What is Article 239AA?

Article 239AA of the Constitution holds significant importance in defining the special status and governance structure of Delhi. The recent SC ruling that interpreted Article 239AA was nullified with the passing of an of the ordinance that sought to establish the National Capital Civil Services Authority.

Article 239AA: Insertion and Special Status of Delhi

Article 239AA was inserted into the Constitution by the 69th Amendment Act in 1991. It conferred special status on Delhi, following the recommendations of the S Balakrishnan Committee. The provision grants Delhi an administrator and a Legislative Assembly, along with specific powers and limitations.

Powers of the Legislative Assembly

According to Article 239AA, the Legislative Assembly of Delhi has the power to make laws for the entire city or any part of it. The legislative authority extends to matters in the State List or Concurrent List, excluding police, public order, and land. This provision provides the Assembly with a certain degree of legislative autonomy within its jurisdiction.

Federalism and Delhi’s Status

The Constitution Bench ruling in 2018 emphasized that although Delhi cannot be granted the status of a state, the concept of federalism applies to it. The ruling recognized the importance of cooperative federalism in the governance of Delhi, highlighting the unique nature of the city’s administration.

Executive Power and the Role of the Centre

The executive power over police, land, and public order in Delhi rests with the Centre (Union of India). While the Legislative Assembly has legislative authority, the Centre retains exclusive executive control over these crucial areas. This division of power ensures a balance between the regional administration and central oversight.

The Proviso to Article 239AA

The proviso to Article 239AA states that in case of a difference of opinion between the Lieutenant Governor (LG) and the ministers, the matter shall be referred to the President for a decision. This provision ensures that disputes are resolved through a proper constitutional process, with the ultimate decision lying with the President.

Limitations on the Government of NCT of Delhi

The Government of NCT (National Capital Territory) of Delhi operates within the limitations imposed by the Constitution. While it has a certain degree of independence and legislative power, its actions must conform to the laws made by Parliament. This ensures that the regional government operates within the framework of the constitutional scheme.

Emphasis on Participatory Governance

Justice Chandrachud’s separate judgment highlighted that Article 239AA provides for institutional governance based on participatory, representative, and responsive government. This emphasis underscores the democratic principles underlying the governance structure of Delhi.

The Supreme Court’s Unanimous Ruling

On May 11, a unanimous ruling by a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court addressed the power tussle between the Delhi government and the Centre. The ruling reiterated the federal model established by Article 239AA, outlining the limited involvement of the Union of India in the administration of NCTD.



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