MHA nod to prosecute Sisodia in 'political intelligence' case; Sisodia calls move cowardly
Sisodia took to Twitter to hit out at the Centre's move which he described as signs of "weak and cowardly person"
In fresh trouble for Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the Centre cleared the way for registering a new case against the AAP leader by giving sanction for prosecution to the CBI in a case related to the alleged collection of "political intelligence" through a Delhi government department.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs conveyed to Delhi's Lt Governor's office granting of sanction to prosecute Sisodia under Section 17 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (powers to police for investigating a public servant).
Sisodia took to Twitter to hit out at the Centre's move which he described as signs of "weak and cowardly person" and said more frivolous cases will be filed as the AAP marches ahead.
He added that the more AAP will grow, the more cases will be filed against its leaders.
In a communication to the principal secretary to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor, the home ministry said the sanction to prosecute Sisodia was granted under Section 17 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
"Filing cases against one's rivals is a sign of a weak and coward person. The more AAP will grow, the more cases will be filed against us," he said in a tweet in Hindi.
Early this month, the CBI had said it found in its preliminary inquiry that the feedback unit (FBU) set up by the Delhi government to check corruption allegedly collected "political intelligence" and the agency recommended that an FIR be registered against Sisodia.
He is already facing a CBI case for alleged favours extended to liquor traders in the formulation of now-scrapped Delhi Excise policy of 2021-22. He is to appear before the probe agency on February 26.
The move comes after the CBI had said it found during its preliminary inquiry that the Feedback Unit (FBU), set up by the Delhi government to check corruption, allegedly collected "political intelligence" and the agency recommended that an FIR be registered against Sisodia.
The Aam Aadmi Party dispensation had proposed setting up the FBU in 2015 to gather relevant information and actionable feedback regarding the working of the various departments and autonomous bodies, institutions and entities falling under the jurisdiction of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) and also to do "trap cases", the CBI said.
The unit started functioning in 2016 with a provision of Rs 1 crore for secret service expenditure, it said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation alleged that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal moved the proposal in a Cabinet meeting in 2015, but no agenda note was circulated. No sanction from the Lieutenant Governor was taken for appointments in the FBU, it claimed.
"The Feedback Unit, in addition to collecting the mandated information, also collected political intelligence/intelligence qua miscellaneous issues," the CBI said in its preliminary inquiry report.
The CBI registered the preliminary inquiry on a reference from the Delhi government's vigilance department, which had allegedly detected irregularities in the FBU.
Prima facie, the CBI noted, there was deliberate violation of rules, guidelines and circulars by "delinquent public servants".
"The nature of violations committed is inherently dishonest and as such materials disclose abuse of official position with dishonest intention by concerned public servants Manish Sisodia, Dy. CM and Sukesh Kumar Jain, the then Secretary (Vigilance)," the report claimed.
According to the CBI, 60 per cent of the reports generated by the FBU pertained to vigilance and corruption matters, while "political intelligence" and other issues accounted for around 40 per cent.
"The scrutiny of such reports during the period from February 2016 to the early part of September 2016 shows that a substantial number of reports submitted by FBU officials related not to actionable feedback or information on corruption in any department, institute, entity etc. under the GNCTD but related to political activities of persons, political entities and political issues touching political interest of Aam Aadmi Party, BJP, which was beyond the scope and ambit of functions of FBU," the CBI has alleged.
It alleged that the FBU was misused by the public servants concerned for a purpose other than the one for which it was manifestly created.
"Use of FBU to this extent for the purpose of gathering political intelligence for AAP or for its convenor Arvind Kejriwal can reasonably be interpreted to mean and constitute the obtaining of valuable things or pecuniary advantage, as gathering this information otherwise would necessarily have entailed spending money," the CBI alleged.
The CBI said the FBU was functioning for some "hidden purpose" which was not in the interest of the GNCTD but "private interest of the Aam Aadmi Party and Manish Sisodia", who played an active role in the creation of the unit, "flouting" the established rules of GNCTD and MHA in connivance with Sukesh Kumar Jain, the then vigilance secretary.
It was also revealed that no formal action was taken against any public servant or department based on FBU reports, the CBI alleged.
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