No mention of control over ACB in Supreme Court verdict on AAP-L-G tussle

The control over ACB was the first of many issues on which the AAP government had a face-off with the Centre. The ACB, which is under the state government’s vigilance department, gets its officers from Delhi Police, and has the power to register FIRs on alleged corruption cases and make arrests.

delhi Updated: Jul 05, 2018 12:00 IST
New Delhi
Supreme Court,Verdict,Arvind Kejriwal
In the run-up to the 2015 assembly elections, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal talked about fighting corruption and using the ACB effectively.(Vipin Kumar/HT File Photo)

In its 535-page judgment, the Supreme Court made at least 12 observations and directions on issues related to the turf war between the AAP and Lieutenant-Governor (L-G), but there was no mention of the government’s anti-corruption branch (ACB).

The control of the anti-graft unit was the first of many issues on which the AAP government had a face-off with the Centre. The ACB, which is under the state government’s vigilance department, gets its officers from Delhi Police. The agency has the power to register first information reports on alleged corruption cases and make arrests.

Commenting on the ACB after the Apex court judgment on Tuesday, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said, “The Supreme Court has not given any clarification on ACB and has sent the matter to the regular bench.”

Delhi government has maintained that ACB officers should report to the state government because the unit is under the government’s vigilance department. The Centre, through the ministry of home affairs, has said that because the ACB is a police station where cases are registered, it will be under the L-G’s control.

The city police, through its police chief — the commissioner — also reports to the L-G. The ACB, at present, headed by special commissioner of police Arvind Deep, reports to the L-G.

Face-off

In the run-up to the 2015 assembly elections, AAP talked about fighting corruption and using the ACB effectively. In April 2015, Arvind Kejriwal appointed 1997-batch IPS officer SS Yadav to head the branch.

Within four months, another officer Mukesh Meena, of the 1989 batch, was appointed by then L-G to head the unit — a decision AAP criticised, alleging he was brought in to overrule Yadav’s orders. The state home department had then issued an order terming Meena’s appointment as ‘null and void’ but it was rejected by the L-G.

The party had then alleged that by appointing Meena, the Centre was stopping the Delhi government from pursuing cases against politicians, corporates and government bureaucrats. At one point, the anti-corruption branch’s website had names of Yadav and Meena as its “chiefs”.

While Yadav was transferred in April 2016 by then L-G Najeeb Jung, Meena continued to head the ACB until his transfer in November last year. Meena had threatened to sue Kejriwal for allegedly making unsubstantiated allegations.

Also, in April 2015, Kejriwal got five police officers from Bihar on deputation to the ACB. The officers were given a separate room at the ACB headquarters. Within months of taking charge of ACB, Meena wrote to the L-G that the above appointments was against the law as there could only be one police force. The officers were sent back.

The party also alleged the agency had been used to harass Kejriwal by targeting his brother-in-law and nephew.

On May 10, ACB arrested Kejriwal’s nephew Vinay Bansal in connection with an alleged PWD scam that involved submitting fake bills to claim money for construction work.

First Published: Jul 05, 2018 12:00 IST