In a communication to Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev, the Delhi Assembly has flagged “violation of protocols” by government officers who are allegedly not responding to representations of MLAs — an issue which is likely to be placed before a House committee on “contemptuous behaviour by officers with public representatives”.
Assembly Deputy Secretary (Legislation) Sunil Dutt Sharma wrote to Dev earlier this month on the directions of Speaker Ram Niwas Goel. The matter was subsequently raised with all heads of departments on July 7, with the General Administration Department (GAD) directing them to respond to the complaint.
The ties between the political executive led by the AAP and the bureaucracy in Delhi were strained during the party’s second term in office between 2015 and 2020. Senior officers were called for privilege proceedings for allegedly not responding or issuing delayed answers to questions raised in the House.
The Indian Express has learnt that the latest episode was sparked by a letter, dated June 2, written by AAP MLA B S Joon. The Bijwasan legislator, who is also a former director of prosecution of Delhi government, wrote to Speaker Goel raising what he called was a “very disturbing practice” prevalent in the departments of Delhi government.
“Government officials who are otherwise under obligation to respond to and reply to correspondences made by public representatives to redress the grievances of the general public are violating the said protocol.
“Unfortunately, most government officials at the district level and Delhi Secretariat level do not prefer to reply to letters written by the MLAs, in the capacity of public representatives in respect of various issues,” Joon wrote, requesting instructions be issued that their queries are attended to.
The Speaker then directed the assembly deputy secretary (legislation) to write to the Chief Secretary, seeking his comments on the matter, and adding that it will be placed before the House Committee.
GAD Deputy Secretary Promila Mitra also wrote to the additional chief secretary, all the principal secretaries, heads of autonomous bodies, highlighting the matter. She also reiterated that the House committee will take up the issue, for which replies need to be sent directly to the assembly.
The assembly secretariat has not yet fixed a date of the proposed meeting of the committee. However, on July 9, Dev issued a circular emphasising that the manual of office procedure stipulates that communications received from VIPs should be attended to promptly.
“It has been brought to my notice that instructions are not being followed scrupulously. It is hereby directed that each communication received from a MP/MLA/VIP shall be acknowledged forthwith, followed by a reply which shall be sent within 15 days of acknowledgement sent. Appropriate record shall be maintained in respect of such communications and shall be monitored by the HoD concerned,” he wrote.
A large section of government employees led by senior IAS officers had hit the streets and later boycotted work for over three months in 2018, over an instance of alleged assault on then Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash by two AAP MLAs.
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