Tussle Brewing as AAP Govt Alleges Centre Scuttling Transfer of Delhi Services Secretary

A tussle simmered between the Kejriwal government and the Centre on Friday, with the AAP dispensation accusing the central government of obstructing transfer of the city’s services secretary, a day after the Supreme Court gave the Delhi government control over the transfer and posting of its officers.

Sources said the Delhi government is planning a major bureaucratic overhaul even though the implementation of its decision to transfer Services Department Secretary Ashish More has run into rough weather.

The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has approached the Supreme Court again, alleging the Centre was not implementing its decision to transfer Services Secretary Ashish More. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said he will constitute a bench to hear the matter next week.

The Delhi government claimed in a statement that More has “refused” to consider the file for appointment of a new officer (AK Singh, IAS) to replace him. “Instead of putting up the file, he left the secretariat without informing the services minister’s office,” the statement added.

The sources said More went on a casual leave on Friday.

The apex court ruled on Thursday that the elected government in Delhi has legislative and executive powers over services department matters, barring those related to land, police and public order that still come under the jurisdiction of the lieutenant governor.

More was removed from his post on Thursday, hours after the Supreme Court gave the AAP dispensation control over the transfer and posting of officers in the city.

The sources claimed that More was still not transferred as he was ordered to be removed from his post against the established procedure.

“Even as the transfer of More has not been effected, the AAP government is ready for large-scale transfers of senior officers, including many principal secretaries and heads of departments. This will happen as soon as the present case is decided by the court,” a top source in the government claimed.

Soon after the SC verdict on Thursday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said a major reshuffle of officers in the city government would be carried out in the coming days. He also warned that officers who allegedly obstructed works would ”face the music”.

The sources claimed that the decision to transfer More was taken without keeping the Delhi’s Civil Services Board (CSB) in the loop. In the case of More, the rule of first putting up the matter for consideration of the board was not followed, they said.

The CSB was constituted by the Delhi government in 2014 as per the All India Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954.

The board is mandated to examine the cases of officers who are proposed to be transferred before the completion of their minimum tenure, and seek justification for doing so.

It was also claimed by the sources that the decision to transfer More was taken even as a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification placing the services department under the LG’s jurisdiction was yet to be withdrawn in the light of the Supreme Court order on Thursday.

The Delhi government said in its statement that for initiating a large-scale administrative reshuffle, Services minister Saurabh Bhardwaj instructed More to present a file for the transfer of a new officer to the post of Secretary of Services department.

“Disturbingly, it has come to light that, possibly under the influence of the Central government, the special secretary of the Services department sent a communication to Services minister Bhardwaj, indicating that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification dated May 21, 2015, has not yet been set aside,” it said.

No file was initiated by him for posting of a new officer on the post of services secretary, it said.

It has been brought to the attention of More that his “failure to comply with the orders of the Supreme Court” would potentially be considered ”contempt of court”, read the Delhi government statement.

“It is unfortunate that the Central government and the Lieutenant Governor seem unwilling to adhere to the directives of the highest court in the country,” the Delhi government charged in its statement.

No reaction was immediately available from LG office over charges by the AAP dispensation.

Meanwhile, in the Secretariat, ministers held meetings with officers, taking stock of the situation and discussing pending projects and programmes of the government. The chief minister also reached the Secretariat, officials said.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)

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