AAP government cracks whip against officials with House committees
The legislative committees of late have been summoning top officers to testify before it. The petitions committee on Friday submitted its report on de-silting of storm water drains by the Public Works Department and the municipal corporations ahead of the monsoon season.delhi Updated: Jul 01, 2017 22:50 IST
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has found a new way to ‘fix accountability’ of government officers. The government has taken the legislative committee route to make officers answerable.
Suspecting that a ‘policy paralysis’ has been forced in the Delhi bureaucracy by ‘design’, the legislative committees — which AAP leaders said ‘are as sovereign as the assembly’ — of late have been summoning top officers to testify before it.
The petitions committee on Friday submitted its report on de-silting of storm water drains by the Public Works Department and the municipal corporations ahead of the monsoon season.
The committee report, prepared after field visits along with top officers and their questioning, recommended the chief secretary should conduct a time-bound inquiry into the ‘irregularities’ in the process besides divesting Ashwani Kumar, who is secretary of PWD and Vigilance Department, of his powers pending inquiry.
Similarly, a standing committee of the assembly conducted an on-site inspection of several hoardings put out by the department of information and publicity (DIP) to create awareness about prevention of vector-borne diseases dengue and chikungunya.
Sources said the committee members were accompanied by chief secretary MM Kutty and DIP secretary Jayadev Sarangi, whose removal was recently demanded by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia over ‘non-performance’ including initial refusal by the department to host a Facebook live of Sisodia.
“The house delegates power to these committees with the sole objective to fix accountability of the government and the officers regarding matters of public interest. The committee submits it report in the House, which in turn takes the final call on future action,” said AAP legislator and spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj.
Bharadwaj, former transport minister, is the chairman of the petitions committee which submitted its report in Delhi assembly on Friday.
The development comes in the backdrop of the ‘tense’ relations the Arvind Kejriwal government has had with the lieutenant governor’s office, especially over the administrative jurisdiction.
The Delhi High Court ruling in August 2016 stamped the L-G as the city’s administrative head.
Following the HC order, the AAP government has repeatedly alleged that the bureaucrats, who are accountable to the L-G, have stopped following the instructions of the elected government.
“Through the Rajendra Kumar episode, a sense of fear was instilled in the bureaucracy. When we checked the records, it’s clear that the same officers have been taking several decisions which they were now denying to proceed on citing rules. It’s obvious that they think the power balance is tilted in favour of the L-G and the Centre. Through the legislative committees, an attempt is being made to balance the power,” a senior AAP leader said.
Currently, the Delhi assembly has 19 house committees besides three financial committees. Four ad hoc committees are also in place, which were constituted by the house to probe different matters including those of alleged corruption.