The centre today introduced in Lok Sabha the contentious Bill through which it wants to cement its control over bureaucrats in Delhi.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, aims to replace the ordinance that the centre brought after a Supreme Court ruling in the favour of the Aam Aadmi Party government in the national capital. The centre has sought a review of the judgment.
The bill, tabled by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, empowers the centre to make rules on postings and transfers of Delhi’s officials. Even action such as suspensions and inquiries of the national capital’s officials would be under the control of the centre, the Bill proposes. In effect, the Bill would consolidate the control of the office of the Lieutenant Governor — a central appointee — over Delhi bureaucrats.
Soon after the Bill was tabled, the AAP said this Bill aims to replace “democracy with babucracy” in the national capital.
Party leader and Rajya Sabha MP said this Bill is even worse than the ordinance it aims to replace.
He termed the legislation the “most undemocratic, illegal piece of paper” ever tabled in Parliament and said alleged that it snatches all powers from the elected government and hands them over to the Lieutenant Governor and ‘babus’.
The Bill, he said, is an assault on India’s federal structure, democracy, and constitution.
This centre’s attempt to push this legislation has become a rallying point for Opposition parties under the INDIA bloc. The Congress, which had initially refused to back AAP in its fight, has also come around.
On the legal front, the Supreme Court has said a five-judge constitution bench will examine whether Parliament can “abrogate the constitutional principles of governance” for Delhi government.
A 10-page order, penned by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, has pointed to two preliminary issues.
“The first is on the import of Section 3A (of the ordinance). Section 3A removes Entry 41 (services) of List II (State List) from the legislative competence of the NCTD. On the exclusion of Entry 41 from the NCTD’s legislative power, the government of the NCTD ceases to have executive power over services because executive power is co-terminus with the legislative power,” the order said.
The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that the elected government in Delhi will have control on officers, except those working in land, public order and police.
The Bill has been tabled amid an impasse in both Houses of Parliament over the situation in Manipur. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have seen little business since Parliament’s monsoon session began on July 20. While the government has agreed to the Opposition’s demand for a discussion in Rajya Sabha, there is a disagreement over the rule under which it should be held. The Opposition also wants a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a demand the treasury benches have declined. In its push to get the Prime Minister to address the House, the Opposition, now united under the bloc INDIA, has brought a no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha.