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Delhi services Bill clears Rajya Sabha, Centre keeps control of capital’s bureaucrats


New Delhi: The Delhi Services Bill cleared Rajya Sabha Monday by a majority vote, giving the central government full control over the transfer and postings of the capital’s bureaucrats.

The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was passed in the Lok Sabha Thursday amid sharp exchanges, which resulted in Opposition legislators walking out of the House.

While the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had a majority in the Lok Sabha, they managed to pass the Bill in the Upper House with the help of traditional allies the YSR Congress and the Biju Janata Dal.

These parties, with nine MPs each, gave the NDA the required numbers to pass the Bill in the 245-member Rajya Sabha, where the ruling alliance has 105 MPs. In the voting Monday, 131 MPs were in favour in the Upper House where the present strength is 237.

The Opposition, which rallied together to challenge the Bill, had accused the Narendra Modi government of subverting democratic principles.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Bill was a fraud committed on the people of Delhi which had elected his party, the Aam Aadmi Party, twice to power.

The Bill, which will be an Act after the President’s nod, took the route of an ordinance which the Centre issued on 19 May, practically overriding a Supreme Court ruling that gave the elected Delhi government power over the city’s Group A officers.

After the top court’s verdict on 11 May, the Centre promulgated the ordinance to set up the National Capital Civil Service Authority for the transfer and posting of officers in Delhi.

The Chief Minister is one of the three members of the Authority, while the other two are bureaucrats.

The decisions by the Authority are to be taken by a majority vote and, in the event of a dispute, the matter would be referred to the Lieutenant Governor – who reports to the Centre – whose decision would be final.

The ordinance needed to be passed in both Houses of Parliament within six months of being issued to become an Act – after the President’s approval.

In the Rajya Sabha Monday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the Bill did not violate the Supreme Court judgement, adding that it aimed at effective, corruption-free governance in the national capital.

He said the Bill was brought not to usurp the powers of the Delhi government, but to stop encroachment on the Centre’s rights.

Shah said such a Bill could only be introduced for a Union Territory. “This is the problem in mentality when one fights elections of a Union Territory but seeks the powers of a state,” Shah said, critiquing the AAP government.

He also said the Congress government had amended the Constitution to give Parliament powers to frame laws for Delhi on all subjects, including the services.

Shah said the Congress was opposing the Bill now to appease Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party, while the Centre was trying to safeguard the rights of Delhi’s people.

Shah slammed the AAP government for transferring officers after the Supreme Court ruling – particularly those who were probing the liquor scam and the money spent on refurbishing Arvind Kejriwal’s bungalow.

He said the services Bill was brought because the AAP government did not adhere to rules. Shah also took a swipe at the Kejriwal-led Delhi government and said it would quit the INDIA bloc after this Bill was passed.

Rajya Sabha also rejected by a voice vote the Opposition’s motion to send the Delhi services Bill to a select committee of the House.

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