The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the response of the Centre and the Delhi government on a plea seeking to quash a recently implemented law that effectively made Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal the “government” in the national Capital, PTI reported.

A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued the notice after an Aam Aadmi Party member, Neeraj Sharma, filed the plea which seeks to declare the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Amendment Act, 2021, unconstitutional.

In his plea, Sharma submitted that the Act was in violation of the basic structure of the Constitution and its Articles 14 (Right to equality) and 21 (Right to life and personal liberty), Live Law reported.

The plea also stated that the amendment nullified an earlier decision of the Supreme Court stating that the elected government of Delhi can take decisions within its jurisdiction and execute them without concurrence of the lieutenant governor.

“There would be no point of the elected government of Delhi as all the files on decisions taken by the council of ministers would have to be sent to the lieutenant governor,” the plea stated. “This will create an autocratic form of government.”

The plea also contended that the federal structure mandated in the Constitution ensures that the Parliament has no power “to legislate and take away the inherent right” of an independent legislative house, like the Delhi Assembly, to frame rules for conducting its proceedings.

National Capital Territory of Delhi Amendment Act

At the core of the new legislation is Article 239AA of the Indian Constitution, which gives Delhi the special character of a Union Territory, with a Legislative Assembly that has a lieutenant governor as its administrative head.

The law significantly expands the powers of the Centre-appointed lieutenant governor of Delhi, at the cost of the elected Assembly. Among other things, the law proposes that the term “government” in the law that underpins the functioning of Delhi refers to the lieutenant governor and not the elected leadership. Additionally, the legislation requires the Delhi government to seek the opinion of the lieutenant governor before taking any executive action.

Last month, the Centre notified the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, effectively making Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, the “government” in the city. President Ram Nath Kovind had given his assent to the controversial Bill on March 28 after it was cleared in both Houses of Parliament amid strong protests from the Opposition, which said the proposed reforms were against the federal structure of India’s democracy.