Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal headed for another showdown Friday, this time over the appointment of senior bureaucrat Shakuntala Gamlin as acting chief secretary of Delhi.
In a statement, the government said the Lt Governor had bypassed them in appointing her as the interim chief secretary. The government claimed Gamlin — she is the Principal Secretary (Power) — was “perceived to be extremely close to electricity companies in Delhi and was lobbying for their interests”, and that the “government was hesitant” to give her additional charge.
The Lt Governor’s office responded with a statement of its own: “There was nothing on file submitted to the Lt Governor that indicated the government had anything against Ms Gamlin and the Lt Governor regrets the name of a senior officer being brought in public domain in such a manner, that too a lady officer and one belonging to the North East… The release is to clarify that the action of the Lt Governor is within the Constitution of India.”
Sparring between Kejriwal’s government and Jung began after Chief Secretary K K Sharma went on personal leave to the United States on May 13. The government functioned without a bureaucratic head for a day since no appointment was made as files went back and forth between the government and the Lt Governor’s office.
Gamlin, among four officers of the 1984 batch whose names were suggested, was appointed Friday.
Sources said Gamlin had earlier been asked to withdraw her name from the panel of officers recommended for the post of acting chief secretary.
Gamlin, sources said, approached the Lt Governor on the issue. The Lt Governor’s office confirmed that they had been informed about it.
In its statement, the government said: “Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Sh. Najeeb Jung, in an extraordinary manner issued instructions directly to the Secretary (Services) to give the additional charge of Chief Secretary of Delhi to Smt. Shakuntala Gamlin… Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor does not have the extraordinary powers under the Constitution to bypass the elected government and issue instructions directly to the secretaries, whatever be the provocation.”
The government said it did not want Gamlin as the acting chief secretary: “The Government of NCT of Delhi had certain reservations about the conduct of Smt. Shakuntala Gamlin because of which the government was hesitant to given the additional charge of chief secretary to her. She was perceived to be extremely close to electricity companies in Delhi and was lobbying for their interests within the government.”
“However, the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor, in a completely unconstitutional manner appointed Smt. Shakuntala Gamlin, to this position. The Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor has acted against the Constitution, GNCT of Delhi Act and the Transaction of Business Rules,” the government said.