Top bureaucrats sidelined, Jain upsets babus in city secretariat

Top bureaucrats sidelined, Jain upsets babus in city secretariat

There is a simmering discontent among a section of bureaucrats in the Home and Health departments of the Delhi government after the minister incharge Satyendar Jain issued directions to officers to move files directly to him, bypassing the secretaries in charge.

A senior Home Department official recently wrote to Jain pointing out that whatever he was trying to do by apparently bypassing Secretaries was not within the accepted interpretation of the Transaction of Business Rules and Allocation of Business Rules, 1993.

The latest of the controversial orders issued by Jain came on January 21 over the working of senior bureaucrats posted in the Health department.

While rearranging the file movement pattern in the department, Jain stipulated that the Principal Secretary/Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) would work “as authorised by the Minister in-charge”.

This order issued by Jain exposes the trust deficit among the AAP governement and top bureaucrats, who are posted and transferred by the Central government through Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.

The AAP government often voices its suspicion that some officials tend to create hurdles in implementing Cabinet decisions, thus, slowing down the performace of the Arvind Kejriwal government which is approaching its first anniversary in office on February 14.

Jain’s directions for the Health department follow his earlier orders this month related to work pattern in the Home department and the Industries department which is under his control.

Earlier, in a communication related to the functioning of the Home department, Jain described a Secretary as a limb of the government and gave the Minister primacy over the bureaucrat.

Officials in the Delhi Secretariat are questioning whether Jain is issuing controversial directions on the advice of the Cabinet or trying to create a fresh clash with Jung.
“All work-related orders issued by ministers should be shared with the LG, which is not happening,” said an official, who refused to be named.

The minister is trying to create a multi-tier system for file system, which in any case, is being followed in the departments, he said.

In the Home Department, Jain attempted to create four sections head by a deputy secretary. He also enlisted the matters whose files the deputy secretaries should be directly put up before him, without bringing the matter through the principal secretary.

Earlier, the AAP government’s actions in the Law department created a similar disquiet when former law Minister Kapil Mishra took on top law department officials by asking them to report to him.

Jain and Mishra have often claimed that the real head of departments are ministers of the elected government and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and not the LG. The courts and President Pranab Mukherjee, however, follow the Constitution which describes the LG of the Union Territory as the head of the capital city.