Kejriwal vs Jung: Fresh standoff between LG and AAP Govt over ACB appointments
New Delhi: A fresh confrontation erupted yesterday between the Delhi government and Lt Governor Najeeb Jung over drafting of five Bihar policemen into Anti-Corruption Branch as he rejected the appointments, an action which was backed by the Centre but severely criticised by the AAP.
Three inspectors and two sub-inspectors of Bihar Police have joined the elite ACB following a request by the AAP government to the Bihar administration, a move seen as an effort to reduce the anti-graft body's reliance on Delhi Police.
Reacting strongly to the decision, Jung's office said he rejected the appointments as they do not have his approval and that the ACB functions under his direct authority and control.
The fresh round of confrontation came nearly two weeks after a fierce stand-off between the Kejriwal government and Jung over appointment of senior bureaucrats. The matter has reached court.
"ACB Delhi, being a police station, functions under the authority, control and supervision of the Lt Governor, a position that has also been clarified by the Ministry of Home Affairs, vide Notification No 1368 (E), dated 21st May 2015.
"The office of the Lt Governor has so far not received any proposal for the deputation of such personnel from outside Delhi Police. The matter will be duly examined as and when the Lt. Governor receives the formal proposal from the Vigilance department of Delhi government," the LG's office said in a statement.
Sources said the AAP government was in touch with governments of some non-BJP states for bringing officials for the ACB.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia attacked the LG and the Centre saying "They will not obey the Constitution, Court order and the law. They may say someday that they will run the White House through the LG."
The Union Home Ministry backed the LG saying no appointment can be made in the ACB of the Delhi government without his nod. A senior Home Ministry official said as per the CrPC, the ACB is a police station and the police in Delhi comes under the LG.
Addressing a press conference, AAP leader Ashutosh slammed the Centre and the Lt Governor accusing them of creating hurdles in ACB's functioning. "If ACB is strengthened who needs to be scared? Only those who are corrupt. LG's opposition to the move is against the will of the people."
However, the BJP supported Jung and accused the AAP government of picking up "unnecessary fights" with the LG and not following the Constitution.
"The AAP government cannot run a government by bulldozing the Constitution and other laid down norms and procedures. The LG is right that his approval is necessary for hiring officials for ACB," Delhi BJP President Satish Upadhyay said.
The AAP government justified the appointments and made a stinging attack on the Lt Governor and the Centre while asserting that it has "full power" to hire officials for the ACB.
"Delhi Government has full power to take police officers from anywhere in the country. Previously too it had been done. The Centre is making a joke of everything. Sometimes they make LG to say that officers will come under it, sometimes they make LG to say ACB will come under it," Sisodia said.
The AAP government and the Lt Governor have been involved in a public spat over his powers vis-a-vis an elected government. The Centre had on May 21 issued a notification siding with the Lt Governor.
Speaking at the assembly session recently, Kejriwal had said that the notification conferring more powers on Lt Governor Jung was part of an "experiment" to take the country towards "dictatorship."
In the notification, the Centre had given absolute powers to the LG in appointment of bureaucrats while also clarifying that he need not "consult" the chief minister on subjects like police and public order.
The matter has already reached the court.
Kejriwal had recently conveyed to chief ministers of Bihar, UP and West Bengal among others that the Centre's notification, throwing its weight behind the Lt Governor, was "detrimental" to India's federal structure and it may happen to their states as well.
Delhi Police and ACB have recently come face to face after some of the former's men were arrested by the anti-graft unit for allegedly accepting bribe.
The move to induct policemen from Bihar also seems to be aimed at reducing ACB's reliance on Delhi Police as till now all its officers were derived from it.