Considering the question of overlap of jurisdiction, the Delhi High Court has stayed a notice issued by the Committee of Privileges of Delhi Assembly to PWD Principal Secretary Ashwani Kumar over a report of misrepresentation of facts pertaining to de-silting of drains in the city before a panel (Committee of Petitions) formed on the orders of the high court.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Harishankar stayed the effect and operation of the notice issued to Ashwani Kumar, calling for his personal appearance before the Committee of Privileges on July 31.
Even as Kumar made an appearance before the committee and sought time to respond, the high court said the same does not bar it from deciding on the importance of the issue of delineation of powers.
The court also noted that the Committee of Petitions was constituted by the Lieutenant Governor on the orders of the high court itself and, therefore, Rule 201 of NCT of Delhi Rules bars the same from being presented to the House as it falls within the cognisance of the court.
“…the matter regarding de-silting of drains and all actions relating thereto is a matter under adjudication before this court in WP (C) No.1758/2005 (Lt Col BB Sharan vs MCD & Anr) and would be covered within the meaning of a matter under adjudication by a court of law in sub-rule (v) of Rule 93 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi,” the bench said.
“The question with regard to the legality and maintainability of the action by the Legislative Assembly is of paramount importance, given the overlap of the exercise of jurisdiction over matters which are admittedly pending consideration before this court.
It is noteworthy that Rule 201 of these rules also prescribes the scope of petitions. Sub-rule (iii)(a) and (b) clearly preclude submission of any petition, which falls inter alia within the cognisance of court of law as well as one for which remedy is available under the law. The complaint considered by the Committee of Petitions appears to be so barred as well,” the bench said.
The high court so ordered during the hearing on a petition moved by Ashwani Kumar, Principal Secretary, Public Works Department and of the Vigilance Commission, Department of Govt. of NCT of Delhi.
He had challenged the order issued to him by the Committee of Privileges seeking his personal appearance.
It is to be noted that pursuant to the high court order of May, 2017, in petition titled Lt Col BB Sharan (Retd) vs MCD & Anr, a coordination committee was constituted by the LG under the chair of Principal Secretary, PWD. The petition is pending before the court.
While the issues were being monitored by the court, a complaint was received by the Speaker of the Delhi Assembly, which was forwarded to the Committee on Petitions that inquired into the matter and called upon Col BB Sharan to participate in the inquiry. Several field visits were also made to ascertain the ground reality and verify the claims of several authorities.
A report was tabled in the Assembly on June 30 and accepted by way of passing a resolution that there was misrepresentation of facts on the work done before the committee.
The matter was referred to the Committee of Privileges and a notice was issued on July 28, calling upon Kumar to appear before the committee on July 31.