Delhi LG VK Saxena has refused to consider a report of Vigilance Minister Atishi alleging “prima facie complicity” of Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar in the Bamnoli land acquisition matter, stating that it seems to be “completely based” on the minister’s preconceived assumptions and presumptions, sources in the Raj Niwas said on Sunday (November 19). The Delhi government said that the LG should “allow an impartial enquiry by CBI into the matter and not prejudge the matter and protect certain individuals because of his fondness for them”.
The LG said that he received the ‘Preliminary Report’ on ‘Complaints’, submitted by Atishi and endorsed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and added that the report “could very well go on to hamper the ongoing investigation, instead of facilitating it”.
“It is surprising and unfortunate, to say the least, that this report, which deals with sensitive vigilance-related matters and has been marked to my Secretariat in confidential cover, is already in the public domain and its digital/electronic copies are freely available and details thereof have been widely reported in the media,” he has said in the file.
The LG noted that some selective text from the report was purportedly leaked to the media and said that “prima facie that the whole motive of this supposed inquiry was not to unearth the truth, but to start a media trial and politicise this whole issue”, even though the matter is before the Supreme Court.
“One is forced to wonder whether the same doesn’t amount to creating a public perception prejudice, aimed at influencing the Hon’ble courts,” he added.
Saxena pointed out that the matter was already being investigated by the CBI.
“Since the matter is already under investigation by the CBI as approved by me based on recommendations of the Chief Secretary and the Divisional Commissioner, it is my considered view that the recommendation …before me for consideration is prejudiced and devoid of merit and therefore, cannot be agreed to,” he has said.
Saxena highlighted that the proposal for CBI investigation was approved by him on the recommendations received from the chief secretary and the divisional commissioner themselves.
“The thrust of the Hon’ble Minister in this Report seems to be on the alleged connivance of the District Magistrate, the Divisional Commissioner and the Chief Secretary resulting in loss to government exchequer. However even the basic principles of enquiries have not been followed in the instant case,” he noted in the file.
“Simply, connecting some dots here and there without an unbroken chain of evidence whatsoever, would not serve any purpose. This report seems to be completely based on preconceived assumptions and presumption of the Hon’ble Minister and could very well go on to hamper the ongoing investigation, instead of facilitating it,” he added.
Delhi LG calls report “half-baked”
Describing the report as “half-baked”, he said that such “questionable work on the part of the Hon’ble Minister by using her official position for apparent political gains, may make the government vulnerable to legal consequences”.
Citing the media reports that the matter has been referred to the CBI and ED by the Chief Minister, he said that it is “beyond their competence as per law established”.
AAP government reacts
The Aam Aadmi Party government reacted sharply to the LG’s dismissal of the report and dubbed it a “brazen attempt on the part of the LG to protect his favourite officers, namely the chief secretary and divisional commissioner”.
“If they have done nothing wrong, why is LG obstructing an enquiry against them? The Vigilance Minister’s report was prompted because of a whistleblower complaint and media reports highlighting CS’s role in the scam, yet the LG has chosen to launch a political attack on the government itself. In all fairness, all available evidence should be forwarded to CBI to enable them to conduct an impartial enquiry,” they charged.
Responding to the LG’s objection that only he has the power to refer any matter to the CBI, the Kejriwal government said that the matter is already registered with CBI and now, any citizen, who possesses any evidence in the case, can send it to CBI.
“We request the Hon’ble LG to allow an impartial enquiry by CBI into the matter and not prejudge the matter and protect certain individuals because of his fondness for them. It is a matter of fact that the chief secretary’s son is an employee and a director in beneficiary company. We are surprised that the LG finds nothing unusual in the fact that a 30-year-old son of CS is a director in a web of companies, many of which are registered at the same address, have same email ID and have same set of people as directors working in diverse sectors like infrastructure, healthcare, waste management, real estate etc. Interestingly, most of these companies have their business footprint in Delhi, where CS is the head of bureaucracy and strangely, the companies become beneficiaries of several govt contracts and largesse. LG thinks this is all normal and CS has no role in it?” they claimed.
The 670-page report of Atishi was submitted to the LG by Kejriwal’s office last Wednesday.
The report has demanded Kumar’s suspension claiming that the scale of “undue benefits” in the matter is over Rs 897 crore.
The 19-acre land in question was acquired by the National Highways Authority of India in 2018 for the construction of the Dwarka Expressway.
(With PTI inputs)