GNCTD Act 1991: What is the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991?

GNCTD Act 1991: The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 is an Act to supplement the provisions of the Indian Constitution relating to the Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers for the National Capital Territory of Delhi and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
GNCTD Act, 1991
GNCTD Act, 1991

In a press conference on 4 February 2021, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has alleged that the Union Cabinet has secretly passed GNCTD (Amendment) Bill, 2020. 

Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia stated, "The Union Cabinet gave nod to GNCTD (Amendment) Bill in a secretive way yesterday. The Bill would give LG power to stop work being done by the government elected by the people of Delhi. Giving powers to LG means handing it to the Centre and in tandem to BJP. It is against the constitution and democracy." 

He further added, "The Bill would give more powers to LG in addition to the existing powers on police, land and public order."

On 13 September 2020, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs stated that it will introduce, consider and pass new bills in its Monsoon Session including The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The bill calls for the amendment of the GNCTD Act 1991, 'to bring ease in implementation of certain provisions of the Act'. 

Whats is GNCTD Act, 1991?

It is an Act to supplement the provisions of the Constitution relating to the Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers for the National Capital Territory of Delhi and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. 

Part I:  Preliminary

1- This Act may be called the 'Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991'.

2- Definitions:

(a) Article-- an article of the Constitution.

(b) Assembly Constituency-- constituency provided under this Act for the purpose of elections to the Legislative Assembly.

(c) Capital-- the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

(d) Election Commission-- the Election Commission referred to in article 324.

(e) Legislative Assembly-- the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

(f) Scheduled Castes-- in relation to the Capital, such castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within such castes, races or tribes as are deemed under article 341 to be Scheduled Castes in relation to the Capital.

Part II: Legislative Assembly 

Legislative Assembly and its composition:

1- The total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly shall be seventy. 

2- Delhi should be divided into single-member assembly constituencies in accordance with the provisions of Part III.

3- Seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes in the Legislative Assembly and the provisions of the Article 334 shall apply to such reservation. The number of said seats shall bear the same proportion to the total number of seats in the Assembly as the population of the SCs in Delhi bears to the total population of Delhi. 

Qualifications for membership of Legislative Assembly:

4- A person will be qualified to be a member of the Legislative Assembly provided:

(a) The person is a citizen of India.

(b) The person is not less than twenty years of age.

(c) Must pose other qualifications as may be prescribed in that behalf by or under any law made by the Indian Parliament.

Duration of Legislative Assembly:

5- The duration of the Legislative Assembly will be five years from the date appointed for its first meeting, unless sooner dissolved. 

However, the period may be extended if a Proclamation of Emergency, issued under clause (1) of Article 352 is in operation, be extended by the President by order for a period not exceeding one year at a time and not extending in any case beyond a period of six months after the Proclamation has ceased to operate.

Sessions of Legislative Assembly, prorogation and dissolution:

6- (1) The Lieutenant Governor shall summon the Legislative Assembly to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, from time to time. However, LG should not intervene for six months between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session.

(2) The LG may, from time to time (a) prorogue the Assembly (b) dissolve the Assembly

Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Legislative Assembly:

7- (1) The  Legislative Assembly shall choose two members of the Assembly to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively. As soon as the office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker becomes vacant, the Assembly shall choose another member for the vacant post.

(2) A member holding office as Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly:

(a) shall vacate his office if he ceases to be a member of the Assembly.

(b) may, at any point of time by writing under his hand addressed, if such member is the Speaker, to the Deputy Speaker, and if such member is the Deputy Speaker, to the Speaker, resign his office. 

(c)  may be removed from his office by a resolution of the Assembly passed by the majority of all the then members of the Assembly. However, no resolution for shall be moved unless at least fourteen days' notice has been given of the intention to move the resolution. 

It is to be noted that whenever the Assembly is dissolved, the Speaker shall not vacate his office until immediately before the first meeting of the Assembly after the dissolution.

(3) If the office of the Speaker is vacant, the duties of the office shall be performed by the Deputy Speaker. In case if the office of the Deputy Speaker is also vacant, the duties of the office shall be performed by such member of the Assembly as may be determined by the rules of procedure of the Assembly.

(4) In case Speaker is absent from any sitting of the Assembly, the Deputy Speaker shall act as Speaker. If, the Deputy Speaker is also absent, such person as may be determined by the rules of procedure of the Assembly shall act as Speaker. 

(5) The salaries and allowances shall be paid to the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly as may be respectively fixed by the Legislative Assembly by law. Also, until a provision is made, such salaries and allowances as the Lieutenant Governor may, with the approval of the President, by order determine.

