HC notice to Delhi govt, others on plea by PWD officials challenging show cause notices over Kejriwal’s house renovation

 The Delhi High Court Thursday sought the response of the city government and others on a plea by six PWD officials challenging the show cause notices issued to them by the Directorate of Vigilance in connection with alleged “gross violations” of rules in the renovation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s official residence.

Justice Chandra Dhari Singh issued notices to the Delhi government through the Directorate of Vigilance, Special Secretary (Vigilance) and Public Works Department on the petition and granted them four weeks to file the counter affidavit in response to the petition.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on October 12.

The high court took on record the statements of senior advocate Rahul Mehra and Delhi government standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi, who were representing the Directorate of Vigilance and PWD, that no coercive steps shall be taken against the officials till the next date of hearing.

The court also noted that Special Secretary (Vigilance) YVVJ Rajasekhar, who was also present in the court during the hearing and accepted the notice, has serious objections to the statement made on behalf of the state.

Meanwhile, the court deleted the office of the Minister of PWD and the office of the chief minister as respondent parties to the petition.

The Directorate of Vigilance has issued show cause notices to six PWD officials in connection with alleged “gross violations” of rules in the renovation of Kejriwal’s official residence. The notices have been issued to the chief engineers concerned and other PWD officials asking them to explain their action.

The high court was hearing the petition by the six officials, represented by senior advocate Salman Khurshid, seeking quashing of the show cause notices issued to them on June 19 by the Special Secretary (Vigilance) on the grounds that they were issued by the top officer “without jurisdiction and competence, with premeditation and with closed mind in complete abuse of the process of law”.

It said the notices were the “outcome of a political tussle between the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and the ruling party in NCT of Delhi” and the petitioners have been made “scapegoats” in the matter.

“The malafide intentions and extraneous considerations behind the issue of the impugned notice is further clear from the fact that it has been leaked in the social media without waiting further reply (to) the same. It is clear from the language of the notice and the subsequent actions of the respondent no.1 (Directorate of Vigilance) and 2 (Special Secretary Vigilance) that the main target is the ruling party in NCT of Delhi,” it said.

The plea said the special secretary lacks legal authority to issue the show cause notices that are liable to be quashed on this ground alone.

“The impugned show cause notice hinders the right of the petitioner(s) to work and pursue his chosen occupation. Also, the impugned show cause notice in fact forces the petitioner to provide self-incriminating information and also harms the reputation of the petitioner.

“The impugned notice unfairly singled out and targeted the petitioner in spite of the fact that all the work was undertaken by the PWD officials for the official accommodation of the Chief Minister of GNCTD under the instructions of the concerned minister of PWD, GNCTD and not for any personal gain of the petitioner. The impugned notice smells of bias against the Petitioner,” the petition said.

It said the officials have not violated any rule, statute or office orders and the work undertaken by the petitioners with regard to the official bungalow of the chief minister was in full discharge and in due course of their official duties.

“The petitioner(s) followed the instructions of the Hon’ble Minister of PWD, GNCTD and have consistently performed his duties under his vigilant supervision. It will not be out of place to emphasise that the petitioner all along acted in good faith, with no default, lapse or negligence on his part,” it said.

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The show cause notices said PWD officials recorded on files of the department that as per requirement of the chief minister, changes have been made in the drawings of the interiors, which resulted in deviation in total work done and the amount sanctioned for it.

The old structure was demolished without a survey report, and no building plan was sanctioned for the new building constructed by the PWD, the notices said.

This residential complex of the chief minister has been constructed in violation of his entitlements, according to the notices.

He got constructed this complex which is much bigger than what is allowed to him as per norms prescribed under the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, it said.

The notices asked the PWD officials to explain their version “as all such acts have been done by them in gross violation of General Financial Rules, CPWD Manual and CVC guidelines,” the notices said.

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