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Supreme Court To Hear Delhi Government's Plea Challenging Ordinance On Control Of Services

This plea, filed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, alleges that the ordinance seeks to override the authority of the top court and the fundamental structure of the Constitution, sparking a crucial constitutional debate.

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In a significant legal battle, the Supreme Court is set to hear a plea filed by the Delhi government on Monday, challenging the constitutionality of an ordinance pertaining to the control of services. Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha will comprise the bench scheduled to preside over the matter.

The urgency of the case was emphasized by senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, who sought an urgent hearing on July 6. The plea filed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government alleges that the ordinance represents an "unconstitutional exercise of executive fiat" and seeks to "override" the authority of both the top court and the fundamental structure of the Constitution.

Apart from seeking the ordinance's annulment, the Delhi government has also requested an interim stay on its implementation. The ordinance in question, titled the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023, was promulgated by the central government on May 19. It aims to establish a National Capital Civil Service Authority to handle the transfer and disciplinary proceedings of Group-A officers from various cadres, including the DANICS cadre.

This move comes in the wake of a recent Supreme Court verdict that granted control of services in Delhi, excluding police, public order, and land, to the elected government. The AAP government views the ordinance as a contradiction of the Supreme Court's decision, labeling it a "deception."

Prior to the May 11 verdict, the Lieutenant Governor held executive control over the transfer and postings of all Delhi government officers. The Delhi government contends that the ordinance, enacted shortly after the apex court's ruling, is a direct attempt to undermine the authority of the top court and the foundational principles of the Constitution through executive means.

The constitutional dispute between the Centre and the Delhi government, triggered by a 2015 home ministry notification asserting the Centre's control over services, was finally resolved by a five-judge Constitution bench led by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud. The bench unanimously determined that the National Capital Territory administration holds a unique status under the Constitution, distinct from other union territories. The verdict emphasized that an elected government must have control over bureaucrats to ensure the principle of collective responsibility is upheld, putting an end to the eight-year-old dispute.

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