Lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung has sought an explanation from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government on how Swati Maliwal, wife of an AAP leader, was appointed the chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) without his approval.
Jung has scrapped the appointment of Maliwal, 30, and declared his office synonymous with the government of Delhi.
The latest flashpoint between the LG and Arvind Kejriwal's government was a letter from Jung’s office to the chief minister saying his approval had not been sought in appointing Maliwal.
The LG, who represents the Centre, and the AAP government in Delhi have been engaged in a bitter turf war over the appointment of senior officials with both the sides asserting that the other was exceeding the brief. The appointment of Swati Maliwal, wife of AAP leader Naveen Jaihind, to the post had been criticised by the AAP’s rivals who called it a political posting.
The explanation was sought in a letter to the women and child development department. Copies were marked to the member secretary, Delhi Commission for Women and the principal secretary to the chief minister.
“Principal secretary (social welfare) GNCTD, with the request to furnish the facts and circumstances in which the said notification was issued ‘by order and in the name of the Lt. Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi’ without, however, obtaining the approval of the Lt. Governor. He is further requested to clarify/confirm whether all applicable rules and procedures were followed while processing this matter,” states the letter sent by SCL Das, secretary to LG Najeeb Jung.
The letter has asked member secretary of the women’s panel to convey it to the government and commission that any action taken by them would be ‘ultra vires’. The member secretary has also been asked to ‘apprise the commission…of the rule position and established practices’.
Government sources said the women and child welfare department has prepared its reply and sent it to minister incharge, Sandeep Kumar. The chief minister’s office has also been asked to submit the matter to LG’s office for consideration at the earliest.
Maliwal’s predecessor Barkha Singh said AAP was trying divert people’s attention from real issues.
“It is not that they do not know the procedure. They have done this before during their 49-day tenure when they pressed for Maitreyi Pushpa’s appointment. It is high time the government should deliver on the promise to protect the women in Delhi instead of playing dirty politics,” said Singh.
Maliwal said she respects the "constitutionality" of LG's office and hoped the "minor" issue will be resolved.
"I think this is a minor technical glitch because what is being said is that the file (my appointment) was not sent to LG's office. I think it will get resolved. It is not a very major issue," she told reporters.