Delhi Services Bill: The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which deals with transfers and postings of senior officers in the Delhi government, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Monday with 131 votes amid support from fence-sitter parties like BJD and YSR Congress Party. The legislation was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 3 and now awaits approval from the President to become law.
The bill was tabled by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the Upper House to replace an ordinance that was promulgated by the Centre on May 19. It was passed with 131 votes in favour and 102 votes against the motion.
The Centre brought the ordinance a week after the Supreme Court handed over the control of services in Delhi, excluding police, public order and land, to the elected government.
Amit Shah said the aim of the bill was to make sure there was a “corruption-free administration in Delhi” and it doesn’t violate the Supreme Court order.
“Earlier, there were no fights over transfer postings in Delhi, no CMs had any problems… In 2015, a govt came up after an ‘andolan’… Some people said that the Centre wants to take power into its hands. The Centre doesn’t need to do so as the people of India have given us the power and the right,” the Union Home Minister said, as quoted by news agency ANI.
The debate saw fiery speeches by Congress’ Abhishek Manu Singhvi and AAP’s Raghav Chadha, who called the bill “unconstitutional” and “anti-democratic”.
Initiating the discussion, senior Congress leader and advocate Singhvi called the BJP dispensation a “control freak” and said no government in the past had ever tried to overrule the status of the Delhi government.
“This bill is completely unconstitutional. 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, all models of assembly based democracy,” Singhvi said.
“Someday this anti-federal knock will come at your door,” Singhvi said, asking all parties to unite and oppose the bill.
AAP MP Raghav Chadha called the bill a “political fraud, constitutional sin” aimed at creating an “administrative logjam”.
Chadha said that the BJP had been demanding statehood for Delhi and promised the same in its election manifesto. The AAP leader said BJP stalwarts like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani had worked hard to make Delhi a full state.
In a swipe at Amit Shah for invoking former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to back the legislation, Chadha said the BJP leader should become “Adavani-vadi” and not “Nehru-vadi”.
Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said the bill was “perfectly, legitimately valid”.
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