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After SC verdict, show goes on as usual at Delhi’s ACB

A senior government officer at Delhi’s ACB said that for the past four years, the Centre has been controlling Delhi’s anti-corruption branch.

delhi Updated: Feb 15, 2019 11:36 IST
Prawesh Lama
Prawesh Lama
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
delhi ACB,SC order on delhi ACB,anti corruption branch of delhi
A four-year battle between the Delhi government and the Centre over control of the anti-corruption branch was decided in favour of the central government by the Supreme Court on Thursday, Feb 14, 2019.(Amal KS/HT Photo)

At the Delhi government’s anti-corruption branch (ACB), on the fifth floor in north Delhi’s Vikas Bhawan, it was business as usual on Thursday.

Just hours earlier, a four-year battle between the state and the Centre over control of the branch had come to an end at the Supreme Court, which ruled in the central government’s favour.

In April 2015, two months after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) returned to power in Delhi, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal appointed IPS officer SS Yadav to head the anti-graft unit. But two months later, the central government replaced him with his senior Mukesh Meena, a post he held till he was transferred to Mizoram in 2017. At present, special commissioner of police Arvind Deep heads the unit.

In the meantime, in May 2015, the state government had approached the Delhi High Court alleging interference by the Centre in transfer of officers and control of the ACB.

“Nothing changes despite the Supreme Court judgment, which took over three years, nine months and fourteen days,” a senior government officer said stressing that for the past four years, the Centre has been controlling the unit.

“It is the Centre that has appointed the officer who is currently leading the ACB. Although on paper, the ACB comes under the state government’s department of vigilance, the ACB chief reports to the lieutenant governor today. There are meetings held with the vigilance department officers but the state government is not consulted on any issue. So nothing changes,” another senior government officer, who did not wish to be named, said.

Senior ACB officers, who wished to remain unidentified, said that the a fallout of the SC judgment is that the inquiry ordered against former Meena will now be infructuous.

“A commission of inquiry appointed by the AAP government had issued a non-bailable warrant against Meena for his alleged role in the CNG fitness scam,” said a senior officer. “He was also asked to join the inquiry, but he did not. The state government had even directed him to stay away from ACB office premises, but he continued to attend office after Centre government termed all orders from Delhi government null and void. The Delhi High Court had stayed the inquiry. Now all that is invalid.”

The ACB officer said they are currently focusing on clearing the large backlog of cases that are still pending investigation. When asked if any case such as the one against chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s nephew would now gather steam, an officer said, “The ACB arrested the chief minister’s nephew about ten months ago after conducting a detailed inquiry. There are two more projects, in which he is allegedly linked but investigation will proceed at its own pace. The order will not expedite or delay our probes in any case.”

First Published: Feb 15, 2019 11:18 IST