The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill-2022 that is aimed at unifying the three municipal corporations of Delhi into a “single, integrated and well-equipped entity”, was passed in the Lok Sabha by a voice vote on Wednesday.
The Bill that seeks to amend The Delhi Municipal Corporation Act-1957 was passed after a heated debate in which 20 members participated.
Replying to the debate on the Bill, Home Minister Amit Shah rejected the Opposition’s charge that “the Centre is encroaching on the federal structure and taking away rights of the states”. “I would like to make it clear before the House that I have brought this Bill under the powers given under Article 239AA,” Shah said.
He said the Centre brought this Bill because Delhi is a Union Territory. The Centre cannot bring such a Bill in Gujarat or Bengal, he said, adding that the Bill is “completely constitutional”. “An attempt is being made to spread a big misconception, I reject it entirely,” Shah said.
Earlier in the day, moving the Bill for consideration of the House, Shah said that the Delhi government is giving “step-motherly treatment” to all three municipal corporations of Delhi. Rejecting the Opposition’s charge that the Bill has been brought with political motives, Shah clarified that the Bill is aimed at bringing reforms in the existing system. “Besides this, there is no other motive,” Shah said.
Opening the debate, Congress member Manish Tewari opposed the Bill, saying it is beyond the legislative competence of Parliament. “If there is any House that has legislative competence to amend this law, it is the Delhi assembly,” Tewari said.
Referring to the Bill’s provisions regarding delimitation of wards after the unification of the MCD, Tewari wanted to know from the Home Minister as to which data will be used for delimitation. He asked, “Will the municipal corporation not be constituted in Delhi in the next two years?”
His colleague, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, too, hit out at the government. “The crux of this legislative document clearly indicates that this government has been hell-bent upon encroaching upon the jurisdiction of the state, while undermining the cooperative federalism,” Chowdhury said.
DMK MP Dr Veeraswamy Kalanidhi questioned the urgency to bring this Bill.
Opposing the Bill, TMC member Mahua Moitra said the Bill was in violation of Article 243U of the Constitution vis-à-vis the delay in conducting municipal polls in Delhi.
On the Opposition’s charge that the BJP brought this Bill because the party was afraid of facing the MCD elections in view of the recent electoral win of AAP, Shah said, “BJP workers don’t need to be afraid of anyone. We have formed governments in four states and we have full confidence that we will win under the leadership of Modi ji wherever elections are held.”
BSP member Kunwar Danish Ali said “the government continues to attack the federal structure of the country”. He alleged that the government did not hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir on the pretext of delimitation and the same template is being repeated in Delhi.
Referring to observations made by the Opposition members regarding elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Shah said that the elections will be held after the delimitation. “Hamein Rashtrapati shashan lane ka koi shauk nahin hai. (We do not wish to impose President’s rule),” Shah said.