SDMs to be given greater power in Delhi

Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) will henceforth enjoy much greater power in the Delhi Government. All plans in this regard have been made with an aim to rein in the till now uncontrollable Station House Officers (SHOs) in the Police Department and Junior Engineers (JEs) in departments like MCD and Jal Nigam. A Special Task Force too will be provided to the SDMs who will henceforth keep watch on the erring SHOs and JEs. This was revealed to RNI on condition of anonymity by a senior bureaucrat who is in the thick of enforcing the plan to keep a check on these junior officers.

‘It is clear to us that the king in Delhi is neither the Chief Minister nor the Lt. Governor. Even the Prime Minister does not seem to wield so much power,’ said the source adding further that the real power is in the hands of SHOs in the Police Department and JE level officers in departments like MCD, who flout it at their will. ‘Keeping this in mind, a decision has been made to give more teeth to the SDMs so that they can keep a check on the illegal and unlawful acts being committed almost on daily basis by these erring officers. The SDMs will also be provided a STF and will be empowered to take action against the junior officers,’ said the source.

One chief reason why this decision has been taken is owing to the rampant illegal construction that continues unabated in almost all areas of Delhi despite strict orders. This is happening because the JEs and beat officers in the Police Department work in a nexus and take bribes in lieu of keeping a blind eye to the ongoing construction activity. Despite all efforts, the Government has until now failed to keep a check on this illegal construction activity.

The initial measures taken by the Delhi Government were to appoint people known for their honesty and integrity at various key positions. Several officers from the armed forces were brought on deputation to posts like Deputy Commissioners in MCD. Despite their honest efforts, these officers failed to control the activities of junior officers and the construction mafia. Therefore the Delhi Government has chalked out the new plan of empowering the SDMs, it is learnt.

However, everybody is not so optimistic. If you concentrate power on a person, majority of them are bound to misuse it. Senior government officials are of the view that empowering the SDMs would mean an additional power center. SM Haider, a former SDM in Delhi Government says that though giving additional powers to SDMs is a welcome step, it would be better to make joint committee of SDMs, ACPs and Executive Engineers and hold them responsible for their respective areas. The STF should take action against errant junior officials but in case any violation is still seen, the whole committee should be held responsible and action should be taken against it.