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Delhi HC Directs PWD Officials to Approach Central Administrative Tribunal Regarding CM Residence Renovation Violations

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Published on: 23 September 2023 at 10:30 IST

The Delhi High Court has instructed six PWD officials to challenge show cause notices they received from the Delhi Government’s Vigilance department over alleged rule violations in the renovation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s official residence by approaching the Central Administrative Tribunal.

The division bench cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India, deeming the petitions filed by the PWD officials before a single judge as not maintainable.

The bench disposed of an appeal by the Delhi Government, which had objected to the writ petition, asserting that the PWD officials, as Central Government employees, should contest disciplinary actions through the Central Administrative Tribunal.

While disposing of the case, the bench emphasized that even when questioning the validity of statutory legislation, litigants cannot directly approach the High Courts without respecting the jurisdiction of the relevant Tribunal.

The court clarified that its decision pertained only to the maintainability of the Delhi Government’s appeal and did not address the case’s merits.

Background and Proceedings before Judge:

On August 17, the court had issued a notice regarding the officials’ plea and requested a response from the Delhi Government through the Director of Vigilance, Special Secretary of Vigilance, and Public Works Department. Following this, the PWD and the Delhi Government’s Director of Vigilance, based on instructions, assured that no coercive measures would be taken against the PWD officials until October 12.

Subsequently, the PWD officials submitted a new application seeking to prevent the Delhi Government or its National Capital Civil Services Authority from initiating departmental or criminal actions against them, contrary to the court’s assurance. They argued that the Vigilance department, which issued the show cause notices on June 19, lacked the authority and competence to initiate disciplinary proceedings against them. The officials contended that they, as PWD officers, were not subject to the Vigilance department’s jurisdiction regarding disciplinary matters.

In their plea, the PWD officials asserted that the show cause notices were a result of the “political tussle” between the Lt. Governor and the ruling Aam Aadmi Party. They claimed to have been unfairly targeted despite having undertaken all work for the Chief Minister’s official residence under the PWD minister’s instructions, without personal gain. They argued that the notices exhibited bias and that they had not violated any rules, statutes, or office orders. The officials asserted that they had diligently performed their duties under the vigilant supervision of the Minister of PWD, GNCTD.

Case Title: GOVERNMENT OF NCT OF DELHI & ANR. v. SH. ASHOK KUMAR RAJDEV & ORS.