Delhi ordinance vs bill: Centre makes key changes

Delhi ordinance
Delhi ordinance

The contentious ordinance on the control of services and officials’ posting in Delhi is to be replaced by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Bill, which has undergone significant revisions.  The measure no longer contains three clauses.

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The Delhi services bill, which will be introduced in the Lok Sabha this week, differs significantly from the ordinance introduced on May 19 in that it omits a number of key provisions. The most significant changes are shown below.

The Delhi services bill, formally known as the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, is scheduled to be introduced in Parliament today. It will take the place of an existing ordinance that disobeys a Supreme Court ruling that grants the Delhi government control over the majority of services.  

On May 11, the Supreme Court had decided in favour of the Delhi administration, giving it power over all services provided in the nation’s capital with the exception of those pertaining to public order, land, and the police. The elected administration in Delhi had been given the jurisdiction to handle the transfer and employment of bureaucrats, but on May 19 the Centre presented an act to overturn that ruling.

The GNCTD(Amendment) Bill, 2023, which is slated to replace the Delhi services ordinance, has incorporated some significant changes. These include dropping a contentious provision that was ostensibly added to counteract the effect of the Supreme Court’s judgement from May 11, 2023, which granted the Delhi government control over bureaucrats, and altering how tribunal heads in the national capital are to be appointed.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government and the Centre are at odds with each other over the law. The BJP has been charged by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) with aiming to overthrow the legal system and seize control of the capital’s officers.

Provisions removed

Three provisions have been removed from the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, reported HT. These include:

Removal of Section 3A

The bill does not have the clause that prohibited the Delhi Assembly from passing laws pertaining to “State Public Services and State Public Service Commission.”

The bill no longer contains Section 3A, which was added by the ordinance and permitted the Legislative Assembly to enact laws. The National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA) is created by Article 239AA of the Constitution, which is the section that the bill focuses on.

The Legislative Assembly shall have the power to make laws in accordance with Article 239AA, except with respect to any matter listed in Entry 41 of List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India or any matter connected therewith, according to Section 3A of the ordinance. Article 239-AA(7)

The Centre previously used Article 239-AA(7) to exclude “services” from the scope of the elected government, but it is not included in the bill. The court has questioned this clause and outlined two problems for a constitution bench’s decision.

The National Capital Civil Service Authority was obligated to submit an annual report to Parliament and the Delhi Assembly under the previous ordinance. However, the measure does away with this obligation, making it unnecessary for the report to be presented to both Parliament and the Delhi assembly.

Changes to Section 45D, which governs the nomination of chairs and members of numerous authorities, boards, commissions, and statutory organisations in Delhi, are made under the proposed legislation. ‘Orders/Directions of Ministers’ about plans or proposals.

New provision added

According to a recently added clause in the law, the Lieutenant Governor will nominate members to boards and commissions established by the Delhi government based on a list of candidates suggested by the National Capital Civil Service Authority, which also includes the Delhi Chief Minister. Boards and Commissions are established by law that the Delhi Assembly has passed.

The 2023 Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Ordinance’s Section 3A, which gave the Centre power over the state’s bureaucracy, was questioned by the Supreme Court on July 20. The Delhi government’s challenge to the ordinance was subject of a referral by the court to a Constitution bench of five judges.

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