Govt says CM, Ministers to approve transfer of officers

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government said on Wednesday evening that the power to transfer and post officers, including of the IAS AGMUT cadre, would be given to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Cabinet, taking it away from Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal and top bureaucrats.

Sources in the bureaucracy, however, said that the Services Department had informed the minister-in-charge, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, that it would not be able to issue the order.

Bone of contention

Services had been the bone of contention between the AAP government and the Centre, after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 2015 added it to the list of reserved subjects, under the L-G’s control.

Hours after the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench gave its judgment in the case regarding powers of the elected government vis-a-vis the L-G, Mr. Sisodia said that one power — to transfer officers — would be given to the political executive.

“As Minister of Services, I have issued an order that the Chief Minister will be the approving authority for transfers of IAS, DANICS, other all-India Services and equivalent officers of Central civil services or provincial civil services,” Mr. Sisodia said. The power to transfer these officers had been with the L-G.

As the Deputy Chief Minister, he said, he would have the authority to transfer grade-I and grade-II Delhi Administrative Subordinate Services (DASS) officials, principal private secretaries and private secretaries, for which the Chief Secretary had been responsible.

Similarly, for grade-III and grade-IV DASS officials and grade-II and grade-III steno cadre officials, the Services Minister will be responsible, instead of the Services Secretary. For other staff of cadre or ex-cadre of a department, the minister-in-charge of the respective departments will be responsible, instead of the heads of department.

This, Mr. Sisodia, said would happen “with immediate effect”. Repeated requests for comment were not answered by Raj Niwas.

Matter pending hearing

However, bureaucrats with knowledge of the issue said that the Services Department would not be able to issue such an order as the Supreme Court judgment did not set aside the MHA’s May 21, 2015, notification. The matter will be heard by an “appropriate Bench”, the apex court judgment said.

A senior official said that under Section 49 of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, the L-G and the Council of Ministers had to comply with directions of the President, and that the MHA notification was in the name of the President.

The MHA’s “Notification regarding administration of UTs” on May 21, 2015, read: “Subject to his control and further orders, the Lieutenant-Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi shall in respect of matters pertaining to Public Order, Police, Land and Services… exercise powers and discharge the functions of the Central Government.”

The notification left matters pertaining to “services” and the transfer and posting of bureaucrats to be settled by the L-G, allowing him discretionary power to seek the opinion of the Chief Minister as and when the former deemed it fit.

The notification said that the Union Territories cadre, consisting of IAS and IPS, was common to Union Territories and the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Goa.

It added that since Delhi did not have its own State public service, the matter of “services” fell in the same category as the all-India services, which were controlled by the MHA.

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