Speaker or Deputy Speaker not to preside while a resolution for his removal from office is under consideration:

8- (1) At any sitting of the Legislative Assembly, while any resolution for the removal of the Speaker from his office is under consideration, the Speaker, or while any resolution for the removal of the Deputy Speaker from his office is under consideration, the Deputy Speaker, shall not preside, although present.  Also, the provisions of sub-section (4) of section 7 shall apply in relation to every such sitting. 

(2) The Speaker shall have the right to speak in and to take part in the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly while any resolution for his removal from office is under consideration in the Assembly and shall, notwithstanding anything mentioned in Section 13, be entitled to vote only in the first instance on such resolution or on any other matter during such proceedings but not in the case of an equality of votes.

Right of Lieutenant Governor to address and send messages to Legislative Assembly:

9- The Lieutenant Governor may:

(1) address the Legislative Assembly and for that purpose require the attendance of members.

(2) send messages to the Assembly w.r.t. a Bill then pending in the Assembly or otherwise. When any such message is sent, the Assembly shall with all convenient despatch consider any matter required by the message to be taken into consideration.

Special address by the Lieutenant Governor:

10- (1) The Lieutenant Governor shall address the Legislative Assembly and inform it of the causes of its summons at the commencement of the first session after each General Election and at the commencement of the first session of each year.

(2)  Provision shall be made by rules, to be made by the Assembly, regulating its procedure for the allotment of time for discussion of the matters referred to in the address by the LG.

Rights of Ministers as respects Legislative Assembly:

11- Every Minister shall have the right to speak in, and otherwise to take part in the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly and to speak in, and otherwise to take part in the proceedings of any committee of the Legislative Assembly of which he may be named a member, but shall not by virtue of this section be entitled to vote.

Oath or affirmation by members:

12- Before taking his seat, each member of the Legislative Assembly shall make and subscribe before the LG/ person appointed in that behalf by him, an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Schedule.

Voting in Assembly, power of Assembly to act notwithstanding vacancies and quorum:

13- (1) All the questions at any sitting of the Legislative Assembly shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting other than the Speaker or person acting as such.

(2) The Speaker/person acting as such shall not vote in the first instance but shall vote in the case of an equality of votes.

(3) The Legislative Assembly shall have the power to act notwithstanding any vacancy in the membership thereof, and any proceedings in the Legislative Assembly shall be valid notwithstanding that it is discovered subsequently that a person who was not entitled sat/voted/took part in the proceedings.

(4) The quorum to constitute a meeting of the Legislative Assembly shall be one-third of the total number of members of the Assembly.

(5) If at any time during a meeting of the Legislative Assembly there is no quorum, it shall be the duty of the Speaker/person acting as such to either adjourn the Assembly or to suspend the meeting until there is a quorum.

Vacation of seats:

14- (1) No person shall be a member both of Parliament and of the Legislative Assembly. If a person is chosen as a member of Parliament as well as Legislative Assembly, then, at the expiration of such period as is specified in/under the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951), and the rules made by the President under clause (2) of Article 101 and clause (2) of Article 190-- that person's seat in Parliament shall become vacant, unless he has previously resigned his seat in the Legislative Assembly.

(2) If a member of the Legislative Assembly:

(a) is subject to any disqualification mentioned in Section 15 or Section 16 for members of the Assembly;

(b) resigns his seat by writing under his hand addressed to the Speaker and his resignation is accepted by the Speaker;

The seat shall become vacant. 

However, with reference to clause (b), if the speaker is not satisfied with the resignation/ thinks that the resignation is not voluntary/ genuine, he shall deny accepting such resignation.

(3) If a member of the Legislative Assembly is absent from all the meetings for a period of sixty days without permission of the Assembly, the Assembly may declare his seat as vacant. However, if the Assembly is prorogued/adjourned for more than four consecutive days, no account shall be taken of such period in computing the period of sixty days. 

Disqualifications for membership:

15- (1) A member shall be disqualified provided:

(a) if he holds any office of profit under the Central/State/UT Government, other than an office declared by law made by Parliament/Legislature of any State/Legislative Assembly of the Capital/any other UT to not disqualify its holder.

(b) if he is disqualified for being chosen as/being a member of either House of Parliament under the provisions of sub-clause (b), sub-clause (c) or sub-clause (d) of clause (1) of Article 102 or of any law made in pursuance of that article.

(2) A person shall not be qualified to hold any office of profit under the Central/State/UT Government by reason only that he is a Minister either for the Union or such State or Union Territory.

(3) If there's any question as to whether a member of the Legislative Assembly has been disqualified under the provisions of sub-section (1), it shall be referred for the decision of the President of India and his decision shall be final in this regard.

(4) Before giving any decision on the said question, the President shall act according to the opinion of the Election Commission.

