New Delhi: The Lok Sabha today passed the contentious Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, also known as Delhi Services Bill, by voice vote. Soon thereafter the opposition members walked out of the House in protest. Union Home Minister Amit Shah hit out at the Opposition claiming it “has exposed itself”. He sought to assure the House that the Bill “is completely Constitutional”.
If passed in the Rajya Sabha too, the Delhi services bill will replace an ordinance – which became a major flashpoint between Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party and the Centre – that overrides a Supreme Court order giving the Delhi government control over most services.
Accusing the opposition parties of “misleading” the public, Shah said that under Article 239 (AA)(3)(B) the Parliament has full power to make laws with respect to the Union Territory of Delhi or any part of it and on any matter related to it. He pointed out that from 1993 to 2015, as per the established rules, the services were under the control of the Central Government. Shah said that since 1993, a proper system was running in Delhi as no one had any intention to usurp the power. Hitting out to the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi, he said after coming to power, suddenly in 2015, it issued a circular in which it took over the powers of transfer and posting. After this, the Central Government brought out a notification which was challenged in the High Court, the judgement of the High Court came in favour of the Central Government, which was then challenged in the Supreme Court. There was a split decision in the Supreme Court and then a Constitution bench was formed, which recently gave its judgement.
Incidentally, three provisions that were part of the ordinance earlier, are dropped from the bill. These included a) dropping of Section 3A, which said that the Delhi assembly won’t have the power to make laws related to services; b) dropping the provision of submitting an annual report of its activities by the National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA) to both Parliament and the Delhi Assembly; and dropping provisions under Section 45D, which deals with appointing chairpersons and members of various authorities, boards, commissions, and statutory bodies in Delhi. It removes the requirement for ‘orders/directions of ministers’ regarding proposals or matters to be referred to the Central Government before the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister.
The bill also introduces a new provision stating that the Lieutenant Governor will now make appointments to Boards and Commissions formed by the Delhi government based on a list of names recommended by the NCCSA. This list will include the Delhi Chief Minister’s recommendations.
Shah said that the Parliament of the country and the Government of India have the right to make all kinds of laws for the Union Territory of Delhi and using that right, a notification was issued because the Parliament was prorogued at that time. He claimed that the need to make rules arose because the governance in Delhi was not being run according to the rules. He pointed out that the Assembly of Union Territory of Delhi is the only assembly in the country, which does not prorogue at all. He added that from 2020 to 2023, it has called only for the budget session. He said that the Delhi government called “very few” cabinet meetings, and kept pending 13 permissions for institutions like AIIMS, and IIT-Delhi. He further claimed that an act was made in 2016 to bring 5G technology, which was accepted by all the states of the country but the Delhi Government did not accept it. He further pointed out that the CAG report has not been tabled in the Delhi Assembly for the last two years. He also accused the Delhi government of targeting the vigilance department “because, the file on the excise scam, the illegal expenditure on the construction of the Chief Minister’s new bungalow, the probe into the expenditure of Rs. 90 crore on the ruling party’s campaign, were there in the vigilance department”.
The Union Home Minister claimed that in the name of Feedback Unit, an independent illegal intelligence department was started by the Delhi government by spending crores of rupees and its investigation file was also under vigilance. “Apart from this, Rs. 21,000 crore was due to BSES and BYPL, yet money was given to a particular company, the file of its investigation was also with the vigilance,” he claimed.
– global bihari bureau