A day after senior bureaucrats in Delhi refused to comply with the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s order of transfer of powers, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said their action amounts to contempt of court and that the AAP leadership is seeking legal opinion on the matter.
“The chief secretary has written to me saying the services department will not follow the orders. If they are not going to abide by it and the transfer files will still be seen by the LG then it will amount to contempt of the constitution bench,” Sisodia told reporters on Thursday.
“We are consulting our lawyers about what can be done in the situation,” he said, adding the Supreme Court had clearly stated that the LG has the power to interfere only in three subjects, which does not include the services department. The apex court in its judgment had listed police, land and public order as outside the purview of the state government.
Buoyed by the Supreme Court’s verdict that the Lieutenant Governor (LG) has no “independent decision-making power” and is bound by the Cabinet’s advice, the AAP government pushed for a new system for transfer and postings of bureaucrats, making Arvind Kejriwal the authority. The bureaucrats, however, cited a Ministry of Home Affairs notification of May 2015 and claimed that ‘services matter’ still lies with the Centre. “The MHA notification is in the name of the President and unless it is specifically overturned or quashed, it stands,” a senior officer told The Indian Express.
The Delhi government and the officers have been locked in a war of words ever since Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash alleged he had been assaulted by two AAP MLAs in the presence of the Chief Minister. Alleging that the IAS officers were on “strike”, Kejriwal and his three Cabinet colleagues staged a sit-in protest in Anil Baijal’s office, demanding immediate intervention of the L-G. The protest was called off on the ninth day after the bureaucrats started attending meetings at the Secretariat.
(With inputs from PTI)