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Centre brings Bill to define LG’s powers, AAP up in arms

MoS Home G. Kishan Reddy introduces the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in Lok Sabha.

AJEET SRIVASTAVA

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The government on Monday introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha that seeks to define the role and powers of the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi. Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. This has again revived the power tussle between the Delhi L-G and the AAP government in the national capital.

According to the proposed amendments, Sector 21 of the Act—dealing with restrictions on laws passed by legislative Assembly with respect to certain matters—is sought to be revised to clarify that the expression “government” referred to in any law to be made by the legislative Assembly shall mean the ‘Lieutenant Governor’. A sub-section shall be inserted to this effect in Section 21. In section 24 of the principal Act—which requires a Bill passed by the Delhi legislative assembly to be presented to the L-G who may assent, withhold or reserve it for consideration of the President—an additional clause will be inserted to cover any of the matters that fall outside the purview of the powers conferred on the legislative Assembly. In Section 33 of the principal Act, in sub-section (1) after the words “conduct of its business”, the words “which shall not be inconsistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in House of People” shall be inserted.

Also, in the provision, for the words “Provided that”, the following shall be substituted, “Provided that the Legislative Assembly shall not make any rule to enable itself or its Committees to consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the Capital or conduct inquiries in relation to the administrative decisions, and any of the rule made in contravention of this proviso, before the commencement of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, shall be void”.

In Section 44 of the principal Act dealing with powers to makes rules for conduct of business, in sub-section (2)—which states that as otherwise provided in this Act, all executive action of the Lieutenant Governor whether taken on the advice of his Ministers or otherwise shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the Lieutenant Governor—the following proviso shall be inserted, namely: “Provided that before taking any executive action in pursuance of the decision of the Council of Ministers or a Minister, to exercise powers of Government, State Government, Appropriate Government, Lieutenant Governor, Administrator or Chief Commissioner, as the case may be, under any law in force in the Capital, the opinion of Lieutenant Governor in term of proviso to clause (4) of article 239AA of the Constitution shall be obtained on all such matters as may be specified, by a general or special order, by Lieutenant Governor”.

The Centre’s bill that seeks to define certain role and powers of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is democratically and constitutionally “dangerous”, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Monday, and accused the BJP of trying to rule the national capital from the “backdoor”. His remarks came after the Centre introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

“It’s a very dangerous amendment democratically and constitutionally. It will render the elections and elected government in Delhi meaningless,” Sisodia said. The Delhi government will look into the matter and explore options after consulting legal experts. “This amendment by the BJP and its government at the Centre upturns the decision of the Supreme Court and thus the Constitution. After badly losing elections in Delhi and getting zero seat (in municipal bypolls), the BJP is now trying to rule Delhi from the backdoor,” he said. The Supreme Court has decided that the elected government in Delhi has executive powers over matters except public order, police and land. The amendment provides for sending all the files to the L-G, Sisodia said.

Delhi Congress president Anil Chaudhary also opposed the introduction by the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi Act (Amendment) bill, introduced in Parliament today. If the bill is passed it will be a “Black Day” for Delhi and “Murder of Democracy”. The Delhi Congress will hold a dharna at Jantar Mantar against the “Black Bill” on 17 March, he added. 

Responding to the AAP government’s allegations, BJP Delhi state president Adesh Gupta said: “Even after Monday’s amendment bill, 75% of administrative work and powers will reset with Delhi’s local government and it will be better that instead of starting any new power struggle, the Kejriwal government concentrate on giving good governance and developing Delhi.” Gupta welcomed the bill brought in Parliament to amend the GNTC Delhi Act.

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SURAT TEACHERS ORDERED TO REGISTER COVID DEAD BODIES

Abhijit Bhatt

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Surat Corporation has gone too far in handing over the responsibility of Covid-19 management to its employees. Teachers have been assigned Covid-19 work. They are given the task of registering the bodies coming for the funeral. Teachers, along with SMC (Surat Municipal Corporation) employees, will also be on duty in three shifts of eight hours each. It’s teachers responsibility to ensure that there is no disruption in the registration of the bodies coming to the crematorium.

During the pandemic, all SMC employees were assigned different tasks, in which the teachers were asked to be outside the homes of the infected Covid patients.

There were orders to go with Dhanvanri Rath to carry out survey work, and distribute food grains, which were performed by the teachers as part of their duty amid such a difficult situation in the city.

At that time, the teachers who were assigned to the operation of the cemetery have been put in a dilemma.

A teacher, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “The process of registering a body in a cemetery is not appropriate for us.. We made a presentation for our Teachers’ Union last night on this matter. We were given a message about this operation through social media. The Union has informed our appointees to cancel this order. Union officials have also vowed to inform the Municipal Commissioner and the State government about handing over the work to teachers.”

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UTTARAKHAND CM RAWAT CONFIDENT TO CONDUCT HARIDWAR KUMBH MELA SAFELY

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Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat on Friday said that the state government is determined to conduct Haridwar Kumbh Mela safely.

He inaugurated the Command and Control Room and Adarsh Barrack of the Police Surveillance System built for the Kumbh Mela, at the CCR Tower in Haridwar.

On this occasion, the Chief Minister said that the state government is fully committed to the modernization of the police.

He said, “Our government is determined to conduct Haridwar Kumbh Mela safely. 310 CCTV cameras have been installed in the area. Command and Control Room of Police Surveillance System has been set up at CCR Tower, Haridwar.”

