Cong’s P Chidambaram terms Delhi services bill ‘unconstitutional’

The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha last week.

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Monday lashed out at the Centre in the Rajya Sabha over the bill to replace an ordinance for handling the transfers and postings of officials in the Delhi government, terming it “unconstitutional”.

Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, for consideration in the Rajya Sabha on Monday. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha last week.

Participating in the debate on the bill, Chidambaram said that he can understand the full support given by the BJP to the bill but “what I cannot understand is the half-hearted supported given by two of my learned friends representing the BJD and the YSRCP”.

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They too know that the bill is unconstitutional, he said, adding, “I think the Law Ministry knows that this is unconstitutional.”

The Congress leader likened the bill to a moth which burns when it approaches fire yet it approaches the same fire again and again.

“This government tried it once. It failed. They tried it a second time, they failed and you are trying it a third time. I wish you what you will get is a spectacular failure when this bill is taken up,” he said.

Asserting that MPs are duty-bound to protect the rights of states, Chidambaram said Delhi has 3.17 crore people who elect a government to govern them and take decisions on their behalf.

He also questioned the merit behind some clauses in the Bill.

“Is there merit in a three-member authority where two officers will constitute a majority and overrule the chief minister? Is there merit when two members of the three constitute a quorum they can even call a meeting, hold a meeting without the chief minister.

“Is there merit that even if a decision is taken unanimously, the LG can overrule it? Is there merit that the member secretary who is a principal secretary of home will convene a meeting with or without the chief minister?” the Congress leader asked.

Taking a swipe, he said the government thinks this bill is a model for Delhi. It had invented a model for Jammu and Kashmir too and that is in court today, Chidambaram said.

“We are breaking the Constitutional machinery by passing this bill. We are breaking the Constitutional machinery envisaged.

“We broke it on August 5, 2019, in Kashmir, divided a state into two Union territories, sending a chill in the spines of every state that any state can be broken into Union territories,” he claimed.

Chidambaram, a former Union minister further said, “You have no Constitutional authority to pass this bill be that as it may. You have not even a moral authority to pass this bill.”

The last time the BJP-led government came to power in Delhi was 25 years ago, he added.

According to the bill, the National Capital Civil Services Authority will consist of the chief minister, chief secretary and the principal home secretary of Delhi.

The bill empowers the authority to make recommendations to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor regarding transfers and postings of officials and disciplinary matters.

It also empowers the L-G to exercise his sole discretion on several matters, including those recommended by the National Capital Civil Services Authority, and the summoning, prorogation and dissolution of the Delhi Legislative Assembly.

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