President gives assent to Delhi services bill


New Delhi: The Delhi services bill that entails the creation of an authority for the transfer and posting of Group-A officers in the national capital and gives the central government primacy over such appointments has received presidential assent.

In a notification, the Ministry of Law and Justice said that President Droupadi Murmu has given her assent to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2023.

With this, the legislation becomes a law and replaces the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023, an official said.

The legislation was passed by Rajya Sabha on August 7, after a challenge by the Aam Aadmi Party and other opposition parties was defeated, and by Lok Sabha on August 3.

The Act gives the Delhi Lieutenant Governor the final say on the transfer and posting of officials of the city government and strengthens the central government’s control over the national capital.

The Supreme Court had on May 11 ruled that the elected government of Delhi has control over services in the national capital, excluding the matters relating to public order, police and land.

Subsequently, on May 19, the Centre promulgated the ordinance to create an authority for the transfer and posting of Group-A officers in Delhi.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said in Rajya Sabha: “We have not brought this Bill to grab power for the Centre. The Delhi government is trying to encroach on the Centre’s powers and the Bill has been brought to legally stop them from doing so”.

Shah had also attacked the Congress, claiming it was opposing a constitutional amendment it had brought earlier to appease its alliance partners for political reasons.

He earlier said Delhi did not have full powers of a state and anyone seeking to govern it should consider that.

“If you contest the election in Delhi, just keep in mind that it is not a state but a Union territory. If you dream to become the prime minister, then you will have to contest the MP (parliamentary) elections and cannot fulfil your dream by contesting the MLA (assembly) elections in a Union territory,” he said.

The Act gives the central government primacy over the Delhi government on the appointment of officers belonging to the All India Services and DANICS.

All transfers and postings of senior officers in the Delhi government will be done by a three-member committee headed by the Delhi chief minister and comprising the chief secretary and the principal secretary (Home) of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, “With a view to give effect to the intent and purpose behind the provisions of article 239AA of the Constitution, a permanent authority, headed by the Chief Minister of Delhi… is being constituted to make recommendations to the Lieutenant Governor regarding matters concerning transfer postings, vigilance and other matters,” according to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill.

The National Capital Civil Service Authority shall have the responsibility to recommend the transfers and postings of all Group ‘A’ officers (IAS) and officers of DANICS serving in the Delhi government.

It says that this would balance the interest of the nation with the interest of the Union territory of Delhi in the administration of the capital to the manifestation of the will of the people reposed in the central government as well as the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

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