Two Constitution Benches of the Supreme Court have dealt with the issue of the powers of the Delhi government and their judgments involve the interpretation of Article 239AA of the Constitution.

What is Article 239AA of the Constitution?

Inserted into the Constitution by the 69th Amendment Act, 1991, Article 239AA conferred special status on Delhi following the recommendations of the S Balakrishnan Committee that was set up in 1987 to look into Delhi’s demands for statehood.

According to this provision, the NCT of Delhi will have an administrator and a Legislative Assembly. Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the Legislative Assembly, “shall have the power to make laws for the whole or any part of the NCT with respect to any of the matters in the State List or Concurrent List in so far as any such matter is applicable to Union territories,” except on the subjects of police, public order, and land.


Powers of the Legislative Assembly

According to the Article, 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


Which article provides special provisions with respect to Delhi?

Article 239 AA of the Indian Constitution provides special provisions with respect to Delhi.

Some important provisions of Article 239 AA are:

  • As from the date of commencement of the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991, the Union Territory of Delhi shall be called the National Capital Territory of Delhi (hereafter in this Part referred to as the National Capital Territory) and the administrator thereof appointed under article 239 shall be designated as the Lieutenant Governor.
  • There shall be a Legislative Assembly for the National Capital Territory, and the seats in such Assembly shall be filled by members chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the National Capital Territory.
  • The total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly, the number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes, the division of the National Capital Territory into territorial constituencies (including the basis for such division) and all other matters relating to the functioning of the Legislative Assembly shall be regulated by law made by Parliament.
  • There shall be a Council of Ministers consisting of not more than ten per cent of the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly, with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Lieutenant Governor. 






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