Shunglu panel slams Delhi government over illegal appointments

AAP

In a major set back to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ahead of the April 23 civic polls, a panel appointed by former Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung has accused the party-led Delhi government of nepotism in making appointments, including that of Health Minister Satyendar Jain’s daughter as an advisor for its flagship Mohalla Clinic project.

The three-member 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.

The report accessed by IANS 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 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 December 22.

Jung’s tenure was marked by a sharp escalation in tensions between his office, which reported to the union Home Ministry, and the AAP government of Kejriwal.

Jung had called over 400 files on decisions taken by the AAP government in Delhi for a review.

The committee also raised questions on the appointment of Nikunj Agarwal, a relative of Chief Minister 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 Lt Governor but the matter is not placed before the Lt 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.

“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 Lt. 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.