Amid Row With Centre Over Postings, AAP Rejects Order To Reinstate Officer

New Delhi:

Digging in heels, the AAP government on Tuesday rejected an order to reinstate YVVJ Rajasekhar as special secretary (vigilance), with Delhi minister Saurabh Bhardwaj, who had divested the bureaucrat of his charge, asserting that he was the competent authority in the matter.

Vigilance minister Bhardwaj termed the order issued on Monday by the vigilance directorate as “unauthorised and illegal” and directed withdrawal of all work and files from Rajasekhar.

It is the latest fallout of the ongoing tug-of-war between the Centre and the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government to control administrative services in the national capital.

The vigilance directorate order reinstating Rajasekhar was the first such direction after the Centre promulgated an ordinance that effectively brought services matters, including transfer and posting of bureaucrats, in the Delhi government back to the Lieutenant Governor’s domain.

The ordinance was brought by the Centre after the Supreme Court verdict on May 11 gave executive control over services-related matters to the elected arm of the Delhi government.

Bhardwaj, in an office memorandum, claimed that he was the competent authority and asserted that the order issued on Monday by vigilance directorate to reinstate Rajasekhar was “unauthorised, invalid and illegal” and no action should be taken based on it.

Rajasekhar, who was divested of his charge on Bhardwaj’s orders, had resumed work in the capacity of special secretary of both vigilance and services departments and attended office after the vigilance order.

Asked about the minister’s stand, Rajasekhar on Tuesday said the matter is sub-judice.

“I have not seen any such directions. In any case, the matter is still sub-judice. Why I am being targeted? As far as I am concerned, we are all doing our selfless service. Let me concentrate on my job,” he said.

On Monday, he had asked his subordinates in the vigilance directorate to prepare an inventory of files and records in his office as well as in the confidential section.

Earlier, he had alleged a break-in at his office on the intervening night of May 15-16 and complained to higher-ups about suspected “tampering” with “sensitive files” including those related to probes in excise policy, and renovation of the chief minister’s official residence among others.

Bhardwaj, in his memorandum, said that the Supreme Court verdict had inter-alia held that as a matter of constitutional mandate, “the power in respect of services matter will be exercised by the elected arm of Delhi government” and all civil servants are accountable to the ministers of their respective departments.

“And whereas an ordinance has been gazetted by the Central Government on May 19, 2023 that purports to establish an Authority for the exercise of certain powers, but this does not include allocation of work within the department,” said the memorandum.

Bhardwaj asserted that, as the vigilance minister, he was the ‘Competent Authority’ for all aspects of work within the department including allocation of work.

Before the apex court verdict, the Lt Governor was the competent authority in the services matters. The ordinance brought by the Centre restores the earlier position for all practical purposes.

Bhardwaj, however, claimed in his memorandum that the vigilance directorate’s order reinstating Rajasekhar was not approved by him as the “competent authority”.

“Therefore, the said order is unauthorised and is hereby declared invalid and illegal. No action should be taken as a result of this order,” read the memorandum.

Bhardwaj also said that his previous orders for withdrawing work from Rajasekhar, in both vigilance and services departments, will be followed in letter and spirit.

He also sought immediate compliance with his previous orders including withdrawal of all work assigned to Rajasekhar. He allocated Rajasekhar’s work in the vigilance directorate to Special Secretary II (services) Kinny Singh.

Bhardwaj also directed that files which are with Rajasekhar in the vigilance directorate should be handed over to the Secretary (Vigilance) for safe custody.

A separate inquiry must be instituted to enquire how the “unauthorised order” was issued by the directorate, the minister said in the memorandum.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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