Rajya Sabha on Monday approved the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023. As the Lok Sabha has already given its nod, now the bill will be sent to the President and with her assent, the bill will become act and replace the ordinance.
The ruling party got support from BJD and other parties, which helped to get the nod after the division of votes went in favour of the motion moved by Home Minister Amit Shah. The division process saw drama due to problems in the automatic vote recording system, the members had to use paper slips to cast their votes. 131 members voted in favour while 102 voted against.
‘Not to usurp power’
Replying to debate on the bill, Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said in Rajya Sabha that the bill to replace an ordinance for handling the transfers and postings of officials in the Delhi government has been brought to safeguard the rights of the people and not to usurp the power of the AAP government.
Replying to a debate on the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, Shah assured that the Upper House the objective of the bill was “only and only to provide efficient, corruption-free governance and popular government.” He also assured the members that there is not even a single provision that changes the status of the system prevailing since the Congress regime.
Shah asserted that the bill is constitutionally valid and it does not violate the Supreme Court judgment from any angle. He said Delhi is different from other states because it houses Parliament, embassies, the Supreme Court and regularly many state heads from different countries visit the national capital. Therefore, Delhi was made a Union Territory. ”Delhi is a Union Territory with an assembly with limited powers,” he said. In future, whoever fights elections in Delhi need to understand this character, Shah added.
Earlier, members of the opposition alliance INDIA on Monday slammed the Centre in the Rajya Sabha over the bill to control the bureaucracy in Delhi, saying the proposed legislation was “unconstitutional” and against the spirit of federalism.
The opposition bloc also got support from Telanagana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s BRS, which saw the bill as a move to usurp powers of an elected government in Delhi, and asked the House to vote against it. Initiating the debate, Congress leader and noted lawyer Abhishek Singhvi termed the Delhi services bill “unconstitutional” and “anti-democratic” and appealed to all opposition parties to oppose it with the warning that “someday this anti-federal knock will come” at their door too. He accused the government of bringing the bill out of “vendetta” and said it was against two verdicts of the Supreme Court Constitution Bench.
Leader of the AAP, which has a government in Delhi, Raghav Chadha said the Delhi services bill is a “political fraud” and “constitutional sin” aimed at taking away the powers of an elected government in the national capital. Chadha termed the bill as “the most anti-constitutional, illegal, undemocratic legislation ever presented” in the House. “I am stating today not representing two crore people of Delhi but 135 crore people of this country,” he said.
“Garb of administrative efficacy”
Participating in the debate, Vaiko of MDMK opposed the bill terming it as undemocratic and said it strikes at the root of democracy, federal spirit, secularism and social justice. “The bill which has been brought in the garb of administrative efficacy is many ways appears to erode democratic fabric, which is interesting to the Indian polity,” he said adding it will render the Chief Minister’s authority and is a deviation from the State list.
Javed Ali khan of the Samajwadi Party said if the bill is passed then the status of the Chief Minister would be even lower than that the chairman of a municipal corporation and town area. Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) member K Keshava Rao said the ordinance has come with malafide intention. He said if someone is corrupt then the home minister has the right to act against the person. “Without constitutional morality, ‘dharma’ can never be established,” Rao said.
RJD member Manoj Jha said that it’s a regressive bill and that a quorum will be made under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister which is “an instrument to decimate idea of an elected government.
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