New Delhi: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal today attacked the Narendra Modi government at the Centre for repeatedly using the office of the lieutenant governor of Delhi to put hurdles in the functioning of his elected government. Copying a dialogue from My Name is Khan, Kejriwal theatrically declared, “I am the elected chief minister of Delhi and I am not a terrorist”.
Kejriwal, who had once proudly claimed that he is an “anarchist”, made this assertion while presenting his government’s views on the Guest Teachers’ Regularisation Bill, which was subsequently passed by the house, with the intent to regularise the services of nearly 15,000 teachers who have been teaching in Delhi government schools on daily wages so far.
During the course of the discussion, Kejriwal attacked the Centre for blocking various legislative proposals of his government. His deputy, Manish Sisodia also quoted him as saying that “the country does not run through bureaucracy, it is run by democracy”.
— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) October 4, 2017
The one-day special session of the Delhi assembly had been called to pass the Bill for regularising the services of the guest teachers. However, as in the past, the passage of this Bill too may faces hurdles as lieutenant governor Anil Baijal has already declared that it is not in accordance with the constitutional scheme of governance.
Cabinet approved regularisation
The current standoff began after the Delhi cabinet approved the regularisation of 15,000 guest teachers. Sisodia had then announced that “approximately 15,000 guest teachers are teaching in the schools of the Directorate of Education (DoE) and have played a crucial role in some of the flagship programmes including summer camps, chunauti, and reading campaign.”
Sisodia had batted for giving the guest teachers a better deal, saying they had played a crucial role in reforming the education system. “If the guest teachers who are currently teaching in our schools were to be replaced with fresh candidates, DoE would suffer quite a setback to our education reform process and we would need to re-start the process from scratch,” he had said.
Further, Sisodia had stated that the guest teachers had over the years “acquired skills and competencies essential to working in government schools and if we lose their services the benefit of their experience will also be lost.”
Today as well, he tweeted that the guest teachers have played as important a role as regular teachers in the success of the education system in Delhi.
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) October 4, 2017
Regular appointments stalled
A day after the cabinet had taken the decision, the Delhi high court had stayed the process of appointing guest teachers and promoting those appointed since 2010 in Delhi government schools till October 11.
The court had directed that the status quo should be maintained after the petitioner, NGO Social Jurist which was represented by advocate Ashok Agarwal, claimed that the government had not complied with the high court’s 2001 order.
The court observed that “the order passed by a division bench of this court in 2001 is yet to implemented, as per the affidavit (of Delhi government)….”.
The high court had in 2001 asked the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board (DSSSB) to ensure that there was no vacancy of teachers in schools at the start of every academic session.
However, Agarwal lamented that the directions were never complied with and this had resulted in a large number of vacancies since 2011. “No attempt has been made by the DSSSB for last several years to fill up the posts and provide regular teachers,” he said, questioning the board’s decision to withdraw a notice on appointment of 8,914 school teachers.
The advocate, who has been fighting for improving the school education system in Delhi, told the court that after its order of April 11, the DSSSB had on August 7 invited applications for 8,914 teaching posts in the Directorate of Education of the Delhi government and 5,906 teaching posts in schools run by the three municipal corporations. But, he charged that the advertisement was “abruptly withdrawn” on August 24.
“The respondents have been deliberately and for some political motives delaying recruitment of regular teachers to the detriment of the interest of as many as 23 lakh students studying in schools run by the Government of Delhi and three municipal corporations,” the plea says.
Apart from the court’s order on maintaining the status quo, the lieutenant governor too had raised objections to the proposed legislation, saying it had violated the constitutional scheme of governance in Delhi.
In a letter to Kejriwal, Baijal urged him to reconsider the decision to table the Bill in the assembly. He had claimed that there was a detailed procedure under the Transaction of Business Rules for processing legislative proposals and introducing Bills, including mandatory consultation with the Law Department, and that “the matter relating to ‘services’ falls beyond the legislative competence of the Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi.”
However, the Kejriwal government contended that the Bill pertained to education and not to a service matter.
Over a dozen Bills rejected, returned
The objection raised by Baijal has put a question mark on the future of the legislation. In fact, nearly a dozen Bills proposed by the Kejriwal government in the past have not been implemented as either they were rejected or returned by the Centre on various grounds.
As many as 14 Bills were returned through the Ministry of Home Affairs in June last year, including the Aam Aadmi Party’s flagship Delhi Janlokpal Bill. The other Bills were the The Delhi Netaji Subhas University of Technology Bill, 2015; the Delhi School (Verification of Accounts and Refund of Excess Fee) Bill 2015; The Delhi School Education (Amendment Bill) 2015; The Right of Citizen to Time-bound Delivery of Services Amendment Bill, 2015; Minimum Wages (Delhi) Amendment bill; The Code of Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill; The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education, Delhi Amendment Bill; Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board Amendment Act 2015; and the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Bill.
The remaining Bills which were turned away were those through which the salaries of the ministers, the speaker, deputy speaker, leader of opposition and the chief whip were sought to be raised by the Delhi assembly.
In all these cases, the Centre had cited “procedural lapses” and ministry officials had stated that prior approval from the Centre was not taken as required by law before they were tabled in the Delhi assembly. In the case of the guest teachers Bill, Baijal’s appeal has now raised doubts it if too would meet the fate of numerous Bills passed earlier by the Kejriwal government which failed to get the Centre’s nod, which remains necessary for their implementation.