In a strongly worded communication, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has criticised the practice of bureaucrats getting decisions approved and passing orders without approval of Cabinet Ministers, and sought a list of all such instances from senior officials, including the Chief Secretary. The circular was issued by the Chief Minister’s Office on August 8, it is learnt.
Department heads have been asked to send reports to the Chief Minister’s Office by August 20.
The Delhi government, which has fought a legal battle with the Union government over jurisdictional matters, has always been combative about decision-making where the minister in-charges are not kept in the loop.
Delhi is a Union Territory with a legislative assembly and a Lt- Governor as its administrative head. The Supreme Court had, in July 2018, ruled largely in favour of the elected government, identifying it as the centre of authority in all subjects except land, police and public order. Since then, the respective ministers have issued several standing orders, seeking to stamp their primacy in matters of governance.
However, going by Kejriwal’s latest directive, “multiple instances” have come to light where ministers have flagged concern over being kept out of decision-making.
In the latest circular, Kejriwal listed three types of violations: Decisions taken without approval of minister concerned, departments seeking each other’s opinion without the minister’s nod, and framing official positions without the ministers’ concurrence.
Kejriwal pointed out that despite such instructions, instances have come to light where the orders were flouted. The CM has said the possibility of this being done deliberately or with “mala fide intention” cannot be ruled out. Accordingly, principal secretaries, secretaries and Chief Secretary have been directed to submit reports listing violations by August 20. Ministers have also directed officials to expedite the process.
The latest development comes against the backdrop of Law Minister Kailash Gahlot’s order to departments that files need not be routed through the Lt-Governor’s office in light of the SC verdict. He said the idea behind keeping the L-G in loop on various proposals and agendas of the government does not mean his prior concurrence is required on every issue.