(With ANI inputs)

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CELEBRATIONS IN JAMMU AFTER THE RELEASE OF COBRA COMMANDO BY NAXALS

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As soon as the news of Rakeshwar Singh Manhas’ release reached Jammu, there were celebrations not only in his village but in other adjacent villages as well. Earlier his wife Meenu had appealed to the government that her husband should be rescued from the Naxals and the Congress leaders of the Jammu region visited the family and made her talk to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister who assured all help and action.

People in the villages adjacent to his hometown were glued to television sets and expressed their joy when he stepped out of an ambulance as shown by different media channels.

Meenu Manhas exclaimed, “This is the happiest moment in our lives. Hope never died though we were anguished for his safe return. I am thankful to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh and also to the Central government as everyone stood by us.”

Earlier, the relatives of Manhas and villagers protested and blocked the traffic for hours, appealing to the government to intervene and save him from the captivity of Naxals. He was posted in Chhattisgarh and was captured alive by the Naxals in a fierce gun battle in which dozens of his colleagues were killed while over 15 Naxals were also killed.

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DELHI SCHOOLS TO REMAIN SHUT FOR ALL CLASSES AMID COVID SURGE: KEJRIWAL

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Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal

NEW DELHI: The Delhi government on Friday announced that all schools will be shut given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the national capital.

“Due to increasing cases of COVID-19, all schools, government and private, in Delhi are being closed for all classes till further orders,” the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted. Schools have been shut ever since the pandemic broke out last year but for those from Classes 9 to 12 had resumed their classes. The board examinations for Class 10 and Class 12 are slated for May-June.

Several other states and Union territories have also closed down schools and colleges to curb the surging infections.

Delhi on Thursday reported 7,437 fresh cases and 24 related deaths over the last 24 hours. As per the daily health bulletin, the total positive cases in the city now stand at 6,98,005, including 23,181 active cases and 6,63,667 recoveries. So far, 11,157 lives have been claimed by the infectious virus.

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Covid chaos in Gujarat, waiting list in hospitals, cemeteries & crematoria

Abhijit Bhatt

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The state of Covid-19 spread in Ahmedabad seems frightening. The scenario in various cemeteries and crematoria of the city is bad with people waiting for hours for the burial and cremation of the dead bodies.

A total of eight bodies were brought to a cemetery in Vadaj cemetery in the city for burial around the same time. There is also a two-hour wait for the funeral at Thaltej. Both chimneys are currently in operation at the city’s Vadaj crematorium, where relatives of the deceased have been seen waiting.

There are no vacant beds in hospitals because of the surge in Covid-19 cases. As the number of patients keeps on increasing, the beds are getting filled. In some hospitals there is no stock of injections and while at other hospitals videos of missing oxygen are emerging. Extremely heart-rending videos surfaced on Friday at the Vadaj Cemetery in Ahmedabad, where eight bodies were being prepared for burial while many others were waiting in the cemetery. Similar is the case with Thaltej cemetery in Ahmedabad.

As a result of the worsening situation due to Covid-19 in Gujarat, relatives have to wait in hospitals for as long as 12 hours to get the body of the deceased in cities like Rajkot and Surat. Not only that, even after getting the dead body, they have to wait for 8 to 10 hours for cremation. Worse, the rising death toll at Rajkot Civil Hospital is waiting not only for cremation but also for ambulances to take the dead bodies to the cemetery.

In the Nagarwada area of Vadodara, a 65-year-old man died of Covid-19 and his body had to be taken in a handcart as the ambulance was not available to take him to the crematorium.

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ALL-PARTY MEET TO DISCUSS LOCKDOWN IN MAHARASHTRA

State reports 58,993 Covid cases and 301 deaths in 24 hours.

Preeti Sompura

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In view of the alarming spike in Covid-19 cases in the state, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has called an all-party meeting on 10 April. The government will take stock of the Covid-19 situation in the state.

The meeting will be attended by prominent leaders of the three parties involved in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, leaders of BJP, MNS, API, SP, and others.

On Friday, State Disaster Management Minister Vijay Wadettiwar said that he has proposed a complete lockdown in the state, during a virtual meeting earlier in the day, given the continued spike in Covid-19 cases and upcoming festivals. While speaking to India Today, the Minister said that it was crucial to close all shops and establishments to break the chain of the pandemic.

“Every day we are witnessing 50,000 to 60,000 cases. We have 5.31 lakh active cases today. If the upsurge continues like this, we will have over 10 lakh active cases soon,” the Disaster Management Minister said to India Today. “If we have to break the chain, it’s not possible keeping half the shops and establishments open. In the virtual conference that took place today, I have suggested a strict lockdown of three weeks to break the chain,” the Minister said.

Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Pravin Darekar said the decision to organise the all-party meeting was taken this afternoon.

“This decision was taken during the meeting held today to decide the postponement of MPSC exams scheduled for Sunday,” he said.

When asked about the weekend lockdown that comes into force from Friday night, Darekar said the state government should decide on financially supporting small businesses.

Maharashtra Chief Minister will brief all parties regarding the covid situation. Maharashtra is planning a complete three weeks lockdown.

Maharashtra on Friday reported 58,993 coronavirus cases and 301 deaths in 24 hours amid a second wave of infections. Pune, with 10,084 Covid cases, was the worst-affected district today, followed by Mumbai with 9,200 single-day infections.

After the new additions, the total of active cases has reached 5,34,603. The state had reported 56,286 cases and 376 deaths on Thursday.

With Agency Inputs

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