Kejriwal does homework before targeting big fish

Kejriwal does homework before targeting big fish

The Delhi government has done its ground work well and its Anti-Corruption Branch has the jurisdiction to proceed on any issue related to corruption, said senior officials.

Before targeting the central government and a top corporate over alleged wrongdoings in finalising natural gas pricing, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had long discussions and got a go-ahead from legal advisors. There is no hurdle in a Delhi ACB acting on corruption involving central government functionaries, said an official.

“The ACB has earlier taken action in matters related to corruption involving central government employees. There have been cases where action was taken against employees of the DDA and AIIMS,” said a senior official. 

In the gas pricing case, there were three grounds for the ACB to proceed, he said.“The complaint by four persons in the matter was made in the city, the decision on the price manipulation was taken in the capital and the impact of the wrongdoings would be on the city’s commuters who will have to face higher transportation cost and inflation,” said a government spokesperson.

Delhi government officials said the ACB may be funded and controlled by the state government but its mandate was no less than the Central Bureau of Investigation. “The ACB also files cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act as does the CBI,” he said. Supreme Court lawyer Meera Bhatia said if the content of the complaint received by the ACB is strong enough then an FIR should be filed regardless of the parties involved in the alleged offence.

“It is not the question of whether it is a decision (gas pricing) by the state government or the centre, but whether it is an issue that calls for action by the anti-corruption wing,” she said.

Any issue related to corruption can be probed by the ACB, she said. The complaint on gas pricing received by Kejriwal pointed out that since most of the alleged offences, including the most important decision to finalise the exorbitant hike in prices of gas, have been committed in Delhi the investigation be referred to the ACB. 

The wrongdoings in gas pricing will increase the hardships of people of Delhi and could also lead to non-availability of natural gas in the capital, therefore, a thorough and impartial probe by the ACB was important, said the complaint.Kejriwal made it clear that in the coming days more cases will be registered against the corrupt. 

“To deal with those cases the government will strengthen the ACD and create more posts,” he said, adding that he will invite honest officials from other states to write to him if they wanted to work in his government.

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