Press Trust of india

Parliament’s ‘interference’ in matters of local bodies against spirit of federal structure: Delhi Assembly Speaker

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New Delhi:  Days after Lok Sabha cleared a bill to reunify the three municipal corporations here, Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel on Friday said it was “against the spirit of Indian Constitution and federal structure” for Parliament to interfere in subject of local bodies.

Addressing a post-Budget press conference in the Assembly premises, he also said that the splitting of the erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was “done through a democratic process”.

“As a Speaker, I have my protocol, but it seems this move (of reunification) has been made only to delay the (civic) polls,” Goel said.

The Assembly Speaker took strong exception to the Centre’s proposal to merge the three corporations of Delhi at a time when the polls were due, while asserting that “any ruling party which has tried to delay polls, in the country’s history, has faced worse consequences”.

The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

The bill seeks to unify the three municipal corporations into a single, integrated and well-equipped entity to ensure a robust mechanism for synergised and strategic planning and optimal utilisation of resources, Home Minister Amit Shah said.

The bill was passed by a voice vote and various amendments moved by the Opposition members were rejected.

“The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill seeks to confer more powers to Centre without any mention of their responsibilities. So, the Delhi government will go on financing the corporation, but the corporation will be controlled by the central government,” Goel said.

“Without going into the political views expressed on this subject, as a Speaker I would like to say that it is against the spirit of our Constitution and federal structure for Parliament to interfere in subject of local bodies,” he told reporters.

In response to questions on the bill and what impact the new unified MCD House might have on the stature of Delhi Assembly, Goel recalled the period before the trifurcation took place on 2011.

“The trifurcation of MCD was done during the Sheila Dikshit regime, and it was done through a democratic process. Malhotra Committee had recommended splitting it into five corporations. In the Delhi Assembly, the amendment bill was brought, and it was divided into three civic bodies,” he said.

The V K Malhotra Committee report in 2004 had recommended division of MCD into five units and had suggested setting up of a “mayor-in-council” for each of them.

Eventually, the Assembly cleared the trifurcation of the MCD into North, South and East corporations in 2011 which was later approved by the Centre.

From 2011 to 2022, it has been 11 years and they “enjoyed this trifurcation” while being in power, but when they realised they were losing power, “so they found a way to escape,” the Speaker said, without naming anyone.

Also, if unification had to be done, could the process not have been started a couple of years ago, rather “it seems this move (of reunification) has been made only to delay the (civic) polls,” he said.

He also said the State Election Commission deferring the announcement of civic poll dates despite calling of a press conference early March, citing barely 30 minutes before the scheduled time that a communication had been received, indicates “intention is wrong”.

“And, intention is so wrong that it is clear,” Goel said.

Such things also “damage the federal structure” and “the Constitution of the country”, he said.

On the budget, Goel said it was a “historic budget” as Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia presented a brilliant ‘Rozgar Budget’ which is first-of-its-kind in the entire world. Besides, the budget presented a roadmap to generate new jobs.

Nineteen members spoke on the budget and expressed their views besides the Deputy Speaker, Minister of Food and Supplies, Minister of Development and Minister of Health. The Chief Minister also expressed his views on the budget, he added.

The House also discussed the plight of Kashmiri Pandit migrants on a notice of Calling Attention. Six members participated in the discussion and the deputy chief minister replied to the discussion.

“As I had announced in the House, we have decided to move towards a paperless Assembly and minimise the use of papers in session-related activities. From next session, we would be circulating all replies, reports and other documents in electronic format only. Our tender process for eVidhan Project is going on and we intend to implement it within six months,” the Speaker said.

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