The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered an FIR against seven people, including former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, under the Prevention of Corruption Act in connection with a snooping case related to the ruling Aam Aadmi Party’s alleged ‘Feedback Unit (FBU).’
Reacting to the development, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that this was PM’s plan to keep Sisodia in jail for a prolonged period of time. “PM’s plan is to slap several false cases against Manish and keep him in custody for a long period. Sad for the country!” the Delhi CM tweeted.
The CBI registered an FIR on March 14 – days after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) gave sanction to prosecute Sisodia. They have been booked on the charges of criminal conspiracy, dishonest misappropriation of property, criminal breach of trust by a public servant, forgery for the purpose of cheating, using as genuine a forged document, falsification of accounts, and criminal misconduct by a public servant.
“A written complaint on March 9 was received from Vijay A. Desai, inspector, CBI (anti-corruption branch). A case has been registered against Manish Sisodia, the then Deputy CM of Delhi, Sukesh Kumar Jain, the then Secretary Vigilance in Delhi government, Rakesh Kumar Sinha, retired DIG of CISF – the then Special Advisor to the Chief Minister and Joint Director (FBU), Pradeep Kumar Punj, retired Joint Deputy Director of Intelligence Bureau – the then Deputy Director (FBU), Satish Khetrapal, retired Assistant Commandant of CISF – working as Feed Back Officer, Gopal Mohan, Advisor Anti-corruption to the CM of Delhi and unknown others,” the FIR states.
The complainant Desai said an inquiry has revealed that FBU, in addition to collecting the mandated information, the Unit also collected political intelligence, which accounted for about 40 per cent of the total reports generated by it and was beyond the scope and ambit of functions for which it was manifestly created. “The inquiry also revealed that Sisodia gave approval for the special allowance for FBU on a proposal moved by P K Punj vide a note dated April 22, 2016. As described above the unlawful manner of creation and working of the FBU has caused wrongful loss to the government exchequer to the tune of approximately Rs 36 lakh,” he alleged.
In the FIR, Desai said on the basis of orders of the Lieutenant Governor, Delhi, a written complaint was received from K C Meena, Deputy Secretary (Vigilance), Directorate of Vigilance, Delhi Secretariat. “On this complaint, a Preliminary Enquiry was registered on December 2, 2016, in CBI and the enquiry has revealed that the creation of FBU was approved vide a Cabinet Decision No. 2217 on September 20, 2015, which was taken on the basis of a ‘Tabled Item’ with the approval of the Chief Minister of Delhi,” he alleged.
“The mandate of the FBU was to collect relevant information and actionable feedback regarding the working of various departments/autonomous bodies/institutions/entities etc. in the jurisdiction of Delhi government and to conduct trap cases. Accordingly, the Secretary (Vigilance) was directed to submit a detailed proposal for setting up of FBU. The posts being created for FBU were proposed to be initially manned by serving as well as retired personnel. Later, the Secretary (Vigilance) submitted a detailed proposal for setting up FBU, which was approved by the Chief Minister on October 28, 2015, and as per the approval of the Delhi CM, FBU was asked to report to Secretary (Vigilance),” the FIR states.
“Sukesh Jain deliberately and wilfully avoided referring the matter of the creation of 20 posts in FBU to the Administrative Reforms Department for concurrence at any stage up to filling up of these posts. On the basis of Jain’s proposal, Sisodia approved that 20 posts in FBU be adjusted against 88 posts created in the Anti-Corruption Branch on January 25, 2016. These 88 posts were created vide Cabinet Decision no. 2137 on April 1, 2015. However, the Administrative Reforms department had only tentatively agreed to the creation of these 88 posts, subject to detailed work study by them,” it says.
“The proposal for the creation of these 88 posts had not been sent for approval of the competent authority, Delhi L-G and these posts had not been notified. Also, no ‘Recruitment Rules’ for the posts to be created in FBU were framed, but 17 posts in FBU were filled up by the appointment of retired personnel on a contract basis for which administrative approval for expenditure of Rs 20,59,474/- for operationalization of FBU was sought from the account head ‘Other Charges’ of the Finance Department. This constitutes an act of illegal diversion,” the FIR further states.
Desai said the inquiry has also revealed that no approval from the competent authority, Delhi L-G, was taken for the appointment of retired personnel in FBU and these appointments were non-est, null and void since inception, as they were not only in violation of rules, guidelines and constitutional provisions.
“The FBU started functioning from February 2016 and apart from other paraphernalia, a provision of Rs 1 crore was kept for Secret Service Expenditure for the year 2016-17, out of which Rs 10 lakh were disbursed to the FBU in two instalments of Rs 5 lakh each on June 7 and 13, 2016 respectively. Out of this, Rs. 5.5 lakh has been shown to be spent by the FBU,” he said.
“In two instances payments had been shown/made from SS Fund (SSF) to one M/s Silver Shield Detectives of Rs 1.5 lakh and M/s W.W. Security of Rs 60,000 June 8, 2016. And immediately the next day of the release of SSF to Satish Khetrapal, who was maintaining the SS Fund. However, during the inquiry, it has been revealed that the vouchers in lieu of disbursing the payments have been found to be false. The owners of both the said firms denied doing any work for the Delhi government or FBU and denied receiving any such payment. They also stated that the vouchers made in the name of their firms are fabricated. The SSF and its vouchers were physically in control of Satish Khetrapal,” he alleged.