Disqualification on ground of defection:

16- The provisions of the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution shall subject to the necessary modifications, apply to and in relation to the members of the Legislative Assembly as they apply to and in relation to the members of the Legislative Assembly of a State, and accordingly:

(a) the said Schedule as so modified shall be deemed to form part of this Act.

(b) a person shall be disqualified for being a member of the Legislative Assembly under the said Schedule as so modified.

Penalty for sitting and voting before making oath or affirmation or when not qualified or when disqualified:

17- If a person sits and votes as a member of the Legislative Assembly without meeting the requirements of section 12 or when he is not qualified or he is disqualified for membership, he shall be liable to a penalty of five hundred rupees w.r.t. each day in which he sits, is to be recovered as a debt due to the Union. 

Powers, privileges, etc., of members:

18- (1) There shall be a freedom of speech in the Legislative Assembly subject to the provisions mentioned in this Act and the rules and orders regulating the procedure of the Legislative Assembly.

(2) No member of the Legislative Assembly shall be liable to any proceedings in any court w.r.t. anything said or any vote given in the Assembly/ any committee. Also, no person shall be liable to any proceedings in any court w.r.t. the publication by or under the authority of such Assembly of any report, paper, votes or proceedings.

(3) The powers, privileges and immunities of the Legislative Assembly, its members and committees shall be for the time being enjoyed by the House of the People and its members and committees.

(4) The provisions mentioned in sub-section (1), (2) and (3) shall apply to persons who have the right to speak in and otherwise to take part in the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly or any committee, as they apply in relation to members of that Assembly.

Salaries and allowances of members:

19- Salaries and allowances of members shall be from time to time determined by the Legislative Assembly by law and until a provision is made in that regard, such Salaries and allowances as the Lieutenant Governor may, with the approval of the President of India, by order determine.

Exemption of property of the Union from taxation:

20- The property of the Union shall be exempted from all taxes imposed by or under any law made by the Legislative Assembly or by or under any other law in force in the Capital.

The Act states, "Provided that nothing in this section shall, until Parliament by law otherwise provides, prevent any authority within the Capital from levying any tax on any property of the Union to which such property was immediately before the commencement of the Constitution liable or treated as liable, so long as that tax continues to be levied in the Capital."

Restrictions on laws passed by the Legislative Assembly with respect to certain matters:

21- (1) The provisions of Articles 286, 287 and 288 shall apply in relation to any law passed by the Legislative Assembly w.r.t. any of the matters mentioned in the said Articles.
 
(2) The provisions of Article 304 with necessary modifications shall apply in relation to any law passed by the Legislative Assembly w.r.t. any of the matters mentioned in the said Article. 

Special provisions as to financial bills:

(1) A Bill/Amendment shall neither be introduced/moved in the Legislative Assembly except on the recommendation of LG, subject to the matters mentioned below:

(a) imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax.

(b) amendment of the law w.r.t. any financial obligations are undertaken/to be undertaken by the Government of the Capital.

(c) appropriation of money from the Consolidated Fund of the Capital.

(d) declaration of any expenditure to be expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund of the Capital or increasing the amount of any such expenditure.

(e) the receipt of money on account of the Consolidated Fund of the Capital or the Public Account of the Capital or the custody or issue of such money or the audit of the accounts of the Capital. 

(2) For any of the above-mentioned matters, a Bill/Amendment shall not be deemed to make provisions if they only provide for the imposition of fines/penalties, or for the demand/payment of fees for licences or fees for services rendered, or if they provide for the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax by any local authority for local purposes.

(3) If a Bill, which is enacted, involves expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of the Capital shall not be passed by the Legislative Assembly, provided LG has recommended the consideration of the Bill. 

A procedure as to lapsing of Bills: 

23- (1) A Bill which is pending in the Legislative Assembly shall not lapse due to the prorogation of the Legislative Assembly. 

(2) A Bill which is pending in the Legislative Assembly shall lapse on a dissolution of the Assembly.

Assent to Bills:

24- When a Bill has been passed by the  Legislative Assembly, it shall be presented to the LG and he shall assent/withhold assent/reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President of India. 

LG may return the Bill, presented to him for his assent, if it is not a Money Bill, with a message requesting that the Assembly will reconsider the Bill or any specified provisions by the LG. When a Bill is returned, the Assembly will reconsider the Bill, and if it is passed again with/without amendment and presented to LG for assent, he shall either assent the Bill or reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President of India.

LG shall not provide his assent/reserve Bill for the consideration of the President of India, if:

(a) if it will reduce the powers of the High Court or will endanger the position which that Court is, by the Constitution, designed to fill, upon becoming a law. 

(b) the President may by order direct such a Bill to be reserved for his consideration. 

(c) it is related to the matters mentioned in sub-section (5) of Section 7/Section 19/Section 34/sub-section (3) of Section 43. 

 

Source: MHA

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