MCD Explained: Why Is AAP Jittery About Members Nominated by Delhi LG?
It has been more than a month since results for the MCD elections were announced. But the 'Mayor', 'Deputy Mayor' and 'Members of the Standing Committee' posts continue to remain vacant.
The elections for the same were scheduled on 6 January 2022. However, chaos ensued at the Civic Centre before the newly elected House could vote.
The Aam Aadmi Party, which has won 134 seats in the MCD was the front runner for the post of Mayor and Deputy Mayor. However, the party was doubtful of being upstaged by the BJP, especially in the elections for the standing committee.
On the day of the oath-taking ceremony, the party's MLAs and councillors disrupted the proceedings by jumping into the well of the House, destroying microphones, and using violence and intimidation tactics.
Since then, it has opened a new front against the Delhi LG, V.K. Saxena, over nomination of 10 aldermen as well as the presiding officer, Satya Sharma.
On the Presiding Officer
According to AAP, the senior most member of the House is to be appointed the presiding officer.
However, as per the section 77 of the Municipal Corporation Act, for the election of a Mayor, the Administrator shall nominate a councillor, who is not a candidate for such election to preside over the meeting.
The provisions of the Act do not specify on the seniority of the officer.
What is a Standing Committee?
The standing committee is a high-powered committee that is the main decision-making body. Along with administrative tasks, it also has the power to take policy and financial calls.
The mayor, on the other hand, is only a nominal head.
Constitution of the Standing Committee?
In total, the Standing Committee has 18 members. Out of the 18 members, six are elected by the councillors through a preferential voting system. The councillor receiving the most votes out of the first 36 votes cast is declared a winner.
The other 12 are nominated by ward committees heading administrative zones in Delhi. For smoother functioning, MCD is divided into 12 zones. These zones include Central Delhi, Sadar Paharganj, Civil Lines, Karol Bagh, Keshav Puram, Najafgarh, Narela, North Shahdara, Rohini, South Shahdara, South Delhi and West Delhi.
A ward committee consists of all the councillors in an administrative zone, including the members nominated by the Lt Governor of Delhi.
Going by the strength of each party, AAP is in a strong position to win seven out of 12 seats in the standing committee. While BJP, with 105 seats, is confident of winning four out of 12.
Role of Aldermen
The 10 nominated members, called the aldermen, are empowered to vote in the ward committees.
There is no defined limit to the number of aldermen allowed to be nominated from each ward and is dependent on the discretion of the LG.
AAP Vs Delhi LG On "Administrator"
AAP’s objection to the aldermen being nominated by the LG emanates from the fear of the party’s power being diluted in more ward committees. Earlier, they had objected to the LG declaring the aldermen and claimed that he could do so only after consulting the Delhi government.
However, Delhi LG defended his decision by quoting sub-clause (i) of b) of sub-section (3) of section 3 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 (66 of 1957). The Act “states ten persons, who are not less than 25 years of age and who have special knowledge or experience in municipal administration, to be nominated by the Administrator.”
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in a letter to the Delhi LG, sought clarification over his official position on the term “LG/Administrator” used in the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act.
In reply, the Delhi LG wrote to the CM and complimented him for taking interest in governance in the City and trying to understand “the intricacies of Constitutional provisions, Statutes and Acts that outline the multi-layered scheme of administration in the National Capital Territory of Delhi."
He added, “The provisions governing administration in Delhi emanate out of serious deliberations in the Constituent Assembly, State Reorganization Commission and the Parliament of India, apart from having been clearly interpreted by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India on several occasions”, while inviting the CM to resume daily meetings for conflict-free governance in the interest of the people of Delhi.
It is yet to be seen whether the Delhi government would take Delhi LG’s invitation for talks in a constructive way or continue to halt the functioning of the House till they are allowed to have their way.
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