What is The Delhi Services Bill?
The Delhi Services Bill, officially known as the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2023, was officially passed in both the upper and lower houses of Indian parliament on August 7th, 2023, empowering the Centre to make rules for Delhi government officers and employees, including appointment, transfers and terms.
The Bill was passed with 131 votes in favour and 102 against. It will now promulgate into a law once signed by India’s President Droupadi Murmu.
Story so far:
It surrounds on a legal issue about who gets to control various services and administrative matters in Delhi i.e., the Central government or the Delhi Government.
The Supreme Court in its ruling had given the powers to the Delhi government, but the Central government decided to introduce a temporary rule (ordinance) that would change the SC’s order. Now, with the passing of the bill, new changes shall soon be introduced.
Changes Introduced by the Bill:
The Delhi Services Bill grants the Lieutenant Governor the power to exercise sole discretion over various matters, including the National Capital Civil Services Authority’s recommendations and the prorogation, summoning, and dissolution of the Delhi Legislative Assembly. The Lieutenant Governor will have significant control over inquiries and suspensions of officials in the national capital.
Composition of National Capital Civil Services Authority:
The National Capital Civil Services Authority, which will play a crucial role in matters related to civil services in Delhi, and will be composed of the Chief Secretary of Delhi, the Principal Home Secretary of Delhi, and the Delhi Chief Minister.
Central vs Delhi Government:
The bill suggests that certain decisions and powers related to Delhi’s services will be given more control by the central government. This includes things like who holds key official positions, how the Delhi Legislative Assembly (local governing body) functions, and other important matters.
The Aam Aadmi Party has criticised and argued that the bill empowers the Lieutenant Governor and the central government at the expense of the local government’s autonomy and decision-making authority.
Debate Surrounding the Bill:
Overall, The Delhi Services Bill has triggered a heated debate between the central government and the Delhi government, along with opposition parties.
Critics of the bill, including Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, have expressed concerns about the erosion of the constitutional principle of separation of powers and the spirit of federalism. They view the bill as an attempt by the central government to exert control over the functioning of the Delhi government and its administrative apparatus.
Supporters of the bill, including Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, said that the central government has the authority to make laws for Union territories, and since Delhi is a UT, it falls under the central government’s jurisdiction. They argue that the bill aims to ensure smooth governance and administration in the national capital while upholding the legal and constitutional framework.