The Centre has stripped the Delhi Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of powers to probe central government employees for bribery, a move aimed at clipping the powers that the Arvind Kejriwal-led government invoked to book two Union petroleum ministers earlier this year.
The Union home ministry has amended the 1993 notification that the Kejriwal-led Delhi government had flaunted to book two UPA ministers, Veerappa Moily and Murli Deora, on charges of allegedly fixing gas prices in Andhra’s KG Basin to benefit Reliance Industries.
This notification gave the ACB a free hand to probe offences under the anti-corruption law in Delhi, irrespective of who is involved.
“This notification shall apply to the officers and employees of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi,” IS Chahal, joint secretary at the home ministry said, in a July 23 order, clipping the bureau’s wings.
This means the ACB would have to turn away people complaining about corruption in Delhi Police and the Delhi Development Authority as well. Instead, people only have to approach the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) with their complaints.
Additional Commissioner of Police V Renganathan, who heads the ACB refused to speak on this subject. “The matter is sub-judice.... I have nothing to say,” he said, in reference to the high court hearing a petition challenging the ACB’s powers to probe the Centre’s decision on gas pricing.
His predecessor N Dilip Kumar, who breathed life into the otherwise moribund anti-graft department during his stint in 2009-11 and encouraged people to do stings on the corrupt, said the Centre’s move was “very unfortunate”.“For a government that came to power on the promise to strike at the roots of corruption, this is outrageous... The police, municipal corporations and the DDA are one of the most corrupt bodies,” the retired IPS officer said.A home ministry official told HT that the ACB would still be able to investigate employees of municipal bodies. “But the DDA and Delhi Police come under the Central government. They can only be probed by the CBI,” the official stressed.