Delhi cabinet minister Atishi alleged that vigilance officials are "threatening" their counterparts in other departments to make them issue "illegal orders" and directed officials to record their conversation if anyone tries to intimidate them, amid an accruing discord between a section of bureaucracy and the government.
Sources in the vigilance department dismissed the allegations and called them pressure tactics.
Atishi, who holds charge of vigilance and services departments, said this in an order issued on Monday. She also said that strictest possible action - both disciplinary and legal - shall be taken against those officers of Vigilance Department who are found to be threatening or intimidating or harassing other officers.
The minister 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".
"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 inquiries would be opened against them and they would be suspended," read the order.
In view of this, she directed officials to record phone calls in case they receive a threat on the phone and share the recording with her.
"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.
The minister stressed that the objective of the vigilance framework is to ensure "ethical organizations, systems and procedures of the government, and to curb corruption through preventive and punitive mechanisms".
"Contrary to this, it appears that certain Vigilance officers are misusing their authority and powers to pressurize 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 view against harassment or victimization 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 the Indian Penal Code (IPC), she said.
"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," she added.
These recordings are admissible as evidence in both disciplinary and legal proceedings.
The sources said the minister was making "wild allegations", without any records.
"This also seems to be an attempt to pressurise officers of Directorate of Vigilance, who are examining cases like Excise Scam, Sheesh Mahal Scam, etc," a source said.
-With PTI Input