The face-off between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt Governor Najeeb Jung over who controls the bureaucracy escalated Wednesday with Kejriwal writing to the Prime Minister, and Jung sending the CM a letter and issuing a statement to assert his constitutional position.
Sources said Kejriwal, in his letter to the Prime Minister, said the Centre was trying to run Delhi through the Lt Governor, and that the Delhi government should be allowed to function independently. He is said to have mentioned the posting and transfers made by Jung while underlining that the elected government must have a say in distribution of work to senior officials.
Hours later, Jung issued a statement to the media saying the CM’s actions were an attempt to “obfuscate” the special position that Delhi enjoyed.
“Delhi as the National Capital is significantly different from other states. Delhi is a Union Territory with a Legislative Assembly and not a state and, therefore, has important points of distinction. It is, therefore, necessary to issue these clarifications,” the statement said.
Referring to the CM’s May 17 order, in which Kejriwal asked bureaucrats not to follow any order from the Lt Governor without checking with him first, the statement said: “In an order issued by the CM, principal secretary, secretaries in the government have been directed to put up all files, including even those in which the Lt Governor has exclusive jurisdiction in his executive capacity, through ministers and has directed that the orders of the Lt Governor to officers be first put up to the ministers for decision.
In a separate communication issued to the CM today, the Lt Governor has clarified the constitutional position wherein the Lt Governor is required under the Constitution and through the delegation of powers made to him by the President, to act in his executive capacity, in his discretion, in consultation with the Chief Minister where deemed necessary. The order of the CM to officers is in violation of this basic distinction.”
The Lt Governor’s statement also referred to another order issued by Deputy CM Manish Sisodia. “An order was issued on May 15 by the Deputy CM against the standing order dated 09.05.1994 which defines the levels in the government for approval of transfer and postings of senior officers. “It has been clarified by the Lt Governor to the CM that the order issued by the Deputy CM is fundamentally at variance with the Constitution since service matters are assigned to the Lt Governor under the powers delegated to him by the President.
The Lt Governor alone is competent to approve transfer and posting of principal secretary/secretary level officers, in consultation with the CM,” he said.
Sisodia, in turn, wrote another letter to the Lt Governor asking him to explain the rules and provisions of Constitution under which he is giving direct instruction to officials in the Delhi government.