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CM Kejriwal residence renovation: Division Bench asks PWD officials to approach Central Administrative Tribunal
New Delhi: The Division Bench of Delhi High Court in its order on Thursday asked six Public Works Department (PWD) officials who were issued show cause notice by the Directorate of Vigilance over alleged violation of rules during renovation of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's residence, to approach Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).
The bench of Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula passed the directions on a plea challenging single bench order protecting the six officials of the PWD from coercive action
The Division bench said, keeping in view of the judgement delivered in case of L Chandra Kumar, the petition itself is not maintainable and the writ petition before the single Judge stands disposed of with liberty to six PWD respondents to approach the CAT by filing an original application as provided under section 19 of the Administrative Tribunal Act.
The Division bench further made clear that it has not observed anything on merits, except the issue of maintainability of the writ petition in the Letter Patent Appeal (LPA).
Delhi High Court's single judge bench passed an interim order last week and stated that “no coercive steps” will be taken by any authority against six PWD officers in their plea challenging the notice.
The single Judge also took serious exception at the city authorities failure to exercise restraint and taking contravening steps despite an undertaking given by its counsel that no coercive steps would be taken against the officials
Earlier on August 17, 2023 the Delhi HC had issued notice to Government of NCT Delhi and Special Secretary (Vigilance) and PWD on a plea moved by six PWD officials challenging show cause issued to them by the Directorate of Vigilance.
The bench of Justice Chander Dhari Singh had issued notice to all respondents including Delhi government, PWD and Special Secretary (Vigilance).
Salman Khurshid and Atul Nanda, the senior counsels appearing on behalf of the petitioners, on merits of the matter, submitted that the petitioners before this Court are aggrieved of the show cause notice,adding that the principal contention is that the said notice has been issued by authority that is neither authorized nor competent to initiate disciplinary action against the petitioners.
It was submitted that the petitioners are officials of the PWD, whereas, the notice has been issued by the Special Secretary (Vigilance), and as such the petitioners are not amenable to the jurisdiction with respect to any disciplinary proceedings.
It was further submitted that the DoV lacks jurisdiction and authority to issue the show cause notice and hence, the notice itself is liable to be quashed,as per lawyers.
Lawyers further argued that the petitioners have made an interim reply dated August 7 to the notice in question, challenging the jurisdiction of the respondent to issue a notice qua disciplinary action against the petitioners, and contending that, as per part V, Rules 11, 12 and 13 of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965, the power to initiate any disciplinary action against the petitioners vests with either the President or an appointee of the President or the Central Vigilance Commission but not with the Directorate of Vigilance.
Meanwhile, the court agreed to delete the office of Minister of PWD and the office of Chief Minister as respondent parties to the petition.
Recently, the Directorate of Vigilance has issued show cause notices to PWD officials in connection with alleged "gross violations" of rules in the renovation of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's residence.