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Three top bureaucrats including Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, who have not been appearing before two committees of the Delhi Legislative Assembly, were Friday asked by the Delhi High Court to either appear before the panels or face contempt of court proceedings. The bureaucrats had been avoiding the committees since February 20 — a day after Prakash was allegedly assaulted by two AAP MLAs at the residence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The bureaucrats have also allegedly refused to respond to summons by the committees. Justice Vibhu Bakhru warned the chief secretary and two other IAS officers that the court could issue contempt action against them if they did not comply, and said they are officers and have to appear before all committees. Earlier, the counsel for the Delhi Assembly, the Speaker and the two panels informed the court that the three officers were neither appearing nor replying to information sought from them.
The chief secretary was earlier served a notice by the Privileges Committee for skipping a meeting on February 20. The Privileges Committee had also issued a notice after receiving a complaint against the chief secretary by the Question and Reference (Q&R) Committee.
The counsel told the court that the officers were taking advantage of an earlier order that restrained authorities from taking action against the three bureaucrats. On March 9, the High Court had asked the panels not to take coercive steps against the officers.
Amending the order, the High Court said, “It is clarified that the petitioners (bureaucrats) shall participate in proceedings of the panels without prejudice to their rights and contentions.”
“It is the direction of this court that you will have to appear. If you fail to appear, forget about them, this court will issue contempt action against you,” it added.
The court, however, maintained that the committees would not take any coercive action against the bureaucrats till the pendency of petitions. The court further directed that the committees videograph the proceedings.
While Prakash has to appear before the Privileges Committee only, the Q&R Committee had served notice to the two IAS officers — J B Singh, Registrar of Cooperative Societies; and Shurbir Singh, chief executive officer DUSIB. The Q&R Committee had called the three officers in connection with issues related to the Department of Cooperative Society as well.
Sources in the Assembly committee said they are likely to issue a notice to the officers on Monday to attend the meetings.