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Centre Files Review Petition Against SC Order on Delhi Civil Services Row

Centre moves Supreme Court to seek review of May 11 judgment on Service Row

Centre has filed a petition for review in the Supreme Court seeking a review of its constitutional judge’s judgment on the service dispute between the BJP-led central government and the AAP-led Delhi government.

In its May 11 judgment, the Supreme Court’s Constitution bench ruled that the Delhi government has “legislative and executive powers over services” in the national capital.

Yesterday, the Centre tabled an ordinance to establish a National Capital Civil Service Authority, which has the authority to recommend the transfer and dispatch of all Group A and DANICS officers serving in Delhi.

A permanent authority, the National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA), which will be headed by the elected Chief Minister of Delhi in addition to the Chief Secretary and Principal Secretary of the Home Department, will make recommendations to LG “for transfers, vigilance and other incidental measures”.

However, in the event of a conflict between NCCSA and LG, LG’s decision “shall be final.”

The ordinance comes a week after the Supreme Court handed over control of Delhi’s services to the elected government, excluding services related to police, public order and land, in what AAP considered a “historic victory for the people of Delhi”.

The transfer and appointment of officials have been a bone of contention between the Centre and the Delhi Government led by Arvind Kejriwal since 2015.

The Supreme Court delivered a divided decision in 2019, a week after five constitutional justices led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud held that local governments can only exercise executive power on behalf of the Centre in three areas of public order, as defined in Section 239AA (3)(a), the Police and Land of Derry.

This means that LG does not have overall administrative power over the national capital.

The AAP government has sacked several officials from various departments following the Supreme Court order. However, today’s regulations once again give the central government the power to transfer and appoint key officials.

Earlier on Friday, Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena wrote to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal raising the issue of Services Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj’s alleged misbehaviour with Services Secretary Ashish More. In response, Kejriwal said he was “shocked” by the language and questions posed in the letter to him by LG V K Saxena, which he said smacked of “bickering”.

The Supreme Court had said in its judgment that the Centre has a unique federal relationship with the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCTD) government. They need to cooperate to enhance federalism and democratic spirit.

When it comes to the triple chain of command to ensure democratic accountability, it says civil servants are accountable to ministers, who in turn are accountable to Parliament or state legislatures. The bench said public servants must be “politically neutral” and carry out the elected government’s day-to-day decisions under the ministers’ administrative control.

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