CM to order judicial probe in CNG scam

The Delhi government on Tuesday decided to constitute a Commission of Inquiry into the CNG vehicle fitness scam even without apparently having the power to order such a probe by a retired judge.

Raj Niwas sources said the future of this judicial inquiry is “doomed” till the time Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung approves it – a possibility which is highly unlikely.
Sources in the Delhi government said the decision constituting the inquiry was made without even preparing a cabinet note and ignoring the practice of seeking advice of officials of departments like law and justice and  home.

AAP leaders claimed the inquiry decision may bring under the lens Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and former chief minister Sheila Dikshit of the Congress as this scam dates to 2002 . Jung in 2014 accepted a judicial committee’s suggestion not do indict any government  functionary.

The decision of the Arvind Kejriwal government to constitute the inquiry comes a few days after the Anti-Corruption Bureau summoned the Chief Minister’s top aide Rajender Kumar, IAS, in connection with the scam. Kumar earlier served in the transport department.

Also, a delegation of the BJP met President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday seeking his intervention alleging that Kejriwal was indulging in unconstitutional acts.
Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain told reporters that the decision on ordering the inquiry was taken  as there were too many parallel probes and inquiries happening over the CNG scam.

“The inquiry commission will look into all the investigations and developments that have taken place so far in this case, including wrongful denials of sanctions to prosecute guilty officials and dereliction of duty in taking action against those involved in the scam,” he said. 

When asked whether Jung or Dikshit will be questioned, Jain said it will be up to the Commission to decide.

He said the one-man probe panel, being set up under Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, will investigate all aspects of the scam. It will be headed by Justice (Retd) S N Agarwal, a former judge of Delhi and Madhya Pradesh High Courts.

The CNG fitness scam surfaced in 2012 when ACB found that the Delhi government had lost over Rs 100 crore by awarding the contract to operate and maintain certification of CNG vehicles at the transport authority in Burari to ESP India Pvt Ltd instead of ESP USA.

The scam relates to alleged wrong doings in selection of a firm to conduct fitness checks of CNG-run vehicles and a committee headed by a former high court chief justice has already given a clean chit to all government functionaries.

A government functionary, however, clarified that the proposed judicial inquiry into CNG scam would be independent of the current probe being conducted by the Anti-Corruption Branch which recently summoned Rajender Kumar.

The fate of the inquiry ordered by the Delhi government hangs in balance as the recent bill passed by the Assembly giving the Arvind Kejriwal regime the power to constitute judicial inquiries has still not got the nod from the Union Home Ministry.
Till the time the elected government is conferred with the power to constitute judicial inquiry, the power vests in Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.

In its report dated June 10, 2014, a Committee of Justice Mukul Mudgal (retired Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court) and Ramesh Chandra (retired IAS officer) probed the allegations of wrongdoings in the CNG fitness issue. The committee noted that the Delhi government had overlooked the manner in which the name of the consultant company had “metamorphosed” into another and slammed the government’s “lackadaisical” response.

The inquiry, however, indicted no government functionary and this finding was accepted by Jung.

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