After a few days of debate, the Rajya Sabha passed the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi Services Bill. The Bill was passed with 131 members voting in favor of it and 102 voting against it. Apart from the NDA constituents, the Bill got the support of members from the BJD and YSRCP. The Delhi Ordinance Bill proposes that actions like suspensions and inquiries of the national capital’s officials would be under the control of the center. On May 19, the Central Government propagated an ordinance that creates the authority for the transfer and posting of Group A officers in Delhi. The ordinance was brought in days after the Supreme Court ruled that Delhi’s elected government has control over services except in matters of law and order, police, and land.
If the ordinance is passed by both Houses of Parliament, the elected government of Delhi will have no authority to transfer its officers. After passing this bill, Arvind Kejriwal would be like a sterilized animal, his wings and claws clipped. Any way he went, he was always hassled by the central government. Arvind’s popularity has grown among middle-class families. From the past twenty-five years Delhi never gave mandate to the BJP. AAP has really challenged the BJP in spite of all the tricks being played against him. For three decades, the Congress and BJP played the roles of power and opposition by turns. Being seasoned politicians, they know their limits and have never dared to cross the line.
Currently in the Rajya Sabha, there are a total of 245 seats, of which eight are vacant, bringing the total number of seats to 237. The majority mark to pass the Bill in the Rajya Sabha will be 119. On the other hand, the combined numbers of all parties that have extended support to the AAP, including the Congress, are 105. The Delhi Services Bill, formally called Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2023, is being tabled in the Indian Parliament and is set to replace a current ordinance that overrides a directive of the Supreme Court that had given command to the government of Delhi over most services.
The ordinance has been a major reason for contention between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party and the central government. On May 11, the Supreme Court of India took the decision in favor of the government of Delhi, giving it complete command over most services in the capital, leaving out public order, land, and police. On May 19, the Center tabled an ordinance that gave authority to the Delhi government to make recommendations to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor on matters of transfer of postings, vigilance, and other incidental issues.
The BJP-led Center was slammed by the AAP government for trying to subvert law and order and take control of the bureaucracy in the capital city. Last Thursday (August 3), the Lok Sabha passed a bill that will translate an ordinance into law and give powers to the Center-appointed bureaucrats to overrule the elected chief minister and senior officers in the Delhi government, even as the opposition parties held a walkout.
The opposition believes that the passing of this bill is a subversion of the constitutional separation of powers. He added that the country is now seeing “coercive federalism”. The proposed bill is a representation of a “grave chapter in the history of the Indian republic, seeking to ratify an ordinance that in many ways is an assault on our democratic heritage and the spirit of federalism”.
The Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, seeks to replace the ordinance brought by the Centre in May, which excluded ‘services’ from the legislative competence of the Delhi legislative assembly. The Delhi ordinance was promulgated by the central government a week after the Supreme Court handed over the control of services in Delhi, excluding police, public order, and land, to the elected government, headed by CM Arvind Kejriwal.
Earlier today, AAP MP Raghav Chadha said the bill is “political fraud, a constitutional sin, and will create an administrative logjam”. Chadha said that the BJP had been demanding statehood for Delhi for almost 40 years and promised the same in its election manifesto. The AAP leader said that the BJP has destroyed the 40 years of hard work of its leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishan Advani to make Delhi a full state. The Delhi Ordinance Bill will also empower the Lieutenant Governor to exercise their sole discretion on several matters, including those recommended by the National Capital Civil Services Authority and the summoning, prorogation, and dissolution of the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
A government that was formed after a movement in 2015 says that the center wants to usurp power. We do not want to usurp power. People have given us power. This Bill is to block the State government from interfering with the center’s powers. Amit Shah did not have a single valid argument in favor of the Delhi services bill. It is fundamentally anti-democratic. It is a frontal assault on the regional voice and the regional aspirations of the people of Delhi. It violates all principles of federalism, all norms of civil service accountability, and all models of Assembly-based democracy. It violates the basic structure.