Delhi HC asks assembly panel not to insist on CS’s appearance before it

New Delhi: The Delhi High court today directed an assembly committee not to insist that Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash appear before it and said that the panel’s move to issue a notice to the top bureaucrat seemed an attempt to circumvent the process of law.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher questioned the move of Delhi Legislative Assembly’s Question and Reference Committee to issue a notice to the chief secretary despite making a statement before the court on March 5 that it will not proceed in the matter concerning the bureaucrat till further orders.
The court said the committee’s move to issue notice seemed an attempt to circumvent the process of law.

The Chief Secretary had yesterday moved the high court after he was served with a notice by the Privileges Committee of the Delhi Assembly asking him to appear before it over a complaint against him.

“After giving a statement on March 5, the complainant (Question and Reference Committee) immediately issued notice notice to the Chief Secretary, asking him to appear before it today.
“What was the urgency of issuing notice now. Ask your client (Committee) not to do this.

Tell your client that it is coming out as if you are trying to circumvent the process of law. Wait for the outcome of the main petition pending here,” the court told the counsel of the committee.

The court suggested the committee to withdraw the March 6 notice, in which it had asked the chief secretary to appear before it today at 3 PM.

To this advocate Manish Vashisht, appearing for the assembly committee, said they cannot withdraw the notice as it has been issued against two other officers also but assured the court that they will not ask for the personal appearance of the chief secretary and some other staff from his office can bring certain relevant documents for the scheduled meeting.

Senior advocate Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Chief Secretary, contended that it was a clear case of attempt to browbeat and intimidate him.

He further said issuance of notice amounts to overreaching the process of law and it was a contemptuous act as it should not have been done when the matter pending before the high court.
Senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for the Lieutenant Governor, said the counsel for the Assembly committee had made a statement before the court on March 5 and the panel should have stood by it.

He said it was a matter of propriety and he was shocked that the question and reference committee has issued a notice to the chief secretary.

The high court had yesterday said that Prakash was being harassed by AAP MLAs by “hook or crook” for pursuing his complaint of alleged assault during a meeting at the chief minister’s residence last month.

The chief secretary was served a notice by the Privileges Committee for skipping a meeting on February 20, which was scheduled a day after he was allegedly assaulted by two AAP MLAs — Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal. They both are in jail. He also did not attend the subsequent meetings on February 21 and 23, following which the notice was issued.