New Delhi, May 22 (IANS) The union government has backed Delhi Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung and issued a notification that makes it clear he has the power to post and transfer officials, a move that drew quick and sharp criticism from the combative AAP government on Friday.
The notification, issued on Thursday and made public on Friday, states that the Delhi government "will have no executive power" with regard to "Services" -- a reference to Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) officers.
The development comes a week after a very public power tussle erupted between Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung and the Arvind Kejriwal led AAP government in Delhi over posting and transfer of senior officers.
The notification also takes away the power of the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) to prosecute "officiers, employees and functionaries" of the central government.
Recently, the ACB had filed a case against a Delhi policeman for taking a bribe. This had led to a retailiation by the police which filed an FIR against unnamed officials for "kidnapping" a policemen. ACB comes under the Delhi government.
The union government notification came under attack by the AAP.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, a bureaucrat-turned-politician, said: "The BJP first lost Delhi elections. Today's notification shows BJP's nervousness about our anti-corruption efforts. The BJP again lost today."
The AAP government, which came to power in February after winning a stunning victory in the Delhi assembly election, has been asserting its administrative powers on posting and transfer of senior officers, particularly from the IAS.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia described the transfer and posting of the officers an "industry".
"This notification makes it clear how much the transfer-posting industry of Delhi is scared of us. It is a bid to save the transfer-posting industry," he added.
The spat between Jung and the Kejriwal government started over the appointment of senior bureaucrat Shakuntala Gamlin as the acting chief secretary on May 15. The chief minister had accused Gamlin of lobbying for power distribution companies in the national capital.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, however, defended the move and said that the central government had issued a "clarificatory notification" about powers of elected government and the Lt Governor.
Jaitley said during a press conference here: "The home ministry circular (has been issued) so that no dispute remains. The reserved powers of the central government are exercised through the Lt Governor. The clarificatory notification is about it so that there is no confusion."
"We do not want that offices are locked due to confusion," Jaitley said, referring to the AAP government which had locked the office of a senior officer apparently for following orders of LG for appointing Shakuntala Gamlin as acting chief secretary.
The finance minister said it was responsibility of the central government to issue a clarification so that Delhi government is able to fulfill its responsibilities properly.
The union government notification, which sparked a row, stresses that the IAS and IPS officers were administered by the central government.
"National Capital Territory of Delhi does not have its own state public services," it said.
It went on to say that 'Services' fall "outside the purview of Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT) and consequently the Government of NCT of Delhi will have no executive power in relation to the above and further that power in relation to the aforesaid subjects vests exclusively in the president or his delegate that is Lt. Governor of Delhi".