New Delhi: A full-blown war erupted on Friday between the Arvind Kejriwal-led government and Lt Governor Najeeb Jung over the appointment of a bureaucrat as the chief secretary in-charge who the former accused of lobbying for power distribution companies.
While the AAP government accused Jung of acting unconstitutionally by appointing Secretary (Services), Shakuntala Gamlin, as the chief secretary in-charge, Jung asserted that he was "competent" to do so.
Jung on Friday gave Gamlin the additional charge of chief secretary of Delhi since incumbent Chief Secretary K.K. Sharma is in the US for personal work.
Jung also expressed regret "that name of senior officer was being brought in public domain in such a manner, that too a lady officer and one belonging to the northeast".
The Delhi government said it had "certain reservations" about Gamlin's conduct and was hesitant to give her additional charge of the chief secretary as she "was perceived to be extremely close to electricity companies in Delhi and was lobbying for their interests".
"However, the lieutenant governor, in a completely unconstitutional manner appointed Shakuntala Gamlin, to this position," the government said in a statement .
"The lieutenant governor by-passed the elected government, the chief minister and deputy chief minister (who also acts as the minister in-charge of services department)," the statement said.
"The lieutenant governor does not have the extra-ordinary powers under the constitution to by-pass the elected government and issue instructions directly to the secretaries, whatever be the provocation," the statement said.
Responding to the charges, Jung said that under the constitution's article 239 AA, the lt governor is the representative of state authority in Delhi and "in appointment of chief secretary, he is competent to designate the officiating chief secretary in consultation with the chief minister".
Jung said he "approved the name of Gamlin as against the name proposed by the chief minister considering she was senior and has a proven track record".
"The name proposed by the chief minister did not figure in the list of names submitted by the services department and the concerned officer has not even been given a posting by the Delhi government so far.
"There was nothing on file submitted to the Lt Governor that indicated that the government had anything against Gamlin," a statement from Jung's office said.
"The lt governor had to order the services department to make the appointment since the office of the chief secretary cannot be left inordinately vacant and the chief minister had not cleared the file that had the Lt governor's advice for over 36 hours," it added.