Delhi public works department minister Rajkumar Chauhan is finally off the hook in the case of allegedly misusing his office to help owners of a resort evade taxes, as was charged by the state Lokayaukta last year.
On Tuesday President Pratibha Patil rejected the Lokayukta's recommendation of sacking Chauhan and dismissed the charges altogether.
Three months ago Delhi Lokayukta Manmohan Sarin had sent the recommendation to the President after his inquiry found that Chauhan had called officials to stop a tax raid at the resort near Chattarpur in South Delhi. Sarin called it a criminal misuse of powers.
"The President has not accepted the findings and recommendations of the Lokayukta in the report," the home ministry wrote in a letter sent to the Lokayukta.
Under fire from the Opposition last year over this issue, Chauhan had maintained in the Assembly that he had not tried to favour anyone.
"As ministers, we keep getting requests from people for all sorts of things. I have not done anything to wrongly favour anyone," he had told the Assembly.
The Lokayukta inquiry began about a year ago when Jalaj Shrivastva, the then added tax commissioner, wrote to the government stating that Chauhan had called him up to stop a tax-related raid at Tivoli Garden and Resorts Hotels in Chattarpur, at the behest of its owners.
Chauhan had argued that people often requested elected representatives like him to make phone calls. But the Lokayukta did not agree with this contention saying a minister like Chauhan shouldn't have agreed to interfere in a tax raid.
Chauhan said on Wednesday that now his stand was vindicated. Sources at the Lokayukta said that Sarin might not close his inquiry yet. He might be filing a special report before the assembly on his findings. This is a provision the Lokayukta has in case his recommendations are rejected.
Sarin stood by his findings saying such setbacks were expected in cases that demanded "systemic changes" and "enforcement of moral values".
"It is for the society to build an effective public opinion for non-acceptance of such conduct," Sarin told reporters.
Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cried foul saying the Congress had no willingness to fight corruption.