Rajya Sabha passes Delhi Services bill; "black day for democracy," says Kejriwal
The Bill was passed after voting was done through slips after a technical glitch in automated voting machine
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was passed by the Parliament on Monday, despite strong fight by the opposition parties in the upper house.
The Bill on control of transfers, postings of senior officers in Delhi government was passed by Rajya Sabha with 131 votes in favour and 102 against despite a strong fight by the Opposition during the long discussion in the upper house.
The Bill was passed after voting was done through slips after a technical glitch in automated voting machine.
The bill, which has been a point of contention between the Aam Aadmi Party, which governs the national capital, and the central government, was already passed by the Lok Sabha on August 3. It will replace the existing Central government's ordinance on the transfer and posting of officers, brought in just days after the Supreme Court gave executive powers to the Delhi government in service matters in May this year.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, replying to the discussion in the Rajya Sabha, said that the Delhi Services Bill in no way violates the Supreme Court judgement and it is aimed at corruption-free administration in Delhi. He also said that the Centre doesn’t need to snatch power, as 130 crore people have given them the power and also added that the Congress is supporting the AAP only to appease them.
The Home Minister further said that post-independence, Delhi was given an Assembly. “One must read 239AA carefully. The problem is that you have fought the elections of a UT, but want to enjoy the powers of the state,” Shah said. Targeting the AAP, he said: "Delhi was governed by BJP, Congress before 2015, but there was never confrontation with the Centre."
He also said that such a bill can only be introduced for a Union Territory. "This is the problem of mentality that one is fighting elections of a UT but seeking powers of a state," Shah added. He also pointed out that the bill was first brought by the Congress when it was in power.
"I want to assure that none of the provisions of the bill are changed from what it was in the Congress regime," the Minister said.
Shah also said that two members (BJD's Sasmit Patra and BJP's Dr Sudhanshu Trivedi) are saying that they have not signed the motion (to be part of select committee) moved by AAP's Raghav Chadha. "Now it is a matter of investigation how the motion was signed," Shah said.
Following the remarks by Shah, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh said that four MPs have written to him that no consent has been given by them and it will be enquired into.
AIADMK member Dr. M. Thambidurai also claimed that he has not signed on the paper and this is a matter of privilege.
Meanwhile, the Opposition parties strongly opposed the Bill in Rajya Sabha dubbing it as unconstituonal.
Soon after the Delhi Services Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Monday night, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, terming the passage of the Bill as a black day for Indian democracy.
Claiming that the Bill tantamounts to enslaving the people of Delhi, Kejriwal said it was like the Government of India Act of 1935, which was then imposed by the Britishers on Indians.
"After 75 years of Independence, the Prime Minister has curtailed the freedom of the people of Delhi -- almost as if their votes don’t matter -- because their elected government has been rendered almost powerless," Kejriwal said.
The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha by a voice vote on Thursday. The proposed law will empower the Central government to control the functioning of Delhi government by having the final say in the postings and transfers of bureaucrats and employees.
Kejriwal said that the Prime Minister has willingly ignored the orders of Supreme Court which held that India is a democratic nation and voters elect a government so that it can exercise discretionary powers on their behalf.
Kejriwal said that the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and PM Modi wish to run the government by themselves, rather than abiding by the orders of apex court.
“The future of our beloved country seems like it is in wrong hands. It's tough for the BJP to beat AAP in Delhi. For the last 25 years, BJP has not been in power in Delhi, so that's why they want to hijack the people's mandate by any means.
"BJP cannot withstand competition with AAP in terms of governance and they have been a big failure in states like Gujarat, Haryana and Manipur, which is burning, that's why they want to stop Arvind Kejriwal by hook or crook," the Chief Minister said.
He said that BJP has problems with the social welfare schemes such as construction of new schools, free medical supplies, Mohalla Clinics, new hospitals, 24x7 electricity and water supply, roads etc.
He said, “The people of Delhi want their son (Kejriwal) to lead the state, and this time the BJP is scared that it won't get a single seat in the Lok Sabha elections.
"This is a black day in the history of Indian democracy... This Bill makes the people of Delhi helpless, obligated and dependent. Before our Independence, Britishers passed the Government of India Act, 1935 in which they wrote that elections will take place in India but the elected government will not have any powers to function.
"After 75 years of Independence, PM Modi has snatched the freedom of the people of Delhi... With the passing of the Bill in the Parliament today, there's no value left in the votes of Delhi’s people."
Kejriwal also said that the Central government has become so arrogant that it didn't feel the need to abide by the Supreme Court's orders.
"And you know what's written in this law? The law that has been passed today states that all employees of Delhi government, from Category A to Category D, whatever work they do - the Central government will formulate their transfer policy, it will decide who will be an officer, who will be a peon, what work they will do... The Prime Minister of the country will sit and decide what work a peon of the Delhi government will do? Is this the job of the Prime Minister," Kejriwal asked.