The ongoing tussle between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung reached Rashtrapati Bhavan as both of them met President Pranab Mukherjee separately on Tuesday and briefed him about the stand-off over the appointment of top bureaucrats.
Jung, who was the first to meet the president, later also called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss the matter.
In the evening, Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia met the president. The deputy chief minister has called a meeting of all the secretaries of Delhi at 10 am on Wednesday, ANI reported.
"We had a good meeting with the President. We have apprised him of recent developments, he heard the matter carefully. We told the President that LG sir is trying to run the Delhi Govt on his own terms. We also told the President that LG sir is directly issuing instructions to officers bypassing CM and Council of Ministers," Sisodia told reporters after the meeting.
"We also told the president that despite of our disapproval, he (LG) insisted on appointment of acting chief secretary. We later approved it and now Shakuntalaji working as acting chief secretary, but now he is (LG) interfering in appointment of secretaries. The president has assured us that he will look into the matter," Sisodia said.
AAP govt bypasses LG to appoint Arvind Ray
Meanwhile, amid the stand-off, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government reportedly removed Anindo Majumdar as secretary, general administration department, for signing Jung's order to appoint Shakuntala Gamlin as the acting Chief Secretary and replaced him with IAS officer Arvind Ray.
According to reports, given the escalating feud between Kejriwal and Jung, at least 20 top bureaucrats have sought to be transferred out of Delhi.
Legal experts stand by Delhi govt
The AAP government has also been consulting legal experts, who have backed the local regime in the controversy over key appointments.
"There is no provision granting the LG the power to act at his own discretion in the matter of appointment of chief secretary," former additional solicitor general Indira Jaising reportedly said.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer Rajeev Dhawan also sided with Kejriwal and accused Jung of creating a "crisis" in the state.
Kejriwal to vet Jung's orders
Earlier on Monday Kejriwal had ordered the state government officials to ensure that all the LG's orders were vetted by him. He asked the bureaucrats to apprise him or a minister in his government of any communication or orders, oral or written, passed by Jung.
"It is hereby ordered that any direction or order, whether oral or written, received from Honorable LG or his office to the Chief Secretary or any administrative Secretary, shall first be submitted by the concerned administrative Secretary/Chief Secretary on the file to the Minister in charge and the Chief Minister for a decision," the circular issued by the government said.
Accusing the lieutenant governor of bypassing rules, the AAP government cited the Transaction of Business Rule to state that the concerned minister must be apprised for any decision pertaining to his department.
"As you are aware the Chief Secretary and the Secretary of the department are severally responsible for the careful observance of the TBR under rule 57. Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary and heads of department are directed to strictly adhere to this order," the circular further said.
Kejriwal's fresh order comes just days after he had asked all his officials to "not bother" the lieutenant governor and instead direct files through his office.
It follows high drama after AAP members locked the office of Principal Secretary (Services) Anindo Mazumdar on Monday over the heated dispute over the appointment of Gamlin as the acting Chief Secretary of Delhi.
Kejriwal's animosity with Jung dates back to the pre-election battle between the AAP and the Bharatiya Janata Party, with the former accusing the LG of "batting for the BJP".