In a new twist to the ongoing tussle between the Vigilance Department and the AAP-led Arvind Kejriwal Government, Delhi Minister Atishi has alleged that officials of the Vigilance Department are threatening, intimidating and harassing their counterparts in other departments to make them issue illegal orders.
Atishi, who holds charge of vigilance and services departments, directed officials to record their conversation if anyone tries to intimidate them.
In an order to all additional chief secretaries, principal secretaries and heads of all departments, Atishi said she has learnt that officials from the vigilance department are “threatening”, “intimidating and “harassing” officers from different departments to make them issue “illegal orders”, and directed officials to record phone calls in case they receive a threat on the phone.
Terming her allegations wild and without any records, officials of the vigilance department said it seems that such notes are being written by her to remain in headlines and to claim her status in Vigilance proceedings, which have been categorically denied by Lieutenant Governor in terms of provisions of sections 45C and 45H of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi Act.
“This also seems to be an attempt to pressurize officers of the Directorate of Vigilance, who are examining cases like Excise Scam, Sheeh Mahal Scam, etc.
“Earlier also she made such wild allegations against SDM offices, to which the Directorate of Vigilance asked her to provide such complaints so that the same can be processed to ensure corrupt officials are taken to task. However, despite passage of considerable time, she has failed to provide any such complaints, which raises doubts about the factual correctness of her notes,” officials said.
“In case the officers are called into the vigilance department and the threats are made in person, then the official who is being threatened or intimidated should record the conversation on their phone recorder,” read the order.
Atishi noted that these recordings are admissible as evidence in both disciplinary and legal proceedings.
“It has been brought to my notice that officers from the Vigilance Department are threatening, intimidating, and harassing officers from different departments into issuing illegal orders.
“Officers say that they get repeated phone calls from certain Vigilance Department officials, threatening them that if they don’t issue the said orders, then enquiries would be opened against them and they would be suspended,” read the order.
The Minister further stated that the objective of the Vigilance framework is to curb corruption through preventive and punitive mechanisms. “Contrary to this, it appears that certain Vigilance officers are misusing their authority and powers to pressurise officials to issue illegal orders, instead of working towards a clean and corruption-free administration.
“The Vigilance Manual (2021), issued by the Central Vigilance Commission, takes a strong new against harassment or victimisation of officials under the pretext of frivolous and vexatious Vigilance matters. It unambiguously states that Vigilance is intended to create an environment in which the honest can work fearlessly and the corrupt are punished promptly,” she said.
“Threatening and intimidating a civil servant is not only a violation of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, but is also an offence under inter alia Sections 189 and 503 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
“The Government of NCT of Delhi will not tolerate any such affront to the rule of law. However, action can be taken against such threats and intimidation only based on concrete evidence.
The tussle between the AAP Government and the Vigilance department officials are not new. In the past, the Vigilance department had alleged “sensitive files” were stolen from the office of a Special Secretary.
The Special Secretary (Vigilance) YVVJ Rajasekhar wrote to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Delhi Anti-Corruption Branch and the Lieutenant Governor’s (L-G) office, alleging that his office was broken into and “sensitive files” related to Excise Policy probe, renovation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence and those referred to central investigation agencies were “photocopied”.