‘I am the competent authority’: Saurabh Bharadwaj rejects order to reinstate Special Secretary Vigilance

On Monday, Y.V.V.J Rajasekhar, divested of duties by AAP government, had been given back all his work; Bharadwaj says Centre’s Ordinance does not talk about allocation of work in the department

May 24, 2023 12:47 am | Updated 10:30 am IST - New Delhi

Services Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said the order reinstating Mr. Rajasekhar was ‘invalid and illegal’.

Services Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said the order reinstating Mr. Rajasekhar was ‘invalid and illegal’. | Photo Credit: File photo

The ongoing tussle between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Centre over the control over services department got further complicated on Tuesday (May 23), with Cabinet Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj rejecting an order issued on Monday which gave back all his assignments to IAS officer Y.V.V.J.

In an office memorandum, Mr. Bharadwaj, who hold the portfolios of Services and Vigilance, said that he was the competent authority in the matter and Mr. Rajasekhar, Special Secretary in Vigilance and Services departments, remains divested of all his duties.

On Monday (May 22), Mr. Rajasekhar, earlier divested of all work by Mr. Bharadwaj on May 13, was reinstated on all assignments he was handling in the Vigilance department through an order from the office of Secretary (Vigilance).

The May 22 order had said that Mr. Rajasekhar will resume work “as usual” and directed Vigilance department officials “to maintain the status as on May 10 with respect to workflow”. This was the first major Services-related step since the Centre promulgated the on May 19.

Mr. Rajasekhar, apart from looking into the allegations of irregularities related to the renovation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s official residence, was also probing other cases, including the alleged irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy, the ‘feedback unit’ case and the alleged violation in publishing government advertisements.

Mr. Bharadwaj, however, said that the Centre’s Ordinance does not talk about the allocation of work within the department and as per the Supreme Court’s May 11 order, he remains the competent authority for all aspects of work within the department.

Saying that the Monday order was not approved by him, the AAP Minister termed it “unauthorised” and declared it “invalid and illegal”. “No action should be taken as a result of this order,” he wrote, ordering an enquiry into it.

Reiterating his May 13 order for “immediate compliance”, Mr. Bharadwaj said that all work of Mr. Rajasekhar in the Services department would be handled by Special Secretary-II (Services) Kinny Singh, who will directly report to the department Secretary. All files with Mr. Rajasekhar should also be handed over to Ms. Singh, he wrote.

“The work assigned to Mr. Rajasekhar in the Vigilance department is to be distributed amongst ADs (Assistant Directors). The ADs would put up the files directly to Secretary (Vigilance) and will report to Services Secretary,” the memorandum read, adding that the files from Mr. Rajasekhar should be handed over to Vigilance Secretary and be kept safe in his custody.

Soon after the Monday’s order, Mr. Rajasekhar had gotten back into action and directed Vigilance department officials to prepare an inventory of the files and records in his office as well as in the confidential section.

Mr. Rajasekhar had earlier alleged that his office was searched on the intervening night of May 15-16. Mr. Rajasekhar had alleged that some files or records “might have been destroyed” during the alleged search.

It is worth noting here that while the Supreme Court, in its order, had handed over the reins of Services to the elected government, the Central with its Ordinance reversed the SC judgement to wrest back the control of the department. The Lieutenant-Governor was the authority in the services matter before the SC judgement.

The Ordinance constituted a National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA), headed by the Chief Minister and comprising the Chief Secretary and the Principal Home Secretary of Delhi as members, to decide by majority vote the transfer, posting and vigilance matters of all Group A officers and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Civil) Services officers, with the Lieutenant-Governor having the final say.

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