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AAP’s Saurabh Bharadwaj, who had authorised midnight raid in dept, stripped of Services and Vigilance portfolios after Delhi Services Bill passed in RS

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal wrote to the LG asking for the removal of Saurabh Bharadwaj from the Services and Vigilance department. Atishi Marlena, who already has most number of portfolios under her name, has been allotted the responsibility.

On the 8th of August, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has sent a file to LG Vinai Kumar Saxena asking him to remove Saurabh Bharadwaj from the Services and Vigilance department. In this hurried Cabinet reshuffle, Delhi CM has transferred these portfolios to Atishi Marlena, who already had the most number of portfolios under her name. Along with Finance, Education, and PWD, Atishi is now responsible for a total 14 number of portfolios.

The move comes a day after the Rajya Sabha passed the Delhi Services Bill 2023 which off late had become a matter of prestige and a make-or-break kind of issue for the opposition alliance, I.N.D.I.A.   

While responding to the Parliamentary debate on the Delhi Services Bill, Union Home Minister Amit Shah repeatedly raked up the issue that on the behest of then Services and Vigilance Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj, crucial files linked with corruption cases against the Delhi government and the ruling Aam Aadmi Party were tampered with, stolen or transferred in a midnight ‘heist’. 

Stating the reasons why AAP is adamant to oppose the bill, Shah claimed that the Kejriwal government had a peculiar interest in the transfer postings in the vigilance department, not any other department. He added that the Kejriwal government transferred specific officers to the vigilance department as it had files related to the liquor scam that had surfaced in the Union Territory. 

Additionally, the vigilance department has also been probing various scams including the renovation of the Chief Minister’s residence, colloquially referred to as ‘SheeshMahal’ and the file related to the illegal gathering of information through intelligence apparatus like Feedback Unit (FBU) among other cases of irregularities. 

Home Minister pointed out that the concerned Minister Bhardwaj asked officers not to report to Special Secretary (Vigilance). 

Shah also highlighted that Services Secretary was transferred within a few hours after the Supreme Court had given an in-principle verdict in favour of the Government of Delhi, however, the apex court had asked the regular bench to further hear the case and announce the verdict. Interestingly, the AAP started exercising the rights of transfer posting even before the verdict could have come into force, and the vigilance department was the first casualty.

A bombshell letter, reinforcing the allegations of foul play with files at the Vigilance department

Earlier, in May, soon after the SC decision, Special Secretary Vigilance YVVJ Rajasekhar was divested of his duties by Services Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj. Following the move, he wrote a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Delhi Anti-Corruption Branch, and the L-G office. 

The letter stated that in the wee hours of the night, his office was broken into, and sensitive files related to the excise policy probe, renovation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence, and those referred to central investigation agencies were photocopied. 

The letter added that Room no. 403, Special Secretary (Vigilance) at Delhi Sectt, was broken into on the intervening night of 15th and 16th May at 3:00 AM. 

In the letter, the officer also expressed apprehensions that his office might have been bugged. Rajashekhar stated that his letter was in continuation of his previous report which highlighted how the Minister (Vigilance), Saurabh Bharadwaj, had instructed Assistant Directors not to submit the files related to the corruption cases to the vigilance officer.

To read more about the content of the letter and details about the specific files in question, click here.  

The Vigilance officer pointed out that it is not the norm to transfer files to the Minister under any circumstances due to the ‘principle of arm’s length’, so the Minister maintains a distance from the investigation by the vigilance officer. However, this principle seems to have been clearly breached.

While no official reason has been given for stripping these portfolios from Saurabh Bhardwaj, the aforementioned reasons are seen in conjunction with his ouster.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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