The Bill was passed with 131 votes in favour and 102 against.
No violation of SC order: Shah
“The Delhi Services Bill has been brought in not to usurp powers of the Delhi government, but to stop encroachment on Centre’s right by it. The Delhi Services Bill in no way violates Supreme Court judgement … it is aimed at effective, corruption-free governance in the national capital,” Union home minister Amit Shah said during a heated debate in Rajya Sabha.
The home minister further said the Centre had to bring in an ordinance for services as the AAP government in Delhi “transferred officers in the vigilance department as liquor scam files were with it … After SC ruling, the AAP government ordered immediate transfers in vigilance department as it was probing scams, including ‘excise policy scam’ and ‘CM house renovation scam'”.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had fought tooth-and-nail to defeat the legislation, which it has said is “unconstitutional” and “renders the elected government of Delhi ineffective”. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had drummed up support from opposition parties against the Bill, especially in the Rajya Sabha.
Home minister takes swipe at INDIA
Shah said it was the Congress government that had amended the Constitution “giving Parliament powers to frame laws for Delhi on all subjects, including services”. “The Congress is now opposing the Delhi Services Bill only to appease the Aam Aadmi Party,” he added. The minister also took a swipe at Congress, saying Kejriwal will quit opposition bloc INDIA once the “Delhi services bill is passed”.
Earlier on August 3, the Delhi Services Bill was passed in Lok Sabha by a voice vote after a walkout by members of INDIA alliance.
Several opposition leaders have said that the legislation is an “experimental bill” brought by the BJP to weaken the federal structure of the country. “Wherever there are non-BJP governments, similar bills will be brought to weaken the governments,” AAP MP Sushil Gupta said.
“Everyone is talking about the rights of a state. But which state? Delhi is not a state but a Union Territory … Parliament has the right to make laws for Delhi … Such a bill can only be introduced for a Union Territory. This is the problem of mentality that one is fighting elections of a UT but seeking powers of a state,” added Shah.
The Bill was passed with 131 votes for and 102 against.
In the Rajya Sabha, there are a total of 245 seats, out of which 8 are currently vacant. This means the current strength is 237. Thus, the majority mark to pass the Bill in the Upper House was 119.
The combined strength of all the parties that have extended support to the Aam Aadmi Party, including the Congress, was around 107.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had drummed up support from opposition parties against the Bill, especially in the Rajya Sabha.
Meanwhile, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has 112 seats. With support from BJD’s 9 seats, YSRCP’s 9 seats, and TDP’s 1 seat, the total reached 131 seats, paving the way for the Bill to be passed in the Upper House.
Implications of the new law
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, modifies the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, which defines the powers and functions of the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) and the elected government of Delhi.
The bill has several implications for the governance of Delhi, which is a union territory with a special status under the Constitution.
- It makes the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi the final authority in matters related to postings and transfers of all bureaucrats serving under the Delhi government. The L-G will have the power to decide on the appointments and transfers of senior officers in the Delhi administration.
- The L-G will also be given the power to appoint the heads of boards or commissions enacted by the Delhi Assembly.
- The legislation has provisions for setting up the National Capital Civil Service Authority, which will be responsible for recommending transfers and postings of all Group ‘A’ officers (Indian Administrative Service – IAS) and officers of DANICS (Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service) serving in the Delhi government.
- The NCCSA will be chaired by the CM of Delhi, who will be the ex-officio chairperson of the authority.
Participating in Monday’s debate, BJP MP Sudhanshu Trivedi said, “In the Supreme Court verdict of 105 pages, nowhere it is mentioned anything against passing a law on Delhi … In the Supreme Court order, in paragraphs 86, 95 and 164 F, it is mentioned that Parliament has all the rights to form a law for Delhi.”
Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi, however, slammed the BJP’s approach “to control by hook or crook”.
“This bill is completely unconstitutional, it is fundamentally anti-democratic, and it is a front-term assault on the regional voice and 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.”
AAP Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha highlighted how the BJP had repeatedly made the poll promise that it would give full statehood status to Delhi and had even moved a legislation during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime to implement the promise.
“The Bill brought by the BJP today is an insult not only to the Constitution and democracy but also L K Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Madan Lal Khurana, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and their 40-year fight to grant full statehood to Delhi,” Chadha said, adding that the BJP is turning its back on the promise as it has been unable to win assembly elections in Delhi in 25 years.
He further said that the Bill is a “political fraud, Constitutional sin and will create an administrative logjam”.
The YSRCP and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) extended their support to the Bill.
Former CJI and nominated MP Ranjan Gogoi said that according to the Constitution, the state legislature makes laws for the states and Parliament makes laws for the UTs. “For NCT of Delhi, the legislature makes laws on state subjects except three. By virtue of 239AA(3)(b), Parliament has the power to frame laws beyond these three. That is exactly what the Bill is seeking to to. Therefore there is no question of overreach (SC order).”
(With inputs from agencies)