to raise revenues, tax on fuels will not go down.
Election Watch 🗳️
(126 constituencies – 3-phase polls)
- The Congress party in the state has said that if voted to power, the youth of the state will get a ‘written guarantee’ of 5 lakh government jobs. The party further said that a ‘written guarantee’ would also be given to housewives in Assam for ₹2,000 per month income support.
(140 constituencies – 1-phase poll)
- Manikandan C, BJP’s candidate for Mananthavady constituency, has declined the seat. Mananthavady in Wayanad district is reserved for Scheduled Tribes. Manikandan, who hails from the Paniya tribe, had declined the BJP’s offer to contest the seat when they tried to persuade him over phone calls with some party leaders. He was surprised when BJP announced his name for the seat, despite his reluctance. Manikandan is vocal about tribal issues, and has stated that he was against Congress, CPI(M) and BJP as their policies were against tribal communities. The BJP is trying to hold more discussions with him.
(234 constituencies – 1-phase poll)
- Actor Vijayakanth’s Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) has entered into an alliance with TTV Dinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnettra Kazhagam (AMMK). DMDK has been allocated 60 seats for the upcoming polls. Vijayakanth will not be contesting in this election due to medical reasons. His wife and DMDK treasurer Premalatha will be making her electoral debut contesting from Virudhachalam constituency. Last week, DMDK had walked out of the AIADMK-BJP alliance after failing to agree on a seat-sharing arrangement.
(294 constituencies – 8-phase polls)
- Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta, who was recently nominated by the BJP to contest in the upcoming elections in West Bengal, has landed in a controversy. Trinamool Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra wrote on twitter that Swapan Dasgupta should be disqualified under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, which states that a “nominated member of a House shall be disqualified for being a member of the House if he joins any political party after the expiry of six months from the date on which he takes his seat after complying with the requirements of article 99 or, as the case may be, article 188.” Swapan Dasgupta has not declared any party affiliation as per the Rajya Sabha website. After the furore, Swapan Dasgupta resigned as a Rajya Sabha MP today. He can still contest in the West Bengal elections.
State of the States 🏴
Pleasure trip (Goa) – The country’s first-ever legal brick-and-mortar sex toy store named Kama Gizmos has opened in Goa’s Calangute. This store, a partnership between two competing sex product retailers Kamakart and Gizmoswala, has obtained all legal permissions from the government and launched on February 14, 2021. The store looks like a typical pharmacy, unlike the shady underground vibes of such stores abroad. To avoid violating any obscenity laws, the packaging of the products in the store does not have nudity or show women in a demeaning manner.
Prison visit (Odisha) – Orissa High Court has directed District Magistrates (DMs) to submit a report to the court after visiting jails within their jurisdictions. Couple of petitions in the court have highlighted the issue of overcrowding of jails and deaths of prison inmates. The court has issued the direction to DMs to understand the current condition of prisons in the state.
NIA on the hunt (Manipur) – Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has handed over the probe into the grenade attack on Manipur governor Najma Heptulla’s official bungalow to National Investigation Agency (NIA). The attack was carried out outside the Raj Bhavan by two bike-borne suspects on January 19, 2021. Three persons have been arrested in the case so far. The initial investigation has revealed that the attack was carried out based on instructions from Myanmar-based commanders of the banned United National Liberation Front (UNLF). NIA has registered the case under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, explosive substances act as well as attempt to murder.
Key Number 🔢
100 – Number of unicorns in India, according to a recent report by Credit Suisse. A unicorn is a privately held startup company with valuation over $1 billion. Credit Suisse’s estimation of Indian unicorns is at least three times higher than the number proposed by others. The combined valuation of all these unicorns is $240 billion, according to the report.