New Delhi: The Delhi Assembly passed a resolution on Tuesday for a probe by the privileges committee into the alleged role of Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar, Finance Secretary A C Verma, and other officials in causing a delay in the presentation of the budget.
AAP leaders alleged that the officers sat on a communication from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) raising certain queries on the budget proposals and did not inform the minister concerned, leading to a delay in the presentation of the budget for 2023-24, originally scheduled for Tuesday.
The motion seeking a probe was tabled by AAP MLA Sanjiv Jha.
”Chief secretary, finance secretary and other officials in nexus with the office of the lieutenant governor (LG) and the Centre suppressed an important communication of MHA regarding the budget. I recommend a probe by the privileges committee into their role in it causing delay in tabling of the budget in the House,” Jha said.
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Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goyal called for a voice vote and thereafter the matter was referred to the privileges committee.
Finance Minister Kailash Gehlot told the Assembly that he learnt around 2 pm on Monday that the MHA had raised some queries.
”I asked the chief secretary and the finance secretary several times and finally around 6 pm, I saw the file and it was sent to the LG after the chief minister’s approval,” Gahlot said.
He said he was unaware of the MHA’s communication which had arrived at 5:30 pm on March 17 through e-mail. Gahlot said the chief secretary should have immediately brought the objection to the notice of the finance minister and the Delhi government.
He added that nothing can be more unconstitutional and demanded a probe into the matter.
Sources in the MHA had said earlier that the ministry sought clarifications from the AAP government as its budget proposals had high allocation for advertisement and relatively low funding for infrastructure and other development initiatives.
Speaking on the motion, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that officials should be held accountable for the delay.
”LG does not have the right to write on the file. What is the role of those who have been elected if only LG has to run the government? MHA orders (officials) to sit on the budget (communication) for three days. On March 20, the officials inform that the query has come. Action should be taken against the officials,” Kejriwal said.
Earlier in the day, Gahlot said the budget file has been resent to the MHA for approval.
The MHA approved it and conveyed it to the AAP dispensation, sources in the lieutenant governor’s office said.