Powers of top bureaucrats were usurped, the scheme of governance encapsulated in the Constitution was violated, and power was abused to benefit the kin of government functionaries. These are among the findings of the three-member Shunglu Committee, set up to probe alleged irregularities in the functioning of the Delhi government.
It comprised former comptroller and auditor general V K Shunglu, former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami and former chief vigilance commissioner Pradeep Kumar.
The committee scrutinised 404 files and categorised them on the basis of issues.
“After coming to power, it appears the AAP adopted a different approach vis-a-vis powers under Constitution of India. Chief Minister told Lt Governor that reserved subject files will be submitted to him only after going through the CM. L-G clarified his (CM’s) misunderstanding of Transaction of Business Rules,” the report, accessed by The Indian Express, stated.
According to the report, the next significant decision was taken by the CM on April 29, 2015. “The order, marked to secretaries, stated that files should be marked to the appropriate level and L-G should not be bothered. Despite clarification by the L-G, ministers continued to draw support from CM’s communication in transacting business,” it said.
The case of principal secretary (services) Anindo Majumdar, whose office was locked on the CM’s orders, also found mention in the report.
A reference was also made to the CM’s orders to bureaucrats, saying the L-G is not authorised to issue any directions to officials after bypassing the council of ministers. The report stated that the order prohibits top bureaucrats from functioning as per rules.
On May 18, 2015, administrative secretaries were asked to be “guided by the authority of ministers in charge”, thereby exceeding their powers, the report stated.
It also referred to how law officials were removed arbitrarily by the government and how the law department remained headless for two months.
The report stated, “We invited key officials for discussions, including chief secretary and secretary, GAD, law, services, UD, Power. Our impression is that several officials resisted unwarranted transgressions… Many resorted to defensive euphemisms (use of term competent authority where they meant L-G) to satisfy their conscience… Their functions were usurped in particular in preparation of cabinet papers, a prime responsibility of the department and its secretary.”
The report stated that the administrative department referred 440 files where the decisions were not in conformity with the scheme of governance.
The report referred to the appointment of Soumya Jain, advisor to the mission director of the Delhi state health mission, and daughter of the Health Minister.
“She is an architect and rules do not permit such appointments. There is no approval on file of her appointment. Nevertheless, an appointment order was issued, an expenditure of Rs 1.5 lakh was incurred between April 18, 2016, and August 14, 2016, when she resigned. The amount was refunded by cheque and no document to explain the refund,” stated the report.
Another alleged abuse of power was the allotment of 206, Rouse Avenue to the Aam Aadmi Party, stated the report.