The Central government’s recent passage of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, has brought attention to the evolving dynamics between the Centre and Delhi’s governance. This bill, often referred to as the Delhi Services Bill, aims to replace an earlier ordinance, offering the Lieutenant Governor (LG) more discretionary powers over various aspects, including officer transfers, postings, and disciplinary matters.
Key Points of the Delhi Services Bill:
1. National Capital Civil Services Authority (NCCSA): The establishment of the NCCSA stands as a critical element of the bill. This authority comprises the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary of Delhi, and Principal Home Secretary of Delhi. The NCCSA is tasked with making recommendations for transfers, postings, and disciplinary actions of officers to the LG.
2. Empowerment of the LG: The bill grants significant discretion to the LG, transforming the power balance between the Centre and Delhi’s government. The LG now holds the ‘sole discretion’ over key matters, including those recommended by the NCCSA. This extended authority enables the LG to summon, prorogate, and dissolve the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
3. Decision-Making Process: The NCCSA’s recommendations will be based on a majority vote, with the LG possessing the power to approve, request reconsideration, or have the final decision in case of disagreements. This grants the LG substantial influence over bureaucratic appointments and disciplinary matters.
4. Shifting Dynamics: The bill not only shifts the power dynamics but also empowers the LG to make crucial decisions on legislative and administrative matters. Matters related to peace and security in Delhi, the city’s relationship with the Centre, state governments, and judicial bodies fall under the LG’s purview.
5. Roles of Department Secretaries: The bill endows department secretaries with the authority to directly notify the LG, Chief Minister, and Chief Secretary about contentious issues, without needing prior consultation with the concerned minister. This direct line of communication aims to streamline administrative responses.
6. President’s and LG’s Authority: The bill assigns the President of India the power to appoint authorities, commissions, and office bearers for Union List matters. Similarly, the LG gains similar authority over Delhi’s legislature concerning State List matters.
7. Deviations from the Parent Ordinance: The bill introduces deviations from its parent ordinance. While the ordinance stipulated that administrative matters needing the President’s or Delhi CM’s consideration should be submitted to the LG, the bill narrows this requirement to matters the CM deems essential.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, introduces a new chapter in the Centre-Delhi relationship. By conferring greater discretion to the LG over crucial governance aspects, the bill transforms decision-making processes and potentially redefines the power dynamics between the Centre and the Delhi government. This legislation’s implications will undoubtedly shape the landscape of governance in the national capital.