15 Sep 2023 1:55 PM GMT
The Delhi High Court on Friday ordered that no coercive steps be taken by any authority against six PWD officials who have challenged the show cause notices issued to them by the Delhi Government’s Vigilance department over alleged gross violations of rules in the renovation work undertaken at the official residence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.Justice Chandra Dhari Singh observed...
The Delhi High Court on Friday ordered that no coercive steps be taken by any authority against six PWD officials who have challenged the show cause notices issued to them by the Delhi Government’s Vigilance department over alleged gross violations of rules in the renovation work undertaken at the official residence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Justice Chandra Dhari Singh observed that despite an undertaking given to the court by the city authorities that no coercive steps shall be taken against the officials, yet, steps were taken against them in the “teeth of the judicial order.”
“Upon considering the entirety of the matter including the submissions made before this Court today, this Court is inclined to pass an interim order in favour of the petitioners. Accordingly, no coercive steps shall be taken by any authority against the petitioners till the next date of hearing,” the court said.
On August 17, the court had issued notice on the officials’ plea and sought response of the Delhi Government through Director of Vigilance, Special Secretary of Vigilance and Public Works Department.
The PWD and Delhi Government’s Director of Vigilance had then, on instructions, submitted that no coercive steps shall be taken against the PWD officials till October 12.
A fresh application was moved by the PWD officials seeking to restrain the Delhi Government or its National Capital Civil Services Authority from ordering departmental or criminal action against them in contravention to the assurance given to the court.
Senior Advocate Mohit Mathur representing the PWD officials submitted that despite the undertaking, some of the petitioners were transferred to Guwahati and disciplinary proceedings were also initiated against them.
Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra and Advocate Santosh Tripathi appearing for the Delhi Government submitted that no coercive steps have been taken by the authorities against any petitioner in violation of the undertaking.
“The contentions made by learned senior counsel for the petitioners, raises serious concerns for this Court that an undertaking given by the Standing Counsel has been overlooked and disregarded. In case, the State was willing to take any coercive steps against the petitioners they should have moved an appropriate application seeking leave of the Court for the same,” the court observed while passing the interim order in favour of the PWD officials.
It is the case of the PWD officials that the show cause notices dated June 19 have been issued by the Vigilance department which is neither authorized nor competent to initiate the disciplinary action.
They contend that the officials, being PWD officers, were not amenable to the jurisdiction of the Vigilance department with respect to any disciplinary proceedings.
In their plea, the PWD officials have submitted that the impugned show cause notices is an outcome of the “political tussle” between the Lt. Governor and the ruling Aam Aadmi Party and that they have been made scapegoat in the matter.
“It is pertinent to mention here that the Respondent no. 2 was divested of all his duties by the Delhi Vigilance Minister in the month of May 2023 on the charges of corruption and extortion. However, after the Ordinance was passed establishing the National Capital Civil Services Authority, the Respondent No. 2 was reinstated vide order dated 22.05.2023 and thereafter on 19.06.2023, the impugned show cause notice has been issued by the respondent no. 2. The above itself proves that the impugned notice has been issued in furtherance of political witch hunt and the Petitioner has been made the scapegoat,” the plea states.
It further adds that the impugned notices “unfairly singled out and targeted” the PWD officials inspite of the fact that all the work was undertaken by them for the official residence of the Chief Minister under the instructions of the concerned PWD minister and not for their personal gain.
“The impugned notice smells of bias against the Petitioner. The Petitioner has not violated any rule, statute or office orders. The work undertaken by the Petitioner with regard to the official bunglow of the CM of GNCTD was in full discharge and in due course of his official duties. The Petitioner followed the instructions of the Hon'ble Minister of PWD, GNCTD and have consistently performed his duties under his vigilant supervision,” the plea reads.
Tiitle: Ashok Kumar Rajdev & Ors. v. Government of NCT of Delhi Through Directorate of Vigilance & Ors.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 836
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