A turf war seems to have broken out between the Centre and Andhra Pradesh over corruption investigations days after the N Chandrababu Naidu government withdrew general consent to the CBI to conduct probe in the state.
On Friday, hours after the AP Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested a Central GST superintendent over allegations of corruption, the CBI, in a statement, said it had sent a request to the Naidu government for sanction against the same officer. It alleged that instead of giving the sanction to CBI to proceed against the officer, Mukku Kali Ramaneswar, the state government gave the information to its ACB, which acted upon that information.
In a media release, the ACB stated that it had laid a trap and arrested Ramaneswar while he was allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 30,000 from a businessman. “This is the first trap case against a Central government employee after general consent to the CBI was withdrawn (on November 16),” the ACB stated.
CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said, “We developed this case and sent a request 48 hours ago, as is required after withdrawal of general consent, to seek consent of the state government to proceed against Ramaneswar. We told the state government to not share the information with any other agency. The government, however, gave it to its ACB, which laid a trap and arrested the officer.” In another statement, the central agency stated, “CBI deeply regrets such noncooperation by the State Home Department. This will only make the fight against corruption more difficult for anti-corruption agencies and mutual trust between agencies will be vitiated.”
According to the ACB, a businessman, K Lokesh Babu, received a call from Ramaneswar on November 12, allegedly asking “him to come to his office to discuss input tax credit claim”. On November 19, ACB stated, Lokesh went to Ramanareswar’s office and was handed a notice. “Ramaneswar told him, you come with all documents mentioned in given notice and demanded formality amount Rs 1,00,000…on 23.11.2018.”
Ramaneswar, the ACB said, “warned” Lokesh that he will receive help only if he paid the “demanded amount”, otherwise “you will face problems…”. According to ACB, the money was negotiated at Rs 30,000. Lokesh subsequently lodged a complaint with ACB. Based on the complaint, the trap was laid.