Amit Shah
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the fight against drugs won’t be over until the financial chain of drug smugglers is not broken. File photo

Delhi services bill introduced in Lok Sabha amid Opposition protest; Shah defends it

Although the AAP has just one member in the Lok Sabha, the entire Opposition united against the government on Tuesday when it tabled a controversial bill aimed at snatching powers over bureaucracy from the Delhi government even as Union Home Minister Amit Shah justified the move.

The proposed legislation, which gives Delhi’s Lt Governor a final say on the transfer and posting of officials of the city government, will strengthen the Centre’s control over the national capital. The Union Cabinet approved the bill on July 25.

Also read: Kejriwal: Delhi services control ordinance shows Modi govt’s lack of faith in SC

Tabled by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai on behalf of Shah, the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023 seeks to reverse the effect of the Supreme Court verdict in May that gave the Delhi government control over administrative services.

Opposition leaders stormed the well and tore papers questioning the introduction of the bill. Unfazed, Shah said: “Our Constitution allows the parliament to make laws for Delhi. Any opposition to this bill has no constitutional basis and is politically motivated. There is no reason for the opposition to cite parliamentary procedure.”

Oppn MPs resent move

The Aam Aadmi Party’s lone member, Sushil Kumar Rinku, who was waiting for a chance to speak, also stormed into the Well in protest as the Home Minister started speaking.

“I was not given a chance to speak… This is the murder of democracy… You are insulting Bhim Rao Ambedkar,” Rinku roared, as Opposition members raised slogans against the government. Rinku and Congress member TN Prathapan were seen throwing papers in front of the Chair amid the din. Speaker Om Birla pulled up the Opposition members for their behaviour.

The Opposition parties have been protesting on the issue since the start of the Monsoon session of Parliament. “The bill vindicates the outrageous infringement of the government on the territory of the states. It is designed for digging up a graveyard for cooperating federalism. It aims to curb the powers of the Delhi government. The Centre wants to weaken democracy through the move,” said Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Legislative competence

RSP leader NK Premchandran said: “I am questioning the legislative competence of the government in tabling the bill. It is against the principles of federalism envisaged in the Constitution. The elected government in Delhi not having control over the bureaucrats will mean not having a government in Delhi itself.”

Also read: Delhi services control: Centre moves SC seeking order review, cites ‘error’

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said Parliament was “fully competent” to pass the bill. Asserting that the bill violated Article 123, AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi said the Constitution cannot be amended with a simple bill.

TMC’s Saugata Roy also pointed out that the bill was outside the legislative competence of the government. “The Supreme Court passed a judgement and now this bill has been brought to override it. This is a total abrogation of the legislative power of the government of Delhi under the constitution,” he said.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor also opposed the bill on legislative competence. “It undermines the Delhi NCT and the bill infringes the principle of representative democracy.”

The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government has also challenged the ordinance in the Supreme Court.

(With agency inputs)

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