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Delhi Services Bill

  • Published
    8th Aug, 2023
Context

The Delhi Services Bill, formally called Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2023 has been passed in Rajya Sabha. The Bill has been already passed in the Lok Sabha.

About

What is the new bill all about?

  • Aim:The aim of this bill is to make a corruption-free administration in Delhi. 
  • The Central government will be the rule-making authority.
  • The Delhi Services Bill states that the inquiries and suspensions of the officials of the national capital will be under the Centre's control.
  • LG's decision to be final:The Lieutenant Governor will be empowered to exercise his sole discretion on various matters, which will include the:
    • National Capital Civil Services Authority's recommendations
    • the prorogation, summoning, and dissolution of the Delhi Legislative Assembly
  • National Capital Civil Services Authority (Composition):The Bill provides for the formation of a National Capital Civil Service Authority.
    • The Delhi Chief Minister- the ex-officioChairperson
    • The Chief Secretary– an ex-officio member of this body
    • The Principal Home Secretary of the Delhi government- the ex-officioMember Secretary of the Authority.
      • All matters before the Authority will be decided by voting of the members.

How is the Bill different from the Delhi Services Ordinance?

  • Section 45Dof the Bill deals with the power to appoint authorities, boards, commissions and statutory bodies. 
  • While in the Ordinance, all such powers lay with the President, the Bill has added a sub-clause (b) to the provision to allow the Authority (headed by the Chief Minister) to “recommend a panel of suitable persons for constitution or appointment or nomination by the Lieutenant Governor.”
  • Therefore, the power of the Delhi government in this arena has been limited to only making recommendations. 

Impact of the Bill

  • Centre’s primacy: The Central government is set to have primacy over appointments, transfers and postings of officers in the national capital.
  • Reversal of SC’s verdict:Essentially, the law will reverse the effect of the Supreme Court verdict that had given the Delhi government power over administrative services in Delhi.

SC’s Verdict

  • In May this year, the Supreme Court of India took the decision in favour of the government of Delhi, giving it complete command over most services in the capital, leaving out public order, land, and police. 

Can Parliament enact such laws?

  • The Indian Constitution empowered Parliament to enact laws for the NCT of Delhi.
  • The Supreme Court had affirmed the same in paras 6, 95, 163(f) of its judgment that had restored the services to the Delhi government.  (May 2023 Judgment)
    • The relevant paras in the Supreme Court verdict refer to the difference of opinion of the judges of a Division Bench in their split verdicts on the interpretation of Article 239AA, which deals with special provisions pertaining to Delhi.
    • The judges had differed on whether “services” were excluded in view of Article 239AA(3)(a) from the legislative and executive domain of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD).
    • The Supreme Court had observed that if Parliament enacts a law granting executive power over any subject which is within the domain of NCT Delhi, the executive power of the Lieutenant Governor shall be modified to that extent, as provided in that law. 
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