The Union government on Tuesday tabled the contentious Delhi Services Bill in the Lok Sabha.
The bill is formally called the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023. It replaces an ordinance promulgated in May that effectively overruled a Supreme Court order giving control of services in Delhi to the elected government in all matters except policing, land, and public order.
The bill has been one of the rallying points for the 26 parties of the Opposition bloc INDIA. Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal criss-crossed the country to meet the Opposition leaders to muster support against the bill.
The Delhi Services Bill was tabled by Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai. The PTI notes that the proposed legislation empowers the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi to have a final say in recommendations regarding the transfer and posting of Delhi government officials. The bill, along with the Manipur crises, has been a focus of the Opposition since the beginning of the Monsoon session.
The AAP on Tuesday termed the Delhi Services Bill the most "undemocratic" piece of paper ever tabled in Parliament. The party also said the bill will replace democracy with "babucracy".
AAP Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha said the bill is even worse than the previous ordinance and more against "our democracy, the Constitution, and the people of Delhi", reported PTI, adding that Chadha further said the bill essentially snatches all powers from the elected government of Delhi and hands those over to the LG of Delhi and "babus".
"This is an assault on India's federal structure, democracy and the Constitution. All members of the INDIA bloc will oppose this bill," said Chadha.
The Congress said the Delhi Services Bill "vindicates the outrageous infringement of the government on the territory of the states".
"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," said Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Adhir Chowdhury.
After discussions on some bills, the Lok Sabha was adjourned till Wednesday morning.
The passage of the Delhi Services Bill in Lok Sabha would not be an issue as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has clear majority there. The real face-off will be in Rajya Sabha where neither bloc has enough numbers and has to rely on support from non-aligned parties, nominated MPs, and Independents. As things stand, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has 109 votes and INDIA has 108 MPs. The current majority-mark in Rajya Sabha is 120.