Delhi’s lieutenant governor has become the effective in-charge of the national capital with the Centre notifying a new law making it clear the city’s elected government will now have to seek the opinion of the L-G before any executive decision.

The Union Home Ministry’s notification giving effect to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021 came on Tuesday night, as the city battles a ferocious Covid-19 wave and its healthcare system is stretched to breaking point. The provisions of the Act came into effect from April 27, according to the notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Three key subjects in Delhi ~ public order, police and land ~ are already in the hands of the Central government while sectors such as health, education, agriculture, forest and transport are with the city government.

The MHA notification seals the primacy given to the L-G, a nominee of the Central government, in the Act. The Delhi government will now have to take permission from the L-G before taking any action over subjects which were under its domain. According to the legislation, the “government” in Delhi now means the “Lieutenant Governor”.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act 2021 (15 of 2021), the Central Government hereby appoints the 27th April 2021 as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force,” stated the notification signed by additional secretary in the MHA, Govind Mohan.

The act has been notified at a time the Centre and the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government are under the spotlight over their handling of the pandemic and the subsequent scarcity of oxygen, hospital beds and essential medicines. On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court came down heavily on the AAP government over its “failure” to check black marketing of oxygen cylinders and crucial medicines needed by Covid-19 patients. If the state cannot handle the situation, it will ask the Central government to take over gas re-filler units as it can’t let people die, the court said.