A bitter turf tussle between the Delhi government and Centre escalated on Tuesday with the AAP administration transferring the home secretary and refusing to allow a senior police officer appointed by the lieutenant governor to take charge as chief of the city’s anti-corruption branch.
Sources said while bureaucrat Dharam Pal was ordered to move out by the Aam Aadmi Party government, he continued to discharge his duties as L-G Najeeb Jung termed the directive null and void.
The fresh confrontation was triggered by Jung’s decision on Monday to appoint Delhi police joint commissioner MK Meena as the head of the ACB in place of additional commissioner of police SS Yadav who was handpicked by Kejriwal in April.
“What is the conspiracy by creating a new post of joint commissioner in the ACB and appointing your favourite officers?” deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia tweeted, though experts said in the past five years at least three joint CP rank Delhi Police officers served as the head of the anti-corruption body.
The power struggle between Kejriwal and Jung is rooted in Delhi’s unique position as a union territory functioning as the Capital, with the state government having no say over several important departments and agencies that function under the lieutenant governor, who reports to the Centre.
On a day the city law minister was arrested following accusations of fraudulently obtaining a law degree, SK Jain, secretary and director of the AAP government’s vigilance department, wrote to Meena and urged him to return to Delhi Police.
“There is only one post of an Additional Commissioner of Police at the ACB which is presently occupied. As there is no such sanctioned post, you cannot take charge or hold a non-existent post. I am therefore directed to ask you to revert to Delhi Police,” he said.
Meena, however, defied the government’s order. He was spotted at the ACB headquarters in north Delhi throughout the day as he held meetings with officers including some Delhi Police inspectors who were transferred to the branch by the L-G on Monday.
“I joined the ACB on Monday night. I had a meeting with the officers and will work to fight corruption, as is the mandate of the ACB,” he told HT.
Later in the day, he sent a rejoinder to Jain, warning him of legal action if he interfered in the agency’s functioning.
“I am informing you that I am the head of the ACB and any such reference regarding a change is to be addressed to L-G Delhi. Such reference should not be directly addressed to me as L-G Delhi is the competent authority…In future you may not interfere in the working of the ACB. Otherwise, I will be constrained to initiate legal action against you as per law,” he emphasised.
Jung also rejected the transfer of Dharam Pal, who issued the order appointing Meena following the L-G’s directives.
Within minutes of the government’s relocation order, Dharam Pal’s deputy Alok Garg had released a directive, withdrawing the instruction to appoint Meena.
Jung’s office issued a rejoinder to Garg and warned him of “appropriate action” if such orders were issued without the L-G’s knowledge.