India has been grappling with an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases, following which several states, including Delhi, have been forced to reintroduce lockdown-like curbs on social movement.
India’s central government has passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, officially tapping Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal to run Delhi rather than Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who normally presides over the elected local government.
The legislation gives overarching powers to Delhi’s Lt. Governor in the day-to-day functioning of the Union Territory.
According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the provisions of the Act came into effect on 27 April (Tuesday).
“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021 (15 of 2021), the Central Government hereby appoints the 27th day of April, 2021, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force,” the Ministry of Home Affairs has stated in a notification.
The notification comes hours after the Delhi High Court slammed the capital territory’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government over the distribution of oxygen at hospitals and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The court opined “if the Delhi government was unable to handle the situation, it will ask the central government to send its officers and take over”.
The Act was passed by Parliament last month, prompting a walkout by opposition parties.
Senior leaders of the AAP had earlier condemned the act as “unconstitutional” and “anti-democracy”.
As per the legislation, the “government” in Delhi means the “Lieutenant Governor” and the ruling city/state government will now have to seek the opinion of the Lt. Governor before taking any executive action.
Delhi State Chief Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government is also not allowed to make any rules to enable itself or its Committees to consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the Capital or conduct inquiries in relation to the administrative decisions.
The Act states that the Delhi assembly won’t be able to make rules for regulating its procedure and the conduct of its business that are inconsistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Parliament of India.
Over the past 24 hours, India has witnessed a record number of new coronavirus cases and deaths, with as many as 3,293 fatalities and 360,960 new infections.