Shunglu Panel’s indictment of AAP government, says ‘gross abuse of power’

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The Shunglu Panel has made shocking indictment of Delhi’s AAP-led government by highlighting what it termed a ‘gross abuse of power’ since the Arvind Kejriwal became the chief minister in February 2015.

Shunglu Panel

In order to ensure the Lt Governor does not have “prior” information about its Cabinet agenda, the Delhi government took over 150 decisions by circumventing “fundamental provisions” of rules, the Shunglu panel said

The panel said that there were significant number of files where the Cabinet note was prepared in ministers’ personal section and signed by the minister concerned without the matter being taken up for consultation or circulation.

According to report, as per the Transaction of Business (TBR) rules, any cabinet agenda must be circulated at least two days before its meeting and in exceptional circumstances, with the approval of Chief Minister, this period can be curtailed.

The panel, formed by ex-Lt Governor Najeeb Jung to examine whether various decisions of the AAP government were in compliance of the rules, said from February 2015 to September 2016, over 300 decisions were taken by the Council of ministers. Of these, more than half were “tabled” items.

“The Committee has been at a loss to understand the term tabled item. In practice, it has meant that the Council has taken up items and the decision to take them up is taken possibly at the commencement of the Council meeting.

“This is not only against Rule 13 (3) of Transaction of Business Rules, but also ensured that the Lt Governor had no prior notice of the agenda of the Council meeting,” the report said.

The decision not to circulate and to “table” the item seems to have been “whimsical” in most of the cases, it added.

Shunglu Committee also raised question over allotment of Type-V quarter to a MLA Akhileshpati Tripathi for the purpose of accommodation purpose. The probe panel then also went on to allege that the DCW chief Swati Maliwal had been provided accommodation despite not being entitled for this privilege.

The panel objected to the appointment of Nikunj Agarwal, a relative of CM Kejriwal, as the OSD to the health minister Delhi.

The Shunglu committee reviewed 404 files of the Delhi government and qestioned the appointment of Parija P as member administration in Municipal Taxation Tribunal for a full term by Deputy Chief Minister for the above post.

In its report leaked in the media yesterday, the panel has pointed out “gross abuse of power” by the Arvind Kejriwal government.

The committee has flagged decisions including the allotment of land to ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for its party office, appointment of Minister Satyendar Jain’s daughter as advisor to “mission director” of Delhi State Health Mission and a number of purported party functionaries as “advisors”.

The report observes that the genesis of the conflict lay in an April 2015 order issued by Chief Minister Kejriwal to all the departments.

It had directed officers to take decisions without consulting the Lt Governor on all subjects that have been transferred to the Delhi Assembly under Article 239AA(3)a of the Indian Constitution.

The panel said the decision to allot land to the AAP to build a party office should be considered “null and void” and also questioned the allotment of residence to DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal.

The report which runs into over 100 pages deals with decisions, including appointment of certain individuals as advisors to the government, taken by Kejriwal and his Cabinet where it had no authority do so and without the LG’s concurrence.

“In pursuance of the directions of the CM in April 2015, it became the practice among ministers not to obtain the approval of the LG and to provide approval at their level,” it said.

Among other issues, the report raised questions on the government posting officers to the Anti-Corruption Branch, its decisions on transfer and appointments of officers, foreign travel undertaken by ministers without the LG’s sanction and appointment of lawyers.

Before demitting the LG Office, Jung had stated that Kejriwal may face “criminal charges” over irregularities found by the panel.

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