The union home ministry on Thursday cancelled Delhi government's order transferring home secretary Dharam Pal, but chief minister Arvind Kejriwal immediately hit back saying he was acting within his powers.
Kejriwal shot off a letter to Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung, with a copy to the MHA, stating that the powers to declare null and void any government order lies only with the judiciary.
He also pointed out that giving additional or temporary charge to any official rests with the state govt as per section 55(2) of the Transaction of Business Rules. He also attached a letter from former solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam backing the AAP government's point of view.
In the morning, the MHA declared Pal's transfer order as "void" saying that under the cadre rules of all India joint services, only the Centre can remove an officer from the post of Delhi home secretary.
The latest exchange escalated the ongoing turf war over the appointment of bureaucrats, with the Delhi state government on one side, and the lieutenant governor and the union government on the other.
Pal was transferred out by the Kejriwal government on Tuesday after he signed a notification appointing joint commissioner of Delhi Police MK Meena as the new chief of the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) at Jung's directive. But the L-G reinstated him and asked him to continue in the same post.
Delhi at present as two home secretaries -- Rajendra Kumar, who was appointed by the AAP government and Dharam Pal, who followed the Lt Governor's orders.
Delhi home minister Satyendra Jain has, according to officials sources, sent out a circular saying Pal should not have access to files. Pal , on the other hand, sits in his office all day long and refuses to take orders from the minister.
This is not the first time that civil servants have been caught in the crossfire between the L-G and the AAP government.
Recently, Anindo Majumdar was removed by CM Kejriwal as principal secretary of the services department after he followed Jung's instructions and issued a notification appointing senior bureaucrat Shakuntla Gamlin as the acting chief secretary. Majumdar was also locked out of his office.