Sunday, April 14, 2024

Kejriwal sends Atishi’s preliminary report against Delhi Chief Secy to L-G, recommends suspension

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday sent Vigilance Minister Atishi’s report in connection with the alleged corruption charges against Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar in the Dwarka Expressway project, to Lieutenant Governor (L-G) V. K. Saxena.

AAP sources said Kejriwal has recommended his immediate removal from the post with suspension, and has also given directions to Atishi to send the report to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The development comes a day after Atishi, who initiated an inquiry against Kumar, submitted a 670-page preliminary report to Kejriwal.

In the report, it is alleged that investigation has found that Naresh Kumar benefited a company linked to his son with Rs 850 crore illicit profits, sources said.

Additional Chief Secretary/Divisional Commissioner Ashwini Kumar on Monday held a press conference in the national capital, terming all the charges against the Chief Secretary as “false and baseless”.

“The Chief Secretary had no role in awarding (the contract), or arbitration. Rather, he made proactive efforts for action to be taken. The action was ultimately precipitated,” Ashwini Kumar had said.

However, the Chief Secretary is yet to respond to the charges levelled against him.

A source said that Atishi submitted the preliminary report to Kejriwal on the alleged involvement of Naresh Kumar in enhancing an exorbitant compensation award for a land parcel in Bamnoli village in order to provide illicit profit to a company linked to his son, Karan Chauhan.

The source said that the preliminary report, that runs into 670 pages, brings out several incriminating facts and states that the “connections and the chronology give the prima facie appearance of complicity” of Naresh Kumar with District Magistrate (Southwest) Hemant Kumar and landowners in the land acquisition on the Dwarka Expressway.

The source further said that the report also unveils a conspiracy by senior officers of the Vigilance Department, including the Chief Secretary, to undervalue the scale of the scam as Rs 312 crore, when the actual compensation award would have resulted in an illicit gain of Rs 850 crore to the beneficiaries.

The source said that the report states: “Being the most salient fact pertaining to this scam, the possibility of this being an oversight by all the officers of the DOV (Department of Vigilance) that signed on the report, including the Chief Vigilance Officer and Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar, seems suspect. This prima-facie points to an attempt to hide the scale of this corruption so as to prevent scrutiny of persons involved in giving effect to it.”

The source said that on the basis of this inquiry, Atishi has recommended to the Chief Minister for immediate removal of Naresh Kumar and Ashwani Kumar from their posts so that they do not influence the probe.

She has also urged that files related to this matter be seized from them to prevent any tampering or destruction of evidence.

The source said that the minister recommended for disciplinary proceedings against Naresh Kumar and Ashwani Kumar and also recommended that this report be sent to the CBI to provide the agency with a complete view of the facts discovered herein to expand the scope of the existing CBI inquiry to investigate the complicity of the Chief Secretary and Divisional Commissioner with Hemant Kumar and the landowners.

The source said that Atishi has also said that a reference be made to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) apprising it of the likelihood of the commission of offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 in the chain of transactions, from the purchase of the land by the landowners in 2015 leading up to the illegal compensation awarded for its acquisition in 2023.

The Vigilance Minister further sought a pending inquiry by a competent authority into the matter.

Atishi said, “It is clear that there is conflict of interest arising between the position of the Chief Secretary and the Principal Home Secretary (the charge of which is held by Divisional Commissioner Ashwani Kumar) in the NCCSA and their alleged role in the transactions highlighted in this report.

“The principles of natural justice dictate that no person should be a judge in his cause, also called the rule against bias. To ensure that the process is fair and impartial, it is necessary that the Chief Secretary and the Principal Home Secretary/Principal Revenue Secretary not be involved in the current process.

“Therefore, it is recommended that the Chief Minister may directly send this report and make recommendations to the Lieutenant Governor, without involving the officers who are the subject matter of this report.”

The report was sought from the minister after Kejriwal forwarded the complaint to her on November 10, which alleged irregularities in the compensation awarded in a land acquisition matter. The Chief Secretary is accused of benefiting an unduly profit of Rs 315 crore to his son.

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