Though the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has resorted to a massive campaign against the Centre for sacking nine advisors appointed by the Delhi government, it is yet to address the primary question that has arisen: Was the appointment of the nine advisors legal?
On Wednesday, Raghav Chadha, one of the nine sacked advisors, pulled quite the stunt by sending a demand draft of Rs 2.50 — a sum he claimed to have drawn as salary — to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Chadha also sent a rather sarcastic letter to accompany the demand draft, in which he wrote: “From 15 January, 2016, to 31 March, 2016, I was appointed as advisor to Deputy Chief Minister Shri Manish Sisodia to aid in preparation of the annual budget for the financial year 2016- 2017, owing to my qualification as a chartered accountant. I was offered an honorarium of Re 1 per month and over my time there, I earned a princely sum of Rs 2.50. In light of the order issued yesterday on the directions by the Ministry of Home Affairs declaring my appointment as void-ab-initio, I accept my retrospective sacking from the position held for a period of 75 days, two years ago”.
He also added, “While we cannot change what is in the past, please accept enclosed a demand draft of Rs 2.50 in favour of Ministry of Home Affairs that I earned in my capacity as advisor as a token of my remorse”.
Though the letter was filled with words about the commitment of the AAP towards the people, Chadha's passion for the cause and laced with sarcasm regarding the Centre’s decision to appoint surgeon Sambit Patra and erstwhile journalist Shazia Ilmi as directors of ONGC, it avoided addressing the basic questions related to Delhi’s governance: Was his appointment was legally justifiable? If yes, which provision of which law backed his appointment?
Significantly, the Centre’s decision to sack the nine advisors was legal. The order issued by the MHA stated categorically, “Services under the NCT of Delhi is a subject reserved for central government as per the Constitution Therefore, creation of posts by Delhi cabinet for accommodating these appointees is void ab-initio, being done by an agency not competent under the law to do so”. The MHA further added that these posts on which the appointees are officiating are not in the list of posts approved for the ministers and the chief minister. It further said no prior approval of the Centre had been taken for creation of these posts, which is a requirement as per law.
In indirect terms, the order accused the Delhi government of violating the law, a serious offence which puts Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal under further public scrutiny. The AAP's avoidance of the question speaks to its disregard for law and governance. The tendency to avoid the question was on full display in the statement issued by Sisodia in a press conference on Tuesday.
Rather than addressing the issue, Sisodia indulged in rhetoric. He claimed that four of the nine advisors aren't even working for the Delhi government and stated that another four are working at posts created by earlier governments. Sisodia also alleged the order was issued to sabotage Delhi education department’s schemes by ousting his advisor Atishi Marlena, who is looking after their implementation.
“She is an Oxford graduate and a Rhodes Scholar working with the Delhi education department at a salary of Re 1 month. She is the one looking after schemes such as Buniyaad to educate kids from the poorer section”, Sisodia said, continuing not to address the question.
The AAP’s reluctance to address the question of whether the appointments were legal reeks of a lack of commitment to governance, an issue which it cannot look away from, especially when it is in power. The Delhi government's appointment of nine advisors is not the only decision which has been rebuked by the Centre. Earlier, 14 laws passed by Delhi legislature were turned down by the Centre on procedural grounds. The recent decision to overturn the appointment of advisors should ring alarm bells for Arvind Kejriwal, who is busy choosing rhetoric over governance.
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Updated Date: Apr 18, 2018 21:49:13 IST