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Delhi services bill unconstitutional, against spirit of federalism: Oppn

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Senjo M R
August 08, 2023 01:16 IST
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Members of the opposition alliance INDIA on Monday slammed the Centre in the Rajya Sabha over the bill to control the bureaucracy in Delhi, saying the proposed legislation was "unconstitutional" and against the spirit of federalism.

IMAGE: Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge speaking on Delhi Services Bill, 2023, during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi. Photograph: ANI Photo/Sansad TV

The opposition bloc also got support from Telanagana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao's Bharat Rashtra Samithi, which saw the bill as a move to usurp powers of an elected government in Delhi, and asked the House to vote against it.


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.

Initiating the debate, Congress leader and noted lawyer Abhishek Singhvi termed the Delhi services bill "unconstitutional" and "anti-democratic" and appealed to all opposition parties to oppose it with the warning that "someday this anti-federal knock will come" at their door too.

He accused the government of bringing the bill out of "vendetta" and said it was against two verdicts of the Supreme Court Constitution bench.

Singhvi also made an apparent reference to the Nazi rule and warned those who are supporting or have announced support to the bill by quoting Martin Niemöller, "First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I am not a Jew. Then they came for me and for you, and there was not one left to speak for us (sic)."

His party colleague P Chidambaram lashed out at the Centre terming the bill "unconstitutional".

The Congress leader further said 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".

They too know that the bill is unconstitutional, Chidambaram said, adding, "I think the Law Ministry knows that this is unconstitutional."

He 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.

Leader of the AAP, which has a government in Delhi, Raghav Chadha said the Delhi services bill is a "political fraud" and "constitutional sin" aimed at taking away the powers of an elected government in the national capital.

Chadha termed the bill as "the most anti-constitutional, illegal, undemocratic legislation ever presented" in the House. "I am stating today not representing two crore people of Delhi but 135 crore people of this country," he said.

Invoking the Mahabharata, he said his party seeks justice in the House.

Participating in the debate, Vaiko of MDMK opposed the bill terming it as undemocratic and said it strikes at the root of democracy, federal spirit, secularism and social justice.

"The bill which has been brought in the garb of administrative efficacy is many ways appears to erode democratic fabric, which is interesting to the Indian polity," he said adding it will render the chief minister's authority and is a deviation from the state list.

Javed Ali khan of the Samajwadi Party said if the bill is passed then the status of the chief minister would be even lower than that the chairman of a municipal corporation and town area.

However, Ghanshayam Tiwari of BJP said this bill is not contrary to the Constitution, democracy and against the people of Delhi as claimed by the opposition parties.

Bharat Rashtra Samithi member K Keshava Rao said the ordinance has come with malafide intention. He said if someone is corrupt then the home minister has the right to act against the person.

"Without constitutional morality, 'dharma' can never be established," Rao said.

RJD member Manoj Jha said that it's a regressive bill and that a quorum will be made under the chairmanship of the chief minister which is "an instrument to decimate idea of an elected government".

He said people have been citing former PM Jawaharlal Nehru that he did not want Delhi to be given full statehood but 67 years have passed.

"At the time of Nehru how much focus was on public areas, now we are focussing on selling it. This change has come," Jha said. He said that if bureaucrats are not answerable to the Minister, "will it not lead to lawlessness".

Communist Party of India-Marxist member Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya said that the government or the bureaucrats are bound by constitutional principles and morality to be answerable to the elected representative.

"That is a democratic republic. No question of this party or that party. That was the outcome of the independence struggle. I know some people do not have the legacy of the independence struggle, they might have different outlook but this representative government is the outcome of the independence struggle which people fought by sacrificing life, not surrendering their own right at the behest of British mercy," Bhattacharyya said.

He said nobody questions the power of Parliament but exercise of power is wisdom.

"Will the Parliament invite autocracy? This bill invites autocracy. This bill would take us to the complete stage of animality," Bhattacharyya said.

Janata Dal-United member Aneel Prasad Hegde said that with the bill the government is bartering the sovereignty of the Delhi government.

He said that it is ironic to get a constitutional amendment bill for Delhi where everything is functioning well instead of changing the chief minister in Manipur where there has been ethnic violence going on for the last three months.

Kerala Congress-Mani member Jose K Mani said that the bill is an attempt to snatch power from the hands of people. "The bill undermines the very essence of Parliamentary democracy. It is a systematic death for democracy," he said.

"The bill also undermines the federal structure of the country. The ordinance is an insult to the spirit of the nation," Mani said.

Sandosh Kumar P of Communist Party of India said the home minister is insulting the people of Delhi through this bill.

"This bill makes the chief minister's position the fourth after lieutenant governor, secretary, and another officer," he said.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Senjo M R© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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