New Delhi: The Delhi Assembly Speaker told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday that Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash has no right under the law to challenge the enquiries conducted by House committees and the bureaucrat has levelled reckless, unfounded, mala fide and defamatory allegations on the members of the panels.
Prakash has challenged the privilege committee notice directing him to appear before it for skipping a meeting on 20 February, which was scheduled a day after he was allegedly assaulted by two AAP MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal, both of whom are now out on bail.
The Speaker, the Question and Reference committee and the privilege committee, in a joint affidavit, contended that the chief secretary's plea was not maintainable saying that notice was issued to him by the panel in accordance with law and powers vested with the committee.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher listed the matter for further hearing on 31 July.
The affidavit said that the legislative assembly was free to make its own rules of procedures for conducting its work in the assembly and by the panels and the chief secretary has "no right available under law to challenge the meetings and/or enquiries conducted by the committees of the legislative assembly".
It said the notice was only for the meeting and does not in any manner violate any fundamental right or breaches the provisions of Articles 19 or 21 of the bureaucrat and therefore, he was precluded from questioning it.
The assembly said the chief secretary's stand that the panel has no authority under the law to issue him a meeting notice was liable to be rejected out rightly and no interference was required from the court.
"The Constitution specifically deals with the doctrine of Separation. The transgression by one authority in the exclusive domain of the other authority is not permitted except where the judicial review is necessitated on the breach of any fundamental right of a party which is not at all the case here. It is well settled that the jurisdiction of the House over its own internal proceedings is exclusive and absolute and cannot be interfered with by the courts.
"It is to be presumed by the courts that the assembly discharges its functions in accordance with law and properly, cognisance in the matters arising within the walls of the assembly cannot be questioned before the courts in any manner whatsoever, except for certain exceptions...," the affidavit said.
It added that in this case nothing has been decided as of now and the meeting of Privilege Committee was yet to be undertaken and the chief secretary (CS) instead of appearing before the panel, approached the court on frivolous and non-existent grounds and alleged violation of rights.
It claimed that the petition was not only an abuse of process of law but was in a manner of putting impediments before the committee of the legislative assembly and it was not proper on his part.
"The petitioner (CS) has levelled reckless, unfounded, mala fide and defamatory allegations on the members of the committee. The committee has taken note of the said unfounded, reckless, false, mischievous, and mala fide allegations and shall proceed in accordance with law against him for violation of its privileges. The present writ petition is thus not maintainable and liable to be dismissed with exemplary cost," the assembly and its panel said.
It claimed that the panel was conducting inquiry since 2017 but the officers were cooperating on one or the other fallacious ground and there was "no vendetta or any malice with the committees either against the CS or any other person".
However, due to the alleged incident of February 19-20, the CS in connivance with the other officers had decided not to attend any meeting called by the ministers or committees, it alleged.
Regarding the other two IAS officers — JB Singh, Registrar of Cooperative Societies, and Shurbir Singh, chief executive officer DUSIB, who were also asked by the privilege committee to appear, the assembly said that they had submitted their reply stating that they cannot appear before the panel till they receive instructions from the CS.
"Thus, for one frivolous reason or the other the officers are not appearing before the committees and the same is nothing short of the contempt of the committees," it said, adding that the petition be dismissed.
The assembly denied the allegation that notice was a culmination of attempts made by the House and its panels to arm-twist the CS.
It said the assembly and its panels were taking these allegations against them "very seriously" and were calling upon him to withdraw the allegations forthwith and there was no basis for leveling such irresponsible allegations on the Speaker of the legislative assembly and the committees formed by him.
The court had earlier asked both the panels not to take any coercive action against CS for the time being.
The CS had also not attended the subsequent meetings on 21 and 23 February, following which the notice was issued on March 1.
In his plea, the chief secretary has submitted that he was “summoned to appear before the privilege committee for inquiry without being provided any copy of the complaint or opportunity to respond to the same”.
The court had sought responses from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Lieutenant Governor, the AAP government, office of the Delhi Assembly Speaker, its privilege committee and the Question and Reference committee.
The CS in his plea filed through advocate Vivek Chib has sought quashing of the notice issued to him by the committee. He had said the CS has a right to free and fair investigation and he has been asked to appear before the committee which has Khan as one of its member.
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Updated Date: Apr 11, 2018 22:29:10 IST