Centre Asserts Authority Over Delhi Government, Nullifies Supreme Court Order

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In a bold and dramatic move, the Central Government has issued an ordinance to override a recent Supreme Court ruling granting the Delhi government control over officers dealing with subjects beyond public order, police, and land. The Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023 establishes the National Capital Civil Service Authority, responsible for service conditions, transfers, and postings of officers. Under the ordinance, the authority will be chaired by the Chief Minister of Delhi, accompanied by the Chief Secretary and the Principal Home Secretary of Delhi as ex-officio members with equal decision-making power. Disagreements within the committee will be referred to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) for a final decision.

Notably, as members of the central services under the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Centre, the Chief Secretary and the Principal Home Secretary are expected to align with the central government’s sensitivities. The authority is entrusted with recommending transfers and postings of all Group A officers and officers of DANICS (Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service) serving in Delhi, excluding those serving in connection with specific subjects listed in the ordinance. The LG has the authority to seek relevant material on Group A officers and, in case of disagreement, may return a file with written reasons. Ultimately, the LG’s decision will prevail in cases of differences of opinion. The timing of the ordinance coincided with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s celebration of their victory in the Supreme Court, where the court had recognized their authority in controlling services.

However, this ordinance has dampened their enthusiasm and could potentially lead to protests. It demonstrates the Centre’s resolve to assert control over services in Delhi, highlighting the need to strike a balance between the democratically elected Delhi government and the city’s status as the national capital, hosting important national and international institutions. In summary, the Centre’s promulgation of the ordinance represents a decisive move to regain control over officers in Delhi and counter the recent Supreme Court ruling. The balance of power between the elected government and the Centre in the capital city remains a contentious issue, likely to fuel further debates and potential protests.

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