Centre’s ordinance does not talk about allocation of work in the department, says Services Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj, asserts he remains the ‘competent authority’ as per the SC’s May 11 order.

The ongoing tussle between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Centre over the Services Department got further complicated on Tuesday, with Delhi Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj rejecting an order to reinstate Special Secretary (Vigilance) Y.V.V.J. Rajasekhar.

In an office memorandum, Mr. Bharadwaj, who holds the portfolios of Services and Vigilance, asserted that he was the competent authority in the matter and Mr. Rajasekhar, Special Secretary in Vigilance and Services Departments, remained divested of all his duties.

Mr. Rajasekhar, who was divested of all his work by Mr. Bharadwaj on May 13 after the Supreme Court’s May 11 judgment handing over the reins of Services to the elected government, was reinstated on Monday through an order from the office of the Secretary (Vigilance).

Monday’s order had said Mr. Rajasekhar will resume work “as usual” and directed the Vigilance Department officials “to maintain the status as on May 10 with respect to workflow”. This was the first major Services-related order since the Centre wrested back control of the department through an ordinance on May 19.

Mr. Bharadwaj, however, said the Centre’s ordinance does not talk about the allocation of work within the department and, as per the Supreme Court’s May 11 order, he remains the “competent authority for all aspects of work within the department”.

‘Invalid order’

Saying that Monday’s order was not approved by him, the AAP Minister termed it “unauthorised” and declared it “invalid and illegal”.

“No action should be taken as a result of this order,” he wrote, instituting an inquiry into it.

‘Take away files’

Reiterating his May 13 order for “immediate compliance”, Mr. Bharadwaj said all work assigned to Mr. Rajasekhar in the Services Department will be handled by Special Secretary-II (Services) Kinny Singh, who will directly report to the Secretary.

All files with Mr. Rajasekhar should also be handed over to Ms. Singh, the Minister wrote.

“The work assigned to Mr. Rajasekhar in the Vigilance Department is to be distributed amongst ADs [Assistant Directors]. The ADs would put up the files directly to the Secretary (Vigilance) and will report to the Services Secretary,” the memorandum read, adding that the files from Mr. Rajasekhar should be handed over to the Vigilance Secretary and be kept safe in his custody.

Mr. Rajasekhar, apart from looking into the allegations of irregularities related to the renovation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s official residence, was also probing other cases, including the alleged irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy, the ‘feedback unit’ case and the alleged violation in the publishing of government advertisements.

Soon after Monday’s order, Mr. Rajasekhar had directed the Vigilance Department officials to prepare an inventory of the files and records in his office as well as in the confidential section.

Mr. Rajasekhar had earlier alleged that his office was searched on the intervening night of May 15-16, and that some files or records “might have been destroyed” during the alleged search.

His office was sealed on May 17. The order reinstating him on Monday had also directed the de-sealing of his office.

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