PRESENT FORM OF DELHI ASSEMBLY
The erstwhile Delhi Metropolitan Council set-up suffered from many inherent deficiencies. It was a deliberative organ with no legislative powers and it had only an advisory role in the governance of Delhi. There was, therefore, a continuous demand for a full fledged State Assembly with Council of Ministers to aid and advice the Lt. Governor. Accordingly, on 24th December 1987, the Government of India appointed the “Sarkaria Committee” (later on called “Balakrishnan Committee”) to go into the various issues connected with the administration of Union Territory of Delhi and to recommend measures for streamlining the administrative set up. The Committee submitted its report on 14th December 1989.
In accordance with the recommendations of the Balakrishnan Committee, the Parliament passed the Constitution (69th Amendment) Act, 1991, which inserted the new Articles 239 AA and 239 AB in the Constitution providing, inter alia, for a Legislative Assembly for Delhi. Another comprehensive legislation passed by Parliament called“The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991”, supplements the Constitutional provisions relating to the Legislative Assembly and the Council of Ministers and matters related thereto. Section 33 of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act provides for the framing of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Legislative Assembly.
The Assembly consists of 70 Members – all chosen by direct election from as many constituencies. At present 13 seats in the Assembly are reserved for Scheduled Castes. The Constitution lays down that the strength of the Council of Ministers shall not be more than ten percent of the total number of members in the Assembly. Thus there are Seven Ministers in the Delhi Cabinet
The Assembly has the power to make laws with respect to all the matters in the State List or in the Concurrent List of the Constitution of India except Entries 1 (Public Order), 2 (Police), and 18 (Land), and entries 64, 65 and 66 relatable to the said entries of the State List.
The President appoints the Chief Minister and on the advice of the Chief Minister appoints other Ministers. The Ministers hold office during the pleasure of the President. The Chief Minister and her Council aids and advises the Lt. Governor in the exercise of his functions in relation to matters with respect to which the Legislative Assembly has power to make laws.
The Lieutenant Governor has the power to summon, prorogue or dissolve the Assembly. He can also address the Assembly or send messages to it. The Lt. Governor addresses the first session of the Assembly after each general elections and the first session of each year.
The Assembly is a privileged body and its members enjoy the freedom of speech in the House as well as freedom to vote. The Members of the Delhi Assembly have all the powers and privileges, which are enjoyed by the Members of Parliament. The proceedings of the Assembly cannot be called in question in the Court of Law. Also the Member or the Presiding Officer in whom powers are vested for regulating the procedure or conduct of business is not subject to the jurisdiction of Courts in respect of exercise by him of those powers.
Like members of other State Legislatures and Parliament, the members of Delhi Legislative Assembly are also empowered to vote in the election of the President of India. They are also subject to the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, which contains provisions as to disqualification on grounds of defection.
The Present Assembly has certainly more powers than the Metropolitan Council and the one Delhi had in 1952 under the Part-C States Act, 1951. Now only 3 subjects are outside the purview of the Legislative Assembly, whereas as many as 9 subjects were outside the competence of the 1952 Assembly.