Kejriwal postpones the NCCSA meeting; the official notes the 5th delay.

Kejriwal postpones the NCCSA meeting; the official notes the 5th delay.

The ongoing row between the Delhi government and the Centre over the control of bureaucrats in the state has led to the postponement of the National Capital Civil Services Authority (NCCSA) meeting for the fifth time. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is the chairperson of the three-member body responsible for overseeing transfers and postings of bureaucrats in Delhi, has expressed concerns about the body’s functioning.

The conflict arises from an ordinance promulgated by the Union government on May 19, which aimed to negate a May 11 Supreme Court order granting authority over officers to Delhi’s elected government. This article explores the background of the issue, the role of NCCSA, and the implications of the postponement on the functioning of the Delhi administration.

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The relationship between the Centre and the Delhi government has been fraught with disputes over the distribution of power and control. The May 11 Supreme Court order had empowered the elected government in Delhi to have control over the transfers and postings of bureaucrats, which the Centre sought to overturn through an ordinance. The Union government’s ordinance, issued on May 19, constituted the NCCSA to take charge of these bureaucratic matters, consisting of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Secretary, and the Principal Secretary (Home).

The NCCSA was established as a three-member body to oversee and decide on the transfers and postings of bureaucrats in Delhi. It was constituted to counter the Supreme Court’s ruling, which had granted this authority to the Delhi government. However, a key concern raised by Chief Minister Kejriwal was that decisions within NCCSA are made by a simple majority, meaning his decisions as the elected representative can be overruled by officials who are answerable to the Centre. This has led to disputes and disagreements, with Kejriwal labelling the body as a “farce” due to its potential to undermine his authority as Chief Minister.

Principal Secretary (Home) Ashwini Kumar, who also serves as the NCCSA’s member secretary, raised concerns in a letter regarding the repeated postponement of the authority’s meeting. He emphasized that the non-functioning of the NCCSA could lead to maladministration and bring the Capital’s administration to a standstill. In an attempt to address the situation, Kumar proposed to hold the meeting without the Chief Minister’s participation, as permitted under the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance. The ordinance empowers the member secretary to convene a meeting with a quorum of two members, with the approval of the chairperson.

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The proposed National Capital Civil Services Authority (NCCSA) meeting was convened with the primary objective of addressing critical issues that had significant implications for the smooth functioning and integrity of the Delhi administration.

Among the matters to be discussed were actions against government officers involved in favouring the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) through payments for advertisements. Additionally, the meeting aimed to address concerns regarding the demolition of a listed heritage monument by Delhi Jal Board (DJB) engineers to construct a bungalow for an IAS officer, as well as the shifting of officers from sensitive departments.

However, the implementation of the proposed NCCSA ordinance resulted in unexpected consequences, leading to an open rebellion among bureaucrats against the elected government. Some bureaucrats began openly defying orders issued by elected ministers, creating administrative challenges and fostering an environment of discord within the administration.

The situation escalated when a letter from the principal secretary raised concerns and proposed holding the NCCSA meeting without the participation of the Chief Minister, an action viewed as discourteous and indicative of resistance against the authority of the elected government.

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In response to the mounting tension and administrative challenges, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office communicated the decision to postpone the NCCSA meeting. The justification for this postponement was attributed to the Union cabinet’s replacement of the NCCSA ordinance with a bill that was expected to be tabled in Parliament. Kejriwal deemed it appropriate to wait for the new legislation to be passed before proceeding with the NCCSA’s activities. This move was intended to ensure that the authority’s functioning aligned with any potential changes brought about by the new law.

The underlying cause of the conflict between the Delhi government and the Centre over control of bureaucrats led to the establishment of the NCCSA. However, the functioning of the body encountered challenges, with the Chief Minister expressing concerns about its structure and decision-making process. The postponement of the NCCSA meeting for the fifth time further heightened tensions, and the proposal to hold the meeting without the Chief Minister’s participation only added to the existing discord.

As the issue remains unresolved, its impact on the administration of Delhi and the relationship between the Centre and the elected government continues to be a matter of concern. The ongoing power struggle between the elected government and bureaucrats has created an atmosphere of uncertainty and hindered the effective governance of Delhi.

The need for a clear and effective mechanism for handling civil service matters in the National Capital Territory cannot be understated. The establishment of the NCCSA was an attempt to address this concern, but its implementation has been fraught with difficulties. To ensure the smooth functioning of the administration and to uphold the principles of democratic governance, it is essential to find a resolution that balances the interests of both the elected government and bureaucrats.

A collaborative approach that involves all stakeholders, including the Centre, the elected government, and civil servants, may be necessary to overcome the current challenges. Open dialogue, transparent decision-making processes, and a commitment to upholding the rule of law will be crucial in finding a sustainable solution. Additionally, strengthening the authority’s structure and ensuring that it operates within the framework of established legal principles can enhance its effectiveness and credibility.

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The situation in Delhi serves as a reminder of the complexities involved in governance and the delicate balance required between political leadership and administrative machinery. As the NCCSA issue unfolds, it is essential for all parties involved to prioritise the welfare of the people and work towards a resolution that promotes good governance and stability in the National Capital Territory.

Only through cooperation and a shared commitment to the public interest can the challenges be overcome, allowing the Delhi administration to function efficiently and effectively and paving the way for a harmonious relationship between the Centre and the elected government.

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