CBI lodges fresh case against Sisodia in snooping case

New Delhi | Updated: 16 March, 2023 3:49 pm IST
The CBI has registered a fresh case against arrested AAP leader and former Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia and five others in connection with the alleged illegal snooping by Delhi government’s Feedback Unit
The CBI has registered a fresh case against arrested AAP leader and former Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia and five others in connection with the alleged illegal snooping by Delhi government’s Feedback Unit

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a fresh case against arrested Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and former Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia and five others in connection with the alleged illegal snooping by Delhi government’s Feedback Unit (FBU).

The CBI has also named Sukesh Kumar Jain (IRS-1992), the then Secretary Vigilance, Rakesh Kumar Sinha (retd. DIG, CISF), working as Special Advisor to the Chief Minister and Joint Director, Feedback Unit, Pradeep Kumar Punj (retired joint deputy director, IB), working as Deputy Director, Feedback Unit, Satish Khetrapal (Retd. Assistant Commandant, CISF), working as Feed Back Officer (FBO), Gopal Mohan, Advisor Anti-corruption to the CM of Delhi and unknown others, it said in a written statement.

They have been booked for charges of criminal conspiracy, dishonesty misappropriation of property, criminal breach of trust by public servants, forgery for the purpose of cheating, using as genuine forged documents, falsification of accounts and, criminal misconduct by the public servant.

The CBI registered the case upon orders of Delhi LG VK Saxena. A written complaint was received from K.C. Meena, Deputy Secretary (Vigilance), Directorate of Vigilance.

The CBI had initiated a PE in 2016 based on a written complaint filed by the Deputy Secretary (Vigilance), GNCT of Delhi, KS Meena.

Soon after coming to power with a landslide win in 2015, the AAP proposed to set up the FBU to gather relevant information and actionable feedback regarding the working of various departments and autonomous bodies, institutions and entities falling under the jurisdiction of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) and also to do “trap cases”, the CBI said.

The decision was taken by the Council of Ministers on a proposal from the Chief Minister as a ‘Tabled Item’. However, there was no cabinet note in this regard. In pursuance of the aforesaid decision, the Secretary (Vigilance) submitted a detailed proposal for setting up the FBU, which was approved by the Chief Minister on October 28, 2015. As per the approval of the Chief Minister, the FBU was to report to the Secretary (Vigilance).

The FBU started functioning in February 2016 and a provision of ₹1 crore was kept for Secret Service (SS) Expenditure.

In its probe, the CBI found that the FBU, in addition to collecting the mandated information, also collected “political intelligence/intelligence qua miscellaneous issue”.

“A rough analysis of the nature of reports generated by this unit reveals that 60 per cent of them are related to vigilance matters, whereas political intelligence and other issues accounted for around 40 per cent. It was also revealed that no formal action was taken against any public servant or department,” the probe revealed.

It is further said that the scrutiny of such reports during the period from February to September 2016 shows that a substantial number of reports submitted by FBU officials did not relate to actionable feedback or information on corruption in any department, institutes, entities, etc. under GNCTD.

“But were related to the political activities of persons, political entities and political issues touching the political interests of the Aam Aadmi Party, the BJP, or the like, which were beyond the scope and ambit of the functions of FBU,” the agency said.

The CBI further added that the FBU was misused by the concerned public servants for a purpose other than the one for which it was manifestly created.

“Use of FBU to this extent to gather Political Intelligence for AAP or (AAP) convenor (Delhi CM) Arvind Kejriwal can reasonably be interpreted to mean and constitute the obtaining of valuable thing or pecuniary advantage, as for gathering this information otherwise would necessarily have entailed spending of money,” CBI said.

It also alleged that the FBU was not functioning for the purposes for which it was approved by the cabinet and created but was working for some other “hidden purpose” that was not in the interest of the GNCTD but in the private interest of AAP and Sisodia, who played an active role in the creation of the FBU, flouting established rules of the GNCTD and MHA in connivance with Sukesh Kumar Jain, the then Secretary Vigilance.

“The inquiry prima facie established that the unit, i.e., the Feedback Unit (FBU), was created in GNCTD under the Vigilance Department and was to report its work to the Secretary (Vigilance),” the CBI probe revealed.

“The creation of the unit violated the established rules without the approval of the competent authority. The unit never reported its work to the secretary (Vigilance). The vouchers created instead of the utilization of the SS fund allotted to this unit were found to be fabricated and it is prima facie established that the fund was misappropriated,” the CBI probe revealed.

The probe further revealed that despite all these, the special allowance was granted to this unit with the approval of the Secretary (Vigilance) and Deputy CM or Minister (Vigilance). “The unit, apart from gathering vigilance-related information, also gathered political intelligence for the political party to which Dy. CM belonged, as described above,” CBI said.

The agency also said that all these allegations call for a detailed investigation.

It also said that on September 26, 2016, under the new Secretary of Vigilance, Ashwani Kumar, a letter was again sent to RK Sinha, retired DIG, CISF, with a request to provide the requisite details by September 26.

Sinha was working as a special advisor to the CM. He was also the joint director of the FBU.

However, despite the letter, no such report was provided. Therefore, a note was moved by KS Meena, Dy Secretary for Vigilance, mentioning the details and requesting to close down the FBU to avoid further questionable expenditures. On the same day, Ashwani Kumar noted that the unit needed to be shut down immediately.

Therefore, 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 ₹36 lakhs, the CBI probe said.

Sisodia was arrested on February 26 by the CBI in an excise policy case. The ED also arrested him and he is presently under its custody till March 20

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