Delhi Cabinet passes resolution against LG in fresh face-off

In an unprecedented move, the Delhi Cabinet on Friday passed resolutions, challenging Lt Governor Najeeb Jung's authority to relieve the VAT Commissioner who it alleged was targeted for "fighting graft", and appointed a GoM to protect bureaucrats from "political victimisation".

PTI| Updated: Oct 23, 2015, 20:23 PM IST
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New Delhi: In an unprecedented move, the Delhi Cabinet on Friday passed resolutions, challenging Lt Governor Najeeb Jung's authority to relieve the VAT Commissioner who it alleged was targeted for "fighting graft", and appointed a GoM to protect bureaucrats from "political victimisation".

In the first resolution, the Cabinet, presided over by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, asked Jung to explain the "compelling circumstances" which forced him to transfer Vijay Kumar and wanted to know whether it was linked to the raids the bureaucrat carried out against 200 fraudulent companies as well as on an international food chain.

The Cabinet posed four specific questions to the LG which included whether it was true that he had summoned Kumar after passing his relieving order and threatened him to leave Delhi immediately and that whether he received written or oral instructions from PMO or MHA to relieve the tax official.

Rebutting the charges, the LG's Secretariat said Jung acted on the basis of orders from the Ministry of Home Affairs. It said Home Ministry on October 9 had issued directions that five officers who were earlier transferred from Delhi to other Union Territories since should be relieved with immediate effect. It said Kumar's name figured among these five officers.

Talking about reports of alleged intimidation of officers by the LG, Jung's office said it did not wish to comment on the issue in view of "several episodes of poor treatment" meted out by the elected government to the Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, Power Secretary and Law Secretary and others.

In the second resolution, the Cabinet decided to appoint a GoM which will protect officers from political victimisation and authorised it to take all steps required to deal with such issues including providing legal support at government's cost.

The Cabinet slammed Jung for relieving Kumar without consulting the elected government and said, "Unilateralism is one thing. Acting outside the remit of one's own powers is another.

"It requires special mention here that LG does not have the powers to relieve officers. It is the elected executive, which alone has the power to do so. Therefore, such action on the part of LG was also an illegal and invalid exercise of power," a resolution passed by the Cabinet said.

In a statement, the government said Kumar had raided a well-connected trader in Old Delhi, an international food chain and a politically powerful dealer of automobiles. The last VAT raid under his leadership was on the night of September 30.

"In this raid, as many as 200 fraudulent companies that existed only on paper, were discovered. These companies have been found to be involved in massive and organised tax evasions," it said.