AAP govt to lose control over anti-graft body, Kejriwal's wing clipped
The Narendra Modi-led central government hasn't just taken away the Delhi government's right to be consulted on police, public order and services but also set the ground to take the anti-corruption branch (ACB) away from chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's control and place it under the lieutenant governor.
A notification released on Thursday made it clear that services - the power to hire, transfer and fire officers - was never in the domain of CM Kejriwal's powers and made it optional for the lieutenant governor to "obtain the views" of the CM "wherever he deems it appropriate".
Having made this point, it went on to clip the ACB's wings. And possibly, Kejriwal's too.
The notification amended the 1993 order of the Lt-Governor - that empowered the ACB to probe corruption cases in Delhi - saying this order would apply only to officials and employees of the National Capital Territory of Delhi "subject to the provisions contained in Article 239AA of the Constitution".
A government official said the reference to the Constitution was to build the basis for moving out the ACB from the elected government.
"If police, public order and services come under the Lt-Governor's jurisdiction, how can the chief minister continue to be the head of the vigilance and anti-corruption teams," a senior central government official told Hindustan Times.
Kejriwal has promised to make Delhi India's first corruption-free state. He quit his highly sought-after government job in 2001 and embarked on a career as an anti-corruption campaigner. The taxman-turned-politician came to prominence as a close aide to social activist Anna Hazare, whose 2011 anti-graft drive galvanised the country.
The notification also gave a detailed explanation, pointing that "services" did not come under the jurisdiction of the elected government since it was a union territory.
Government sources said it was up to Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung to decide when he would issue orders to the chief secretary - who is also the government's vigilance chief - to route vigilance cases directly to him. "But the die has been cast," an official said.
A senior Delhi government official said the notification was being examined by constitutional experts to get a complete picture about its legal implications.
"We may decide to seek clarifications from the central government or approach the high court against the home ministry order," the official said.