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The Delhi High court today directed an Assembly committee not to insist on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash's appearance before it, saying that the panel's move to issue a notice to the top bureaucrat seemed to be an attempt to circumvent the process of law.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher questioned the move of the Delhi Legislative Assembly's Question and Reference (Q&R) 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 to be an attempt to circumvent the process of law.
The chief secretary had yesterday moved the high court after he was served a notice by the Q&R Committee asking him to appear before it to examine issues relating to Delhi Nagrik Sahkari Bank Ltd.
"After giving a statement on March 5, the complainant (Q&R Committee) immediately issued notice to the chief secretary, asking him to appear before it today.
"What was the urgency of issuing the notice. Ask your client (committee) not to do this. Tell your client that it seems as if you are trying to circumvent the process of law. Wait for the outcome of the main petition pending in the high court," Justice Shakdher told the counsel for the committee.
The court suggested to the committee to withdraw the March 6 notice, in which it had asked the chief secretary to appear before it today at 3 PM.
"As far as the chief secretary is concerned, you withdraw this notice and do whatever has to be done," it said.
To this, advocate Manish Vashisht, appearing for the Assembly committee, said the panel cannot withdraw the notice as it has been issued against two other officers also.
However, the counsel assured the court that the panel will not ask for the personal appearance of the chief secretary, adding that 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 said the 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 was pending.
Senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for the lieutenant governor (LG), 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.
The chief secretary was earlier 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 on March 1. The Privileges Committee had issued the notice after it received a complaint against the chief secretary by the Q&R Committee.
With regard to the other two IAS officers -- J B Singh, registrar of Cooperative Societies, and Shurbir Singh, chief executive officer of the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), to whom the notice was also served by the Q&R Committee, the judge said he cannot pass any order in their regard as they have not approached the court and the panel can proceed against them.
Vashisht claimed that no malafide or malice can be attributed in the issuance of the notice.
The chief secretary and the other two officers were called for the meeting by the Q&R Committee to examine the issues in which reply from the Department of Cooperative Society was found to be uncomplete and unsatisfactory. The issues relate to Delhi Nagrik Sahkari Bank Ltd.
In the main petition challenging the notice issued by the Privileges Committee, the court had on March 5 sought response of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Privileges Committee, the Q & R Committee, the Delhi government and the LG and listed the matter for hearing on April 11.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)