Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain has accused his secretary of dereliction of duty and not taking preventive measures to prevent the outbreak of chikungunya.
In an affidavit before the Supreme Court, Jain claimed the secretary Chandrakar Bharti was not available for discussion on several occasions and also disobeyed his request to participate in meetings.
Jain filed the affidavit in personal capacity on Monday after a bench headed by justice MB Lokur rebuked him for not filing it on October 1.
Jain said the secretary believed that the Lieutenant Governor and not the minister was the competent authority. He submitted the L-G appointed Bharti as health secretary despite the minister’s request not to do so. The previous incumbent, Indian Revenue Service officer, Tarun Seem had undertaken suitable initiatives, he said.
Seem’s removal came at a time when preparations to tackle the vector-borne disease had begun. His transfer affected government’s preparedness to prevent the outbreak. Jain said Bharti took no interest to establish mohalla clinics and went on leave upon assuming the office.
“He did not have the courtesy to meet me but instead proceeded on sanctioned leave without my knowledge or approval. I came to learn later that the office of the L-G had granted him leave from September 5 to 15,” Jain’s affidavit mentioned.
Although the secretary rejoined on September 14, he did not attend any review meetings that took place to deal with the crisis arising out of dengue and chikungunya.
“Notwithstanding the secretary having been informed both orally by my staff as well as by the issuance of the note, the secretary chose to remain absent from the prescheduled meetings on September 19 and 22,” stated Jain, providing copies of the attendance sheets of the meetings.
Bharti, he said, sat over important files and cleared some only on September 30 after the top court heard the public interest litigation (PIL) related to the chikungunya outbreak.
“In the last 20 days, I have personally visited 15 hospitals interacting with the doctors, interacted with the patients to determine the status of the healthcare which is being provided,” Jain said. As a minister, Jain added, he has attempted to be “extremely congenial to all civil servants”.
“I must say that many of them have appreciated my sincerity and have cooperated with me but it is regrettable that when senior civil servants who exercise authority do not discharge their functions, and undermine the legal authority of the ministers responsible,” the affidavit said.