The Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) has summoned Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on 14 October over alleged irregularities in appointments made in Delhi Commission for Women (DCW).
Confirming the issuance of the summons, ACB chief MK Meena told reporters on Friday, "We’ve summoned him (Sisodia) on 14 October. He has made some specific comments on the role and functioning of the DCW. So, as part of the investigation, he has been called."
The summons was sent to Sisodia on 6 October.
The ACB is investigating the case on the basis of a complaint made by the former DCW chief Barkha Shukla Singh on 12 August. She had alleged that many supporters and volunteers of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were "illegally appointed" in the women's panel "without requisite credentials".
A case under sections 13(D) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the IPC was registered against Swati Maliwal, the DCW chief.
Besides, Maliwal and Sisodia, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too has been named in the case.
On 21 September, Kejriwal alleged that ACB had registered an FIR against him at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the 'administrative and financial irregularities' in the functioning of the DCW.
"In the FIR registered by the ACB, my name is also there...But it does not contain any details on my alleged role. One does not put the name of the Chief Minister in the FIR just like that. It cannot happen without the Prime Minister's approval. It is clear that the FIR has the PM's nod. We will soon call a Special Session of the Delhi Assembly where we will expose the conspiracy behind this," Kejriwal had told reporters at his official residence.
However, later the ACB refuted the allegation of Kejriwal.
"In the ACB's endorsement inquiry report, Kejriwal's name is not mentioned. He is not an accused in the case and we are not conducting an inquiry against him," Meena had later said.
Maliwal too had strongly criticized the move and said, the CM had no role in the appointments made in DCW.
She had denied any wrongdoing in appointments made by her in the commission and stated that the charges levelled against her were 'baseless'.
In an interview to Firstpost on 22 September, Maliwal had termed the allegations by her predecessor as "politically motivated and an act of malafide intentions".
While, the Delhi government is tight-lipped on this issue, a section of AAP volunteers believe that "anything can happen in the case of ACB".
"Earlier, when Kejriwal's name came up, there was no mention of Sisodia. Now, all of a sudden the ACB has summoned Sisodia as well. So anything is possible with the ACB," a senior AAP volunteer caustically remarked on the day’s development.
However, this is not the first time that a senior member in the AAP government has been summoned by the ACB. Both the Delhi government and the ACB share a strong love-hate relationship.
Even in the past, whenever ACB had questioned any AAP leader, the party had cried foul and termed it a "conspiracy". For instance, the ACB had questioned former Transport Minister Gopal Rai after BJP legislator Vijender Gupta alleged that the Delhi government had favoured a cab aggregator and no norms were being followed in its ambitious app-based premium bus service.
"There are charges of corruption and it is a fact that the Lieutenant Governor’s permission was not taken, but the notification claims that permission was taken…AAP government’s transport policy allegedly was tailor-made to benefit one operator, all stakeholders were not consulted," ACB chief Meena had reportedly said.
In another similar incident in 2015, Ashish Joshi, a 1992-batch Indian Post and Telecommunication Accounts and Finance Service (IP&TAFS) officer, who was Member-secretary (Finance) of Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) and member-secretary of Delhi Dialogue Commission, from where he was removed in May 2015, had moved the ACB against bureaucrat Rajendra Kumar. He had accused Kumar of corrupt practices and misuse of power and position.
In July, Sisodia lashed out at the Centre and alleged that the CBI, Delhi Police and the Anti-Corruption Branch were only left with one task, thats of "hatching conspiracies against the Aam Aadmi Party leaders and arresting them".