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SC permits Delhi govt to amend plea to challenge law on services instead of ordinance

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NEW DELHI, Aug 25: The Supreme Court on Friday permitted the Delhi government to amend its
petition challenging the central government’s ordinance establishing pre-eminence of the lieutenant
governor over the elected AAP dispensation in controlling services in the national capital.
Amending the petition became necessary after the ordinance was replaced by a law.
The top court took note of the submissions of senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the
Delhi government, that earlier the challenge was directed against the ordinance which has now
become a law after it was cleared by the two Houses of Parliament and got presidential assent.
“The Interim application seeks amendment to the writ petition by which the NCT Ordinance was
challenged. Now, it has been replaced by an Act (the Government of National Capital Territory of
Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2023). We have heard the counsel.
“The solicitor general says they have no objection. The application for amendment is allowed. The
counter-affidavit (reply of the Centre) if any, may be filed within four weeks,” said the bench
comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.
Parliament recently cleared the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill
2023, also known as the Delhi Services Bill, that gave the lieutenant governor sweeping control over
service matters. After the president gave her assent, the bill became a law.
Earlier, the top court had referred to a five-judge constitution bench the Delhi government’s plea
challenging the Centre’s May 19 ordinance which took away the control over services from the city
dispensation and set off a fresh tussle between the two power centres.

The Centre had on May 19 promulgated the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi
(Amendment) Ordinance, 2023 to create an authority for transfer and posting of Group-A officers in
Delhi.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government termed it a “deception” with the Supreme Court verdict on
control of services.
The matter is still pending in the Supreme Court.
Before the ordinance was promulgated, a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y
Chandrachud, in a unanimous verdict, had sought to put an end to the eight-year-old dispute
between the Centre and the Delhi government triggered by a 2015 home ministry notification
asserting its control over services, holding the National Capital Territory administration is unlike
other union territories and has been “accorded a ‘sui generis’ (unique) status by the Constitution.
Against the backdrop of frequent run-ins between the AAP government and the lieutenant governor,
the apex court had asserted an elected government needs to have control over bureaucrats, failing
which the principle of collective responsibility will be adversely affected.
The new law has envisaged a National Capital Civil Service Authority for transfer, posting and
disciplinary proceedings against Group-A officers from the Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep,
Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Civil) Services (DANICS) cadre.
The chief minister is one of the three members of the Authority, while two others are bureaucrats.
The decisions by the Authority are to be taken by a majority and, in the event of a dispute, the
matter will be referred to the LG whose decision will be final.
Transfer and posting of all officers of the Delhi government were under the executive control of the
LG before the May 11 top court verdict. (PTI)

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