Kejriwal strips Kapil Mishra of law portfolio

Last Updated 31 August 2015, 22:22 IST

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday took away the law portfolio from Kapil Mishra and gave it to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia who is now the third law minister in the government’s six-month rule.

Transport Minister Gopal Rai said the portfolio change was linked to Kejriwal’s desire to reduce Mishra’s workload so that he could focus on water issues. Sources, however, said Mishra was apparently punished for messing up the issue of notification on farm land rate revision.

“There was a virtual disruption of work in the Law Department after senior employees protested and complained about alleged threats issued to them by Mishra in July to follow the elected government’s directives,” said an official.

“Since senior officials in the Law Department are judicial officers, whose powers are given by the Delhi High Court, the issue snowballed and needed behind-door manoeuvres to normalise the situation,” said an official.

Mishra was in the forefront of a verbal attack on the Law Department officials who advised the government that the notification over enhancement of farm land rates could not be issued without Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung’s consent.

A recent move of Mishra to post a bureaucrat as deputy secretary in the Law Department – a post hitherto held by a judicial officer – also added to the problems, sources said.
Rai, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event, claimed the change in Mishra’s portfolio was a routine affair.

“The decision to give additional charge of the Law Ministry to Sisodia was taken in a meeting presided over by the chief minister today (Monday),” he said. “The government is working according to its priority....the Delhi Jal Board is a big department and the change in portfolio seems aimed at helping Mishra focus more on water issues,” said Rai.

Earlier, tainted AAP legislator Jitender Singh Tomar was stripped of his law portfolio after a controversy over his alleged forged academic documents. Kapil Mishra was given the charge of the department in June.

Law will be the 12th department to be handled by Sisodia who has crucial portfolios like finance, education and urban development, among others.

Sources said Mishra had antagonised senior law department officials, who are mostly judicial officers answerable to the high court. Mishra used objectionable language against senior officials and threatened them with dire consequences after they refused to toe his line of issuing the land rate notification without consulting Jung.

(Published 31 August 2015, 17:55 IST)

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