Shunglu panel report: Committee finds 'gross misuse of power' by Arvind Kejriwal government

Delhi's former lieutenant-governor Najeeb Jung had set up a three-member committee to examine the decisions taken by the Aam Admi Party Party (AAP) government and the committee has alleged "gross misuse of power" by the state government. The committee headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) V K Shunglu reviewed 404 files of the Arvind Kejriwal-led government and alleged that there were irregularities with various appointments.

 Shunglu panel report: Committee finds gross misuse of power by Arvind Kejriwal government

File image of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. AFP

The report questioned Soumya Jain's appointment as an adviser to Mission Director of the key health initiative that has won global praise for bringing free healthcare to the doorsteps of the city residents. "Soumya, who is an architect, was made advisor of the Delhi State Health Mission. However, she asserted her expertise with regard to mohalla clinics even though her CV does not support her claim. Second, the memorandum of the Association of State Health Society (Delhi) and rules and bylaws do not support such appointment," the panel said in its 101-page report. "The file contained no evidence of who approved her appointment.

"These events can only be explained by the fact that Soumya is the daughter of Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain."

The Shunglu Committee was set up by Jung in August last year after the Delhi High Court gave primacy to the Lt Governor in Delhi administrative affairs. The report was submitted to the LG's office in November last year, weeks before Jung resigned on 22 December. Jung had called over 400 files on decisions taken by the AAP government in Delhi for a review.

The report observes that the genesis of the conflict lay in an April 2015 order issued by Kejriwal to all the departments. It 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 the 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 chief minister in April 2015, it became the practice among ministers not to obtain the approval of the L-G 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 L-G's sanction and appointment of lawyers.  According to NDTV, Jung, who was engaged in a power battle by Kejriwal and his ministers for months, had said the Delhi chief minister could face "criminal charges" over irregularities found by the panel.

The committee also raised questions on the appointment of Nikunj Agarwal, a relative of Kejriwal's wife, as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the health minister.

"The appointment of Nikunj Agarwal as OSD to the health minister on co-terminus basis is a case of violation of recruitment procedure and lack of authority. Co-terminus appointment can be only made with the approval of the lieutenant-governor but the matter is not placed before the lieutenant-governor. The case does not seem fit for ex-post facto approval," the report said.

The committee also questioned a cabinet decision of allotting government-owned 206, Rouse Avenue bungalow to the AAP as its office.

"Since land is a 'reserved' subject, this decision should be deemed null and void," the report said, referring to land in Delhi not falling in the purview of the city government.

"The elected government doesn't have any power to deal with the subject of land, let alone allot it."

The report also questioned Kejriwal's decision to give additional charges of Secretary (Services) and Secretary (General Administration Department) to Rajendra Kumar who was then posted as secretary to chief minister.

"Rajendra Kumar was directed to hold additional charge of both the portfolios. This decision facilitated many subsequent actions which may not have been otherwise possible.

"It is a different matter that this order was ab-initio null and void but remained in force till Kumar was suspended in June 2016. The subject of services does not belong to the Delhi government," the report said.

The committee questioned the allotment of bungalows to Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal and MLA Akhilesh Pati Tripathi.

Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

"Maliwal was provided accommodation though in the ordinary course she was not entitled to it as per provisions of the DCW... a residuary provision, can be invoked in a case as an exception to the general rule but, only the Lt Governor can approve such an exception. However, in this case the lieutenant-governor's approval was not taken."

The Shunglu panel said in the case of Tripathi, it was decided to allot a Type-V furnished accommodation to him.

Meanwhile, Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken on Thursday demanded the resignation of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the Shunglu Committee report that has accused the Delhi government of nepotism in making appointments and abuse of power.

Maken demanded that an inquiry should be launched to probe the matter on the basis of the findings of the Shunglu Committee report.

"If Arvind Kejriwal has any conscience left then he should immediately resign from the chief minister's post," Maken said.

"An inquiry should be launched in this connection. Kejriwal has no right to be on the post during the investigation," he said.

Categorising the Shunglu panel report into three categories, Maken — who claimed that he got the report through an RTI — accused the Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of corruption, nepotism and misuse of public money for "unsanctioned" foreign tours of AAP leaders.

Maken also said that the Congress supporters and workers on Friday would stage a protest against AAP in all 272 wards of Delhi and make people aware about the AAP government's "wrongdoing" as highlighted in the Shunglu Committee report.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Apr 06, 2017 14:31:53 IST