Delhi govt think tank office sealed, LG asks CM to sack Jasmine Shah
The office of Shah was sealed on Thursday night by SDM Civil Lines following an order from the Delhi government planning department to restrict Shah and prevent his access to office
Delhi Lieutenant Governor (L-G) VK Saxena on Friday asked Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to sack Delhi government thinktank, Delhi Dialogue and Development Commission vice chairman Jasmine Shah, over charges of misusing his office for political purposes.
An official in LG office said Shah was given two opportunities to reply to the show cause notice issued on October 17 by the Director of the planning department but Shah failed to submit his reply.
Instead, he informed that the reply was submitted to the Minister of the Planning department.
The LG office wrote a letter to the CM office on November 4, seeking to know the reply of Shah but the CM office till now has not replied to the letter.
Thereafter, LG asked to remove him and in the interim, to prevent any further misuse of the office of DDC, Shah’s office was sealed late Thursday.
Meanwhile, the office of Shah was sealed on Thursday night by SDM Civil Lines following an order from the Delhi government planning department to restrict Shah and prevent his access to office.
Shah holds the rank of a Delhi government cabinet minister.
Planning department is the parent body of the DDDC.
“LG has ordered that Jasmine Shah will be restricted from discharge of functions as vice chairman DDDC and to use any privileges and facilities connected with the office of VC DDDC with immediate effect,” an order dated November 17 issued by Vijender Singh Rawat, director of the planning department stated.
The manpower and staff of Shah have also been ordered to be withdrawn besides locking the chamber of the VC to prevent him any access.
The order further stated, “Accordingly head of office/deputy secretary is hereby directed to give effect to this order immediately. Office chamber of VC may be locked in order to prevent access of the premises the vehicle and manpower and staff facilities shall be withdrawn with immediate effect.”
Accordingly, SDM Civil Lines sealed the office of the DDDC VC on Thursday night.
Reacting on the development, deputy CM Manish Sisodia said the office of Sambit Patra, who is chairman of ITDC should also be sealed.
“Jasmine’s office has been locked by LG alleging that he is AAP spokesperson. Then office of Sambit Patra, who is Chairman ITDC, shud also be sealed since he is spokesperson of BJP”, he said.
Shah was served a notice last month for allegedly using his public office for political activities which amount to misuse of public resources, according to a document seen by HT.
The notice was served over 30 days after BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh lodged a complaint with Delhi LG Saxena alleging that Shah was using his office for political activities like attending political debates on TV on behalf of AAP.
One of the key strengths of AAP government, the DDC has been behind the formulation of various policies and its vice chairman holds the rank of a minister in Delhi government and is entitled to pay, allowances and other facilities at par with the government minister.
Singh had requested LG, in a letter written on September 13, to remove Shah from the post of the DDC VC alleging that he is misusing the office for political gains as he is working as AAP spokesperson.
Singh had also cited how Shah violated the Rule 5 of the Central Civil Services (conduct) Rules, 1964 by acting as official spokesperson of AAP and attending TV debates.
The Planning Department of the Delhi government, which is the administrative department in charge of DDC, carried out an inquiry and after thoroughly analysing various video footages of Shah’s presence in TV shows, transcript of press conferences addressed by him and news reports in newspapers, news portals prima facie found that Shah had been using his government office and other perks to further an extremely partisan political agenda, specifically contrary to the laid down norms for conduct of a public servant, said an official.
The finding of the Planning Department was sent to chief secretary, who further referred it the law department of the Delhi government for its comments and vetting.
“The law department gave its opinion in this matter and opined that Jasmine Shah was a ‘public servant’ and not working on an ‘honorary post’,” the above quoted official said.
The Law Department also concluded that DDC VC is covered under the definition of Public Servant under clause 12(A) of Section 21 of the IPC 1860 and Section 2(C)(i) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988’, said an official. HT has not seen the observation of the law department on the file.
“The law department opined that no public office is allowed to work and function beyond the terms of reference of its creation, and the terms of reference of DDC as created by the cabinet headed by Arvind Kejriwal does not envisage the promotion of any political party,” an official said.
According to the notice (seen by HT) the terms of reference of the DDC include advising the Delhi government on governance and technological solutions to various problems affecting Delhi; to formulate and aid in the formulation of various initiatives relating to development and resource mobilisation among others.
The report of the Law and Planning Departments were scrutinised by the chief secretary and sent to the LG, who in the interest of natural justice, instructed that Shah be given a show cause notice to explain his misconduct, before initiating any further action, an official aware of the matter said.
Singh told HT said even after being public servant, Shah acted as official spokesperson of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and furthered political gains of political party.
“I wrote to the LG to bring this thing in his notice and had demanded his sacking,” said Singh.
The AP government constituted the DDC through a cabinet decision on February 27, 2015.
Since its formation, the think tank has submitted a number of policy reports and recommendations to the Delhi government including Delhi Solar Policy, leveraging technology for dengue vector surveillance, Delhi electric vehicle policy, piloting of battery electric buses, among others.