Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s demand that the Delhi government and not the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) should be in charge of the Delhi Police, will require legislative action by Parliament.
“The Parliament would need to pass an amendment Bill if Delhi Police is to be put under the charge of the state government. This can’t be done through an executive order,” an MHA official said.
Because, the Constitution (69th Amendment Bill), introduced in Parliament by then Union Home Minister S B Chavan in December 1991, granted only partial statehood to Delhi. Entries 1, 2 and 18 of the State List of Seventh Schedule, which deal with public order, police and land, continued to be under the Central government.
Not only this, the State of Delhi Bill, 2003 — introduced in the Lok Sabha by then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani — which proposed full statehood to the National Capital Territory of Delhi through an amendment to the Constitution, also proposed to keep police and public order under the purview of the Centre. The Bill lapsed when the term of the Lok Sabha ended.
According to official documents accessed by Newsline, the Union Cabinet, in December 1991, decided to “reorganise” Delhi to cater to “the persistent demand from political parties and the citizens of Delhi for a representative form of government”. At the time, the Cabinet “expressly excluded” from the purview of the proposed Delhi Assembly powers to legislate on issues concerning law and order, police and land.
According to the Cabinet note dated December 9, 1991, signed by then Union Home Secretary Madhav Godbole, the decision to keep Delhi’s status as a Union Territory (UT) but with a legislature of its own was taken on the recommendations of the S Balakrishnan Committee.
The committee, formed in December 1987, was asked to “go into various issues connected with the administration of the UT of Delhi”.
In its two-part report, the Balakrishnan panel suggested three options for Delhi — full statehood, partial statehood but with an Assembly and, lastly, UT status but with special Constitutional status.
On May 29, 1990, the Union Cabinet decided to amend the Constitution to grant “statehood” to Delhi and a Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on May 31, 1990. However, the Bill lapsed on the dissolution of the House.
The issue was then discussed by the Cabinet Committee on Police Affairs on December 3, 1991, which recommended continuation of UT status with a legislative Assembly and council of ministers “subject to the overall control by the Union and certain safeguards….”