Ambulance sent ‘for probe by municipal secretary’ after it fails to appear before assembly panel

New Delhi: The AAP-BJP tussle inside the MCD house has reached its municipal secretary’s doorstep, with the assembly committee on petitions – headed by an AAP MLA – meeting with a medical team at Bhagwan Singh’s residence around 9.30 am. Ambulance is being sent. on Tuesday.

A senior MCD official told The Hindu that an ambulance was sent to check on Mr Singh after he failed to appear before the committee citing health reasons.

“But he did not allow the doctors to examine him on Tuesday and today [Thursday] also he did not appear before the committee. His reporting officer told the committee under oath that he has not submitted any medical certificate so far,” said a member of the committee. Asked why a medical team was sent, the member said the committee was “concerned” about Mr Singh’s health. “But he did not allow the doctors to examine him. If someone is ill, why would they deny medical help?”

The AAP had earlier accused Mr Singh of favoring the BJP during the February 24 internal elections for six MCD standing committee members, which was postponed following violent clashes between AAP and BJP councillors.

The committee had summoned Mr Singh in connection with questions relating to 10 aldermen nominated (by the Lt-Governor) to the MCD, who were declared by the presiding officer (nominated by the L-G) to vote in the mayoral election. Hearing a petition filed by the AAP, the Supreme Court ruled that the constitution does not give the nominated members the right to vote in the meetings, which ultimately led to the disallowing of votes in the mayoral elections.

The committee also asked Mr Singh questions related to the role of the presiding officer and the expenditure incurred by the civic body due to frequent adjournments of the first House meeting. The High Court is scheduled to hear a petition regarding the elections to the Standing Committee on March 22.

According to senior MCD officials, the committee found the replies sent by the municipal secretary’s office unsatisfactory and summoned Mr Singh. Mr Singh was not available when contacted for comment.

The latest development comes amid the ongoing power struggle between the AAP government and the LG.

Last month, on the instructions of the L-G, all departments of the Delhi government were asked to report violations, if any, by 27 assembly committees – almost all of which are headed by AAP MLAs. Last month, according to an official communication seen by The Hindu, the Speaker of the Assembly had said that the reports of assembly committees regarding violations of rules sought by Raj Niwas appeared to be an “attempt to interfere with the functioning of the assembly”.

Some MCD officials are of the view that summoning Mr. Singh violates the very same rules that the LG had asked to be cleared. “They [the committee] sent an ambulance to his house at night to see if he was really unwell. this is unacceptable. An official said, Mr Singh is a senior citizen and is suffering from high blood pressure.

Civic officials said the AAP MLAs had expressed their desire to remove Mr Singh on previous occasions. Officials cited Section 33 of the GNCTD Amendment Act, 2021, but said the assembly panel has no powers to scrutinize the day-to-day affairs of the MCD. Meaning the latter can rule over us,” said the official.