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The Delhi High Court today issued notice to the Government of NCT Delhi as well as the Speaker of the Delhi Assembly and the Lieutenant Governor, in a plea by Delhi Government Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash challenging the notice issued to him to appear before the Committee of Privileges.
The matter was initially heard by the Division Bench of Justices S Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, which observed that efforts should have been made to assuage the tempers on both sides. It further observed that such notices will add fuel to the fire.
“Why can’t there be mutual respect? He is your Chief Secretary. If you don’t respect him then how will things work? Is there no other way of calling him?”
The Division Bench then observed that the matter should be heard at length in accordance with the rules of the roster. Therefore, the matter was listed before the Single Judge Bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher.
The petition filed by Prakash states that the agenda of the meeting for which the notice is issued, was to consider a complaint received from the Question and Reference Committee against him, the Chief Executive Offìcer (DUSIB) and the Registrar of Co-operative Societies (Government of Delhi).
The petition states that,
“the Petitioner herein apprehends that the aforesaid Impugned Meeting Notice/Communication has been issued in a predetermined and mala fide manner as a retributive/retaliatory measure. The said Impugned Meeting Notice/Communication is a culmination of attempts made by the Respondents to arm twist the Petitioner in light of the various events which have unfolded in the recent past.”
It is stated in the petition that on the night of February 19, the Chief Secretary was called to attend a meeting with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to discuss the issue of difficulty in release of certain TV advertisements relating to the completion of three years of the AAP government in the capital.
It is further stated that when the petitioner reached the Chief Minister’s residence for the aforesaid meeting, he found that along with the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, a large number of MLAs were also present.
“The Petitioner was threatened, abused and physically assaulted. Two sitting MLAs being Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal physically assaulted him in front of the Chief Minister and other sitting MLAs.”
Appearing for Prakash, Senior Counsel Sidharth Luthra argued that Amanatullah Khan is one of the members of the committee which has issued notice for appearance. It was argued that petitioner cannot be expected to appear before the people whom he has accused of assaulting him.
Appearing for the Delhi Assembly, Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde stated that if the petitioner has an apprehension, then the same can be allayed. But such a situation cannot prevail where the Executive is not answerable to the Legislature.
The Counsel for the Government of Delhi also submitted that if the Executive refuses to cooperate, the government will not be able to get the information regarding administration.
After hearing preliminary arguments, Justice Shakdher asked whether the appearance of the petitioner for the meeting could be deferred for some time. The lawyers for the Assembly answered in the affirmative.
In addition to the Government of Delhi, the Speaker of the Assembly and the Lt. Governor, the Court also issued notice to the Committee of Privileges and the Question and Reference Committee, seeking their response to the plea within two weeks.
The matter will next be heard on April 11.
Image taken from here.