“Supreme Court to Hear Delhi Government’s Plea Against Central Ordinance on Officer Transfers”

The Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing on July 10 for the petition filed by the Delhi government, challenging the validity of a recent ordinance passed by the Central government. The ordinance aims to assert control over the transfers and postings of officers working within departments under the purview of the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government. The decision to hear the case was made by a bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, along with justices PS Narasimha and Manoj Misra, following an urgent request by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi representing the AAP government.

Singhvi informed the court that the petition challenges the entire ordinance, and not just a specific section. He also mentioned that a notice had been issued by the Supreme Court on Tuesday in response to a previous petition filed by the Delhi government, which challenged only a part of the ordinance (Section 45D) relating to the appointment of the chairperson of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC).

The Delhi government had objected to the appointment of Justice (retd) Umesh Kumar as the DERC chairperson, contending that such powers should rest with the state government. The court had previously scheduled a hearing for July 11 and noted the Delhi government’s statement that it would not administer the oath to the new DERC chairperson until the court’s decision.

The ordinance, which was passed by the Central government on May 19, introduced several amendments to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Act, 1991. These amendments aimed to strengthen the position of the lieutenant governor (L-G) as the final authority in matters regarding the transfer and postings of bureaucrats. However, the ordinance contradicts a previous ruling by the Supreme Court’s Constitution bench on May 11, which granted complete executive and legislative control over the bureaucracy to the Delhi government.

The petition challenging the constitutional validity of the ordinance was filed on June 30, and the Delhi government has also requested a stay on its implementation. The petition argues that the ordinance shows contempt for the elected government and violates the federal and democratic governance structure envisioned for Delhi under Article 239AA of the Constitution. The Supreme Court’s previous judgment had clarified that while certain areas like land, public order, and police were exempted from the purview of the Delhi Assembly, the Delhi government would have legislative and executive control over all other areas.

The petition further criticizes the creation of the National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA) under the ordinance, where the chief minister would be in the minority and could be outvoted by the two bureaucrats. The AAP government argues that the ordinance seeks to undo the May 11 judgment, which remains unamended, and therefore, it is unconstitutional and violates the Supreme Court’s decision.

The hearing on July 10 will address the Delhi government’s plea and determine the constitutional validity of the ordinance. The outcome of this case will have significant implications for the distribution of power and authority between the Central and Delhi governments, particularly regarding the control over civil servants and bureaucratic appointments in the national capital.

Sources By Agencies

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