New Delhi | Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena wrote to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday alleging "unconstitutional brazenness, intimidation and disregard of rules and procedures" by the AAP government following the Supreme Court verdict on services matters.
In the letter, the lieutenant governor said that in the past one week, a "gloomy face of governance" emerged in Delhi where "organised, structured and specialised administrative machinery" is yet again facing the "brunt" of "highhandedness" of the political executive.
"I write to you to bring to your notice the unconstitutional brazenness, intimidation and disregard of rules and procedures being indulged into by your government and its ministers, especially...(Services) Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj, ever since the Constitution Bench judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court dated 11.05.2023," Saxena's letter read.
Alleging a "chaotic style of governance", Saxena claimed that decisions were being conveyed to him through Twitter and the media and that he was being held to ransom through consistent media pressure.
The LG referred to his meeting with Kejriwal after the Supreme Court verdict gave executive powers in services matters, including transfer and posting of officers, to the AAP dispensation.
"...I told you in no uncertain terms that the Constitution, law of the land and the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court were sacrosanct for me and I would follow the same in letter and spirit, once the judgment had been studied by my officers. When you specifically enquired about as to whether an order will be issued by my Secretariat, suppressing the earlier order dated 28.04.2021 issued by my Secretariat, I specifically told you that it would take 2-3 days and we could discuss the same either in person or over phone," Saxena said.
The lieutenant governor said it was unfortunate that Kejriwal and his ministers "in a dramatic and convoluted fashion, immediately went on a rampage issuing orders, in gross disregard of the rules and procedures laid down with regards to administrative functions through the Civil Services Board (CSB), as per directions of none less but the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India itself, in 2013 in the matter of TSR Subramanian vs. Union of India".
"A witch-hunt, harassment of officers, media trials, threats and street postures were resorted to so as to ensure that the Lt. Governor discharges his duties as per the whims and fancies of the Ministers of GNCTD... Indeed, what emerged during the last one week can be termed as one of the those gloomy phases of governance in National Capital where the organized, structured and specialized administrative machinery is yet again facing the brunt of highhandedness of the political executive," the letter read.
Saxena also flagged instances of alleged "misbehaviour" by Services Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj with IAS officers, including a woman officer.
He also referred to allegations of alleged trespass in an officer's chamber and "taking unlawful custody of certain files, which were related to cases of corruption like those in the new Excise Policy and the residence of the Hon'ble Chief Minister, among others, that were being looked into by the Department".
"Moreover, vehement and unreasonable demands for removal of the head of administration of GNCTD, the Chief Secretary, and casting aspersions on him of putting undue influence on other two members of the Civil Services Board, as evident from the minutes of the CSB dated May 16, 2023, are an oxymoron, since every meeting including that of the Council of Ministers is headed by a person and that person can, as per your logic, coerce the other members present in the meeting as per his wishes since he is senior," the letter stated.
Saxena said the recent letters to him "pressing for approval of such unjustified and unlawful proposals" repeatedly shows that the "current dispensation wants to coerce administration unethically and unwarrantedly by resorting to forcing the officers to do their illegal bidding or face consequences".
"Insulting an officer repeatedly, using offensive language, taking course to intimidating posturing by the political executive in order to threaten the officers, reflects upon the character of the political executive as well as a deteriorating relation between the political executive and the bureaucracy.
"An officer is bounden to the Constitution of this land and is to work in a fearless environment, but Delhi is setting an example where an officer is not only curtailed from giving his free opinion in any matter but the political executive also threatens the officers with dire consequences that include threats of jeopardising their career in case the officer fails to bow down and toe the line," the LG noted.
The lieutenant governor's letter referred to the allegation of Services Secretary Ashish More, who was removed by the AAP dispensation, against minister Saurabh Bharadwaj.
Without naming the officer, the lieutenant governor wrote, "The officer with close to two decades of professional experience while elaborating the misbehaviour meted out to him by Shri Bhardwaj, mentions that when he was forced to sign a dictated statement of Hon'ble Minister, he was intimidated with the minister shouting 'sign kar, aise kaise sign nahi karega.. tere ko karna hi padega. Isske baad tera career khatam. Teri toh zindagi barbaad karke rahunga. Iss Dilli... Chiarg Dilli ka rahena wala hu' (Sign it, you have to sign. After that, your career is over. I will ruin your life. I hail from Chirag Dilli)." Saxena asked Kejriwal to take his letter in "right stead and spirit and ensure concrete action for the mitigation of issues" raised by him.
"You would appreciate that any court of law will not stand facilitator of the unconstitutional and unlawful tactics being adopted by any government," he wrote to the chief minister.
The letter to Kejriwal came after Delhi Cabinet ministers went to Saxena's residence to request him to follow the Supreme Court's verdict on matters pertaining to services. They later met the LG, with minister Atishi saying that he assured them of following the Supreme Court verdict.