NEW DELHI -- Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung have launched into a battle over the appointment of senior bureaucrat Shakuntala Gamlin as the acting Chief Secretary of the Delhi Government.
While the government in a press release today called the L-G's decision to appoint Gamlin as "unconstitutional", claiming he had bypassed the Delhi government, Jung immediately responded saying he was authorised to do so.
The controversy over Gamlin's appointment today unfolded after she wrote a scathing letter to the L-G, claiming that she was "pressurised" by another senior bureaucrat at Kejriwal's office to bow out of the race for the post of chief secretary due to her alleged proximity to BSES discoms. Chief Secretary KK Sharma is currently on leave.
The government today sent out a press statement saying Gamlin was "perceived to be extremely close to electricity companies in Delhi and was lobbying for their interests within the Government." However, she was still appointed as acting Chief Secretary today by the L-G "in a completely unconstitutional manner," according to the press release.
Jung's office was quick to fire out a clarification, citing Article 239 AA of the Constitution of India, under which the L-G is the representative of State Authority in Delhi and "is competent to designate the officiating Chief Secretary in consultation with the Hon’ble Chief Minister."
Jung's office clarified that the file for the post was submitted to him on Wednesday evening and was cleared immediately, where he approved Gamlin's name as against the name proposed by Kejriwal. The reason given for the decision in favour of Gamlin was that she "was senior and has a proven track record." According to Jung, the name proposed by Kejriwal "did not figure in the list of names submitted by the Services Department and the concerned officer has not even been given a posting by the Delhi Government so far."
While Jung maintained that there was nothing on file that was submitted to him which indicated the government's reservations against Gamlin, he said that he regretted that "the name of a senior officer being brought in public domain in such a manner, that too a lady officer and one belonging to the North East."
Jung said that he was forced to order the Services Department to make Gamlin's appointment "since the office of the Chief Secretary cannot be left inordinately vacant" and that Kejriwal "had not cleared the file that had the Lt. Governor’s advise for over 36 hours."