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Parliament Passes Bill Granting Control of Delhi’s Administrative Services to Centre

Parliament Passes Bill Granting Control of Delhi’s Administrative Services to Centre

The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which grants the Central government extensive authority in matters concerning administrative control over services within the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, received resounding approval in the Rajya Sabha on Monday. The bill, aimed at conferring overriding powers to the Centre in relation to the administration of Delhi, was passed with a substantial majority. During the session, the bill garnered significant support from Rajya Sabha members, resulting in 131 votes in favor and 102 against its passage.

The passage of this bill underscores a significant development in the governance structure of Delhi. By vesting the Central government with enhanced control over administrative aspects, the bill has triggered notable debates and discussions regarding the distribution of authority and decision-making processes within the capital’s administration. The results of the Rajya Sabha vote reflect the diverse perspectives on this legislative change, further highlighting the importance and impact of this amendment on Delhi’s administrative landscape.

The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, provides substantial authority to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor, enabling uninterrupted control over several crucial aspects of the Delhi government. This includes the power to transfer senior officers within the Delhi government and to supervise its overall functioning. Furthermore, the bill grants the Lieutenant Governor the ability to define the terms and conditions of service for both officers and employees within the government.

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Previously, the bill had received clearance from the Lok Sabha on August 4th, indicating initial approval of its provisions by the lower house of the Indian Parliament. The bill’s endorsement by both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha emphasizes its potential to usher in significant changes in the administrative landscape of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. This legislative development has spurred discussions and debates surrounding the division of powers and the potential implications for the governance structure in the capital region.

During the discussion on the bill, the Union Home Minister expressed his support for the proposed changes, asserting that the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, would contribute to a more efficient and transparent functioning of the Delhi administration. The Home Minister, while advocating for the bill, highlighted its potential to foster improved governance within the national capital.

According to the Union Home Minister’s perspective, the bill is anticipated to play a crucial role in ensuring corruption-free governance in Delhi. By granting the Delhi Lieutenant Governor enhanced powers in matters of administrative control and decision-making, the bill is expected to facilitate a more streamlined and accountable approach to managing affairs within the national capital. The Home Minister’s endorsement underscores the government’s intent to bring about positive changes in the administration of Delhi, aligning with the goal of promoting transparency and effectiveness in governance.

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During the deliberations in the Rajya Sabha, Congress leader P. Chidambaram expressed his strong dissent against the bill, characterizing it as ‘unconstitutional’. He contended that the proposed legislation contradicted the principles of the federal structure embedded in the constitution. Chidambaram articulated his belief that the bill, if enacted, would essentially disrupt the constitutional framework and likened its passage to undermining the very structure envisioned by the Constitution.

Chidambaram’s stance on the bill signifies a viewpoint critical of the potential implications of the proposed changes on the balance of power and decision-making between the central and state governments. His objection highlights concerns that the bill could potentially compromise the intended framework of governance as enshrined in the Indian Constitution, leading to a contentious debate over the preservation of federalism and the authority of the regional government in Delhi.

The recently approved bill, which has received clearance from both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, is set to replace the ordinance dated May 19, sanctioned by the Central government. This ordinance was issued in response to a Supreme Court ruling that granted control over services—excluding matters related to police, public order, and land—to the Delhi government.

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In opposition to the bill, a collective alliance of 36 opposition parties formed the I.N.D.I.A coalition in the Parliament, aiming to contest the legislation. However, the Central government has maintained its position, citing the Supreme Court’s judgment as the foundation for its authority to enact laws pertaining to Union territories.

This legislative process and the subsequent formation of the I.N.D.I.A alliance underscore the multifaceted nature of governance, lawmaking, and the interpretation of legal principles within the Indian political landscape. The conflicting viewpoints among different parties and the engagement of multiple stakeholders highlight the complexity and significance of the issues at hand.

With the implementation of the new legislation, a significant shift in the decision-making framework regarding transfer and postings of Delhi government officials is set to take place. Under this legislation, the Delhi Lieutenant Governor will play a central role in overseeing all matters related to these administrative aspects. Notably, The National Capital Civil Service Authority will be established as a pivotal body responsible for approving key decisions.

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The composition of The National Capital Civil Service Authority will comprise a board led by the Delhi Chief Minister. This board will feature two additional members, including the Delhi Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary. As a result, these three individuals will hold influential positions within this decision-making body, signifying their roles in shaping the administrative landscape and ensuring that crucial personnel-related decisions align with the goals and priorities of the Delhi government. The establishment of this authority reflects the evolving dynamics of power distribution and governance structures within the National Capital Territory.

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