Secretary to vet decisions of Delhi cabinet: Ordinance | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHII: The ordinance on Delhi, promulgated by the Centre Friday, besides curbing the powers of the elected government over officers’ transfer and posting, has also introduced an oversight in the form a secretary-level officer who will be responsible for vetting decisions taken by the council of ministers to ensure that they are consistent with the Constitution and refer any difference of opinion to the lieutenant governor (LG) for the final decision.
“In case the secretary to the council of ministers is of the opinion that the proposal considered and decided by the council of ministers is not in accordance with the provisions of the law for the time being in force or any rules of procedure made under section 44 it shall be the duty of the secretary to the council of ministers to bring it to the notice of Lieutenant Governor for taking a decision thereon,” lays down Section 45K(3)of the ordinance promulgated last week.
“It is a little peculiar as it empowers the secretary to the council of ministers to scrutinise decisions of the council of ministers before sending it to the LG. He is secretary to the council of ministers and not to the LG,” said former Union law secretary P K Malhotra.
On the other roles and duties of secretaries of departments concerned as mentioned in the ordinance, Malhotra said they are in keeping with the familiar procedure as even in case of the Union Cabinet, it is the secretary of the concerned department who is responsible for any proposal going to the Cabinet for consideration.
The ordinance, known as the Govt of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023, provides for secretary of each department of the NCT government being responsible for preparing and authenticating every memorandum, including the Cabinet notes, for consideration of the council of ministers and for obtaining approval of the minister in-charge and the chief minister. This clause has made each secretary-level officer to give his seal of approval on each proposal floated or ideated by the political authority.
“In case of proposals involving more than one department, the views of all concerned secretaries and the ministers of all departments consulted on the proposal shall be clearly and separately reflected in writing and signed by the minister and the secretary in the memorandum so as to ensure that in case of disagreement, the council of ministers shall take a decision,” it said.
The legislation, while making secretary-level officers crucial to decision-making, also makes them liable for action in case they ignore any lapses or fail to report it to the L-G or the central government.
The bureaucrats, as per the ordinance, are expected to be particularly watchful while dealing with matters which can lead to a conflict with the Centre. “Any matter which is likely to bring the Govt of NCT of Delhi into controversy with the Central government.., the secretary to the department concerned shall, as soon as possible, bring it to the notice of the L-G.”
It has made the chief secretary and the secretary to the department concerned “responsible for compliance with the provisions of this Act and the rules framed under section 44, and when either of them considers that there has been any material departure from the same, instead of giving effect to such departure, he or they shall personally bring it to the notice of the minister-in-charge, chief minister and the Lieutenant Governor immediately in writing”.

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