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SC notice to Delhi finance secretary on plea of AAP govt alleging non-release of DJB funds

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NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, Apr 1 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to Delhi's Principal Secretary (Finance) on a plea of the AAP government alleging that the official was not releasing funds to the Delhi Jal Board despite being approved by the legislative assembly.

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"My civil servants do not listen to me," the counsel representing the Delhi government told a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and added that Rs 1,927 crore is yet to be released for the DJB.

Senior lawyer Abhishek Singhvi and advocate Shadan Farasat, appearing for the Delhi government, said the recent amendments in the services law have created a situation where the city bureaucrats do not listen to the ministers and are not complying with the orders.

"We will ask the Principal Secretary (Finance)," said the bench which also comprised Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.

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The bench did not issue notice to the office of Delhi Lieutenant Governor after taking note of the submissions of senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi that the LG has no role in the disbursal of funds by the finance department of the Delhi government.

A day before the plea was listed for hearing in the apex court, the finance secretary released Rs 760 crore on March 31, the Delhi government counsel said and added that the funds were utilised in clearing the pending bills.

The Delhi government said a total of Rs 4,578.15 crore has been received by the DJB for financial year 2023-24, inclusive of Rs 760 crore received on March 31 and Rs 1,927 crores was still outstanding. Rohatgi, appearing for the LG office, opposed the hearing in the top court saying that a similar plea was pending adjudication in the Delhi High Court.

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The Jal Board is a statutory authority and the LG has nothing to do with it, he said.

"He has no role to play. It is very strange. Petitioner is the Delhi government through the Minister of Water, who is also the Minister of Planning, also the Chairperson of the Jal Board. She holds all these posts and finance. The real respondent is her own secretary. I don't know what kind of petition this is," Rohatgi submitted.

Yet an amount of Rs 1,927 crore, approved by the legislative assembly, remains to be remitted to the DJB, Singhvi replied.

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Rohatgi said the LG was not holding any funds and the same had to be released by the Finance Department of the Delhi government.

"My Secretaries don't listen to me," Singhvi said.

"If your secretaries don't listen to you, what should I do," Rohatgi said.

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The bench has now posted the matter for hearing on April 5.

Earlier on March 20, the Arvind Kejriwal government had moved the top court over the issue in the latest run-in involving the bureaucracy and the AAP dispensation in Delhi.

The CJI had assured the AAP government that it can always order the release of funds meant for the DJB even after they lapse on March 31.

Singhvi had said that the budget was duly passed and yet the funds meant for the DJB were not being released and it would result in their lapse. PTI SJK PKS RPA

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