The Delhi High Court Thursday granted six PWD officials the liberty to approach the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) against issuance of show cause notices to them over alleged gross violation of rules in the renovation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's official residence.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula disposed of an appeal by the Delhi government's Directorate of Vigilance and Special Secretary (Vigilance) challenging a single judge bench order of no coercive action against the PWD officials who were issued show cause notices.
The Directorate of Vigilance, in its appeal, sought setting aside of a September 15 interim order of a single judge of the high court which said no coercive steps shall be taken by any authority against the petitioner PWD officials till October 12.
The single judge had passed the interim order after taking serious exception to the city authorities failing to exercise restraint and taking contravening steps despite an undertaking given by its counsel that no coercive steps will be taken against the officials. Senior advocate Rahul Mehra and Delhi government standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi had given the undertaking before the single judge.
However, the Directorate of Vigilance, in its appeal filed through advocates Yoginder Handoo and Mananjay Mishra, contended the assurance was without authorisation by the competent authority.
The Directorate of Vigilance had issued show cause notices to six PWD officials over alleged violation of rules in the renovation of Kejriwal's official residence. The notices issued to the chief engineers concerned and other PWD officials asked them to explain their actions.
The single judge of the high court had passed the order shielding the six Public Works Department (PWD) officials from coercive action while hearing their petition, filed through senior advocate Mohit Mathur, seeking quashing of the show cause notices issued to them on June 19 by the Special Secretary (Vigilance) on the ground 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" in which the petitioners were made "scapegoats".
The PWD officials said in their petition they did not violate any rule, statute or office order and the work undertaken with regard to the chief minister's official bungalow was in full discharge and in due course of their official duties.
"The petitioner(s) followed the instructions of the minister of PWD, GNCTD (Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi) 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," their petition said.
The show cause notices to the officials, however, said 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 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".
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