Senior government officials who found themselves caught in the turf war between the AAP government and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung adopted a wait and watch policy as the Delhi High Court held that “Services” are under the authority of the LG.
“Services”, according to the HC, which include the IAS/IPS as well as AGMUT/ DANICS /DANIPS, do not come under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government as Delhi is a “Union Territory” administered by the Centre through the LG. The court upheld the May 21, 2015 notification which had allowed the LG to exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the central government with regard to the “Services”. The court said since the Constitution recognised only the “central” and “state” services, Delhi as a UT did not have control over the officials of the central services.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office had earlier asked bureaucrats not to send files to the LG office, which was the norm till then. As the government asked officials to work as per their discretion, a turf war over distribution of power and jurisdictional issues in the capital ensued. This issue was also put to rest, as the HC held it was “mandatory” under the Constitution to “communicate the decision of the Council of Ministers to the Lt Governor even in relation to the matters in respect of which power to make laws has been conferred on the Legislative Assembly”.
The government faced criticism for allegedly making conditions tough for officials who sided with the LG office. Former GAD principal secretary who issued orders appointing former power secretary as acting chief secretary was locked out of office. The IAS association got involved in the issue when senior bureaucrat Shakuntala D Gamlin — principal secretary in the power department who had been appointed acting chief secretary by Jung — was forced to go on leave.
Senior officials went on long leaves till they were transferred either out of the city or the Secretariat. The home department became a battleground when principal secretary, home, IAS officer Dharampal, was asked to step down by the government, but he stayed put as the LG asked him to. Later, he sought central deputation and moved to the Ministry of Fertilisers.
In December last year, the Delhi government suspended two senior DANICS officials after they allegedly refused to sign two cabinet notes. The MHA called the suspension void ab initio. Following the suspension, DANICS officials and IAS officials went on mass leave on December 31, a day before the odd-even scheme was implemented. Kejriwal alleged the move was instigated by the Centre.
Recent transfers of 11 DANICS officials saw Deputy CM Manish Sisodia allege that the Centre had removed all the officials who were tasked with crucial work, leaving the government paralysed.