With the Delhi High Court Monday assuring Chief Secretary M M Kutty of “protection” from “adverse orders” — after his counsel said the officer was “caught between the devil and the deep sea” as he followed the orders of the L-G and not the government — Kutty appeared before the Delhi Assembly’s Question and Reference Committee the same day. The committee had earlier summoned him in connection with alleged irregularities at a cooperative bank, and issued two notices for not “following its directions” to incorporate adverse remarks of a bureaucrat in the Annual Confidential Report (ACR). Kutty had then moved court, which stayed the action.
According to an order issued by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal dated September 15, the appropriate authority to enter displeasure/remarks in the ACR of an IAS officer is the L-G. “As per the the L-G’s order dated September 15, I don’t have the power to insert any remark in the ACR… I am played as a football. I am damned I if I do, damned if I don’t. We are caught between devil and the deep sea. Why are you harassing us? Whom should we answer to… the assembly or the L-G?” Kutty’s counsel, advocate Vivek Chib, told the bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva on Monday.
The first bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar was not sitting today. Sources said Kutty also filed the ACR on Monday and incorporated the remarks of Shurbir Singh, the former secretary-cum-registrar of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies.
The committee had instructed Kutty to “put on record its displeasure” against Singh, for not answering its questions pertaining to its ongoing probe into the illegal appointments and promotions in the Delhi Nagrik Sahkari Bank. The Indian Express had reported the discrepancies on October 4.
After the initial notices were stayed by the HC, the committee once again issued a fresh notice on September 17. Kutty’s counsel filed a fresh plea, stating that the assembly committee had issued Kutty a notice despite the court order.
During the hearing on Monday, Delhi government counsel Rahul Mehra said the Assembly was seeking file movement register. Opposing this, Chib said the committee had directed Kutty to put adverse remarks of Shurbir Singh in the ACR . Seeking protection from the court, the counsel said: “If the committee wants, we can attend the hearing, but no adverse order should be passed or contempt proceedings initiated against us.”
Meanwhile, the bench noted that as the Acting Chief Justice was seized of the matter, it could not pass any order in the case. While assuring Kutty of protection, the bench said he could appear before the assembly and explain his stand. The matter has been listed for Tuesday.
— with inputs from Aniruddha Ghosal