Delhi services Bill likely to be tabled today in LS

Delhi services Bill likely to be tabled today in LS


On Tuesday, the Lok Sabha will hear the introduction of the bill that would replace the Delhi Services Ordinance. The Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) would have the last say on all postings and transfers for officials working for the Delhi government under the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2023.

What is the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2023?

  • Background: The Act seeks to replace the May 19-promulgated Delhi Services Ordinance. The Supreme Court’s ruling on May 11 giving the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi the authority to enact laws and exercise control over officials working for the Delhi government was virtually overturned by the Ordinance.
  • Objective: To “give effect to the intent and purpose behind the provisions of Article 239AA of the Constitution,” as stated in the bill’s aim. The National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT) is granted specific provisions, and Article 239AA specifies the duties of the Legislative Assembly and the Lieutenant-Governor.
  • Designating LG as Authority: The Bill’s most important clause designates the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) as the person who will have the final decision regarding all postings and transfers involving officials working for the Delhi government. This implies that the L-G will exercise major control over Delhi’s administrative appointments.
  • Creation of Authority: The Bill requires the establishment of a special authority to handle senior officer transfers and postings within the Delhi government. The Bill might include a description of this authority’s specifics, such as its structure and methods of operation.
  • Permanent Authority: The Bill proposes creating a permanent authority to oversee the appointment and transfer of senior executives. Along with the Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary, Home, of the Delhi government’s National Capital Territory, the planned authority will be led by the chief minister of Delhi. This power will probably be quite important in appointments to the bureaucracy.

What are the changes made to the ordinance?

  • Dropping Section 3A: Section 3A of the former Ordinance is repealed by the Bill. This section gave the Delhi Legislative Assembly certain authority to enact laws in accordance with Article 239AA, subject to certain restrictions on topics listed in Entry 41 of List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution and any related or incidental matters.
  • Giving L-G Appointment Authority: The Bill gives the Lieutenant-Governor the authority to name the leaders of any boards or commissions that the Delhi Legislative Assembly appoints. As a result, the L-G now has more power to name individuals to important positions in the administration.

What were the problems created by the passing of the ordinance? 

  • Accountability:
      • In a representative democracy, the “triple chain of accountability” is a crucial system. Civil servants are accountable to the cabinet, which is accountable to the Legislative Assembly, and ultimately, the electorate. This system ensures a fair and just government. The act breaks up this line of responsibility by transferring authority over services, such as official appointments and transfers, from the elected government to the lieutenant governor.
      • This calls into question the fundamental tenet of representative governance and casts doubt on the NCT’s ability to operate democratically.
  • Power Struggle: 
      • The ordinance has brought up a conflict of interest between the Lieutenant Governor and the elected government.
      • The elected government claims that the ordinance strips it of its power and violates the Constitution by removing its control over the transfer and posting of officials and important administrative jobs.
      • The Lieutenant Governor, on the other side, insists that the order is vital to guarantee proper government in Delhi.
  • Problems with the Ordinance’s Provisions:
    • The Ordinance gives Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor the authority to nominate people to important administrative positions. This undercuts the elected government’s legitimacy to have a voice in who is chosen to carry out its programs.
    • The ordinance also transfers and posts officials, which was formerly the sole purview of the elected government, to the Lieutenant Governor. The elected government’s capacity to assign officials in accordance with its policy priorities is hampered as a result.
  • Constitutional Issues:
    • The elected government asserts that the law is unconstitutional since the Constitution grants it the authority to select and remove officials.
    • The Constitution’s embedded federalism principle, which emphasizes a clear division of powers between the federal government and state governments, is thought to have been violated by the Lieutenant Governor’s expanded powers under the ordinance.
    • Additionally, the ordinance stipulates that the Lieutenant Governor’s opinion shall take precedence over that of the elected government in the event of a disagreement, thus reducing the latter’s power.