New Delhi: Amid brewing trouble between bureaucrats and the Delhi Cabinet, the AAP government has called for withdrawing all work from Special Secretary (Vigilance) YVVJ Rajshekhar, who is probing the alleged corruption in the renovation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s bungalow.
In a reply to his superiors, Rajshekhar said he was being “prevented from performing his duties” and apprehended “serious threat and diversion of records” pertaining to sensitive matters like the excise policy and the chief minister’s residence renovation. He also requested that the matter be taken to the High Court for a stay.
Citing complaints against Rajshekhar for allegedly running an extortion racket and demanding protection money, Delhi Vigilance Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj on May 13 ordered withdrawing all work assigned to the officer with immediate effect.
Sources said Rajshekhar is the vigilance officer probing the alleged Delhi liquor scam and the renovation of the Delhi chief minister's bungalow. He is also probing the demolition of a heritage monument by the then CEO of Delhi Jal Board, Udit Prakash, to construct a sprawling bungalow for himself.
In a statement, the government said, “There were numerous complaints of extortion and collection of protection money from corrupt individuals against the Special Secretary Vigilance. The Delhi Government follows a zero-tolerance policy against corruption and can not turn a blind eye to such corrupt practices. Therefore, the Special Secretary Vigilance has been relieved of his duties. Since central govt and LG are not letting us implement SC order, we could not transfer him and his work has been assigned to other officers.” When contacted, the officer confirmed receiving the note.
“I have sent the report to my seniors regarding the note of the honourable minister. Rest is Ishwar ki marzi (will of God),” Rajshekhar said.
According to the official note sent to the officer, “There are complaints that Rajshekhar is running an extortion racket and demanding protection money. This allegation is quite serious which needs to be examined in detail…Therefore, all work assigned to Rajshekhar is hereby withdrawn.
“The same may be distributed amongst ADs and ADs will directly report to Secretary (Vigilance). The ADs should directly put up the files to Secretary (Vigilance). This is for immediate compliance till further orders.” The minister also distributed Rajshekhar’s work among the assistant directors (ADs) in the vigilance department with specific directions to the ADs to report and put up files directly to the secretary (Vigilance).
Sources said Bharadwaj had also directed that records from the senior IAS officer’s room be seized.
The IAS officer, who is holding the charge of Special Secretary (Vigilance) with the additional charge of Special Secretary (Services), said he is a “Member of IAS and protected under Rule 311 of the Constitution of India and also protected under Rule 7 of IAS (Cadre Rules 1954)”.
“One cannot deny the rights which are accrued to a civil servant/public servant under the rule which he is entitled for,” he said in his reply.
Stressing that he must be allowed to perform his duties objectively and dispassionately as per the rule of law and documents and records that are available on the file, Rajshekhar underlined that vigilance inquiries are done as per the set protocols and manuals prepared by the Central Vigilance Commission (VGC).
“It is just like Mathematics and there is no scope for subjectivity while dealing with such cases as this case is filtered through due process as established by law.
“The undersigned is being prevented from performing the duties and I apprehend serious threat and diversions of records pertaining to sensitive matters like Excise matter, 6 Flag Staff Road, Civil Lines, DIP etc. It is requested that this matter may be brought to the notice of the High Court to stay the order issued by the minister (Vigilance) vide his note dated 13.05.2023,” he said.
The senior IAS officer also urged that permission may be accorded to engage Sanjay Jain, ASG, before the High Court, along with Yoginder Handoo as Special Counsel/Briefing Counsel, and if need be, the matter may also be brought before the notice of the Supreme Court wherein permission may be accorded to engage Harish Salve, senior counsel in the Supreme Court.
He also noted that this kind of restraint to perform the duties amounts to “indirectly transferring the undersigned from this Department which is nothing but subverting the decision of the Supreme Court dated 31.10.2013 wherein the officer can be transferred only through deliberation of the Civil Services Board”.
“One cannot do indirectly what they cannot do directly. The officer is also entitled for rights that are provided to him under the All India Services Cadre Rules i.e. Rule 7,” Rajshekhar said in his reply to the seniors.
The development comes in the wake of Kejriwal announcing last week about a major bureaucratic reshuffle in the coming days and warning action against officers who “create hurdles” in public work.
The Delhi government has issued a show cause notice to IAS officer and services department secretary Ashish More for not complying with its direction to replace him with a new officer, threatening disciplinary action against him.
More was removed by the Delhi government from his post last week, hours after the Supreme Court gave the AAP dispensation control over the transfer and posting of officers in the state.
Earlier in the day, when Cabinet minister Atishi was asked about the showcause notice issued to More, she replied, “There are some officers who are not reporting to work. Such officers will be served showcause notices. But this situation is persisting with some officers. In fact, officers in all the departments are working efficiently. Those officers who are not following the orders of the Supreme Court will face strict action,” she added.
The apex court ruled on Thursday last 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.