Fresh twist in DDCA row: Investigating chief claims he was pressured to name 'certain VIP'

A new twist in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) tale. Chetan Sanghi, Delhi principal secretary in the vigilance department, has written to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi saying he was under pressure from “various stakeholders” to name a “certain VIP” in his report as chairman of the committee set up by the Delhi government to probe irregularities in DDCA November last year.

Arun Jaitely and Arvind Kejriwal. IBNLive

Arun Jaitely and Arvind Kejriwal. IBNLive

The committee headed by Sangi submitted its report in three days. It was on the basis of this report that the government appointed a commission of inquiry, headed by former Solicitor-General and senior advocate Gopal Subramanium to investigate alleged financial irregularities in the DDCA.

Sanghi, who has been on leave for some time, said in his letter to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi: “There was considerable emphasis on naming who were at fault and in particular a certain VIP. There was a lot of pressure from various stakeholders since the subject was very controversial.”

In December, the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP blamed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was DDCA president till 2013, for alleged irregularities. Jaitley responded by filing a defamation case against Kejriwal and other AAP leaders.

In a letter to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi on December 28, Sanghi made a request for central deputation and also brought up issues connected to the DDCA. “There was a lot of pressure from various stakeholders since the subject was very controversial. There were a lot of yesteryear cricket luminaries who were very vocal about the alleged mismanagement in DDCA.

Sanghi — whose report does not name anybody — added that since the “formal mandate was not to do so”, it was a "tight-rope walk". The short time-frame of three days, too, did not help matters, he said.

"There was an impending cricket Test match with South Africa in the first week of December,” he wrote. “The media speculation was also rife with various angles to the issue. The complaints were pouring thick and fast and many of these were from important people and had allegations by name. There was considerable emphasis on naming who were at fault and in particular a certain VIP. But since the formal mandate was not to do so, a very tight rope walk was taken. The short time frame of three days also didn’t particularly help matters,” Sanghi wrote.

Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai is questioning why Sanghi is writing to Union Home Secretary. "We have formed an inquiry commission. Anyone with complaints should approach the commission.”

In his letter dated December 28, 2015, Sanghi also requested for Central deputation and closing the cases initiated against him by the Anti-Corruption Branch.

Government sources say that ever since Sanghi had been booked by the ACB which reports to the Lt Governor, the bureaucrat wanted to extricate himself from being caught in the crossfire between Centre and Delhi government. Sources say therefore the "complaint" to the Home Ministry and the plea for deportation to Centre.

The BJP lost no time, in hitting out at the Delhi government. Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta alleged that lawyer Rahul Mehra, a member of the probe panel, had put pressure on Sanghi to name Arun Jaitley. Mehra, a senior standing counsel with Delhi government, outrightly denied the charges, calling the allegations of both the BJP and Sanghi baseless and politically motivated.

After serving as the Chief Secretary in Puducherry, Sanghi was transferred to the Delhi government as Principal Secretary Urban Development with additional charge of Public Works, Industries and Vigilance departments.

DDCA files defamation cases against Kejriwal, Azad

The DDCA last week filed defamation suits in Delhi High Court against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and BJP MP Kirti Azad for allegedly making defamatory remarks against it regarding its functioning and finances.

“We (DDCA) have filed civil defamation suits against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Kirti Azad seeking Rs. 2.5 crore as damages from each of them for their defamatory remarks against us,” DDCA treasurer Ravinder Manchanda told PTI.

Advocate Sangram Patnaik also confirmed that the defamation suits have been filed seeking Rs. 2.5 crore damages against both of them.

He further said that the allegations against Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) regarding financial irregularities and corruption in selections at the junior level were “maligning the image” of the cricket body.

Kejriwal and five others of his party have already been dragged to the high court by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for issuing allegedly false and defamatory statements against him and his family members.

Mr. Jaitley has sought damages of Rs. 10 crore from them.

Apart from this, the six Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders are also facing a criminal defamation case filed against them in the trial court by the minister.

After the Centre declared the Delhi government's Commission of Inquiry into DDCA affairs "unconstitutional and illegal", Delhi Chief Minister snapped back via Twitter, saying this decision is not binding on him and the Commission will continue work.

"Unconstitutional, illegal"

"Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has accordingly held that the notification.....issued by the Directorate of Vigilance, Government of NCT of Delhi, is unconstitutional, illegal and therefore has no legal effect," said a letter issued by Delhi LG's office on Thursday.

The rejection of the Delhi government's decision to probe the affairs of Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) comes on top of a bitter fight between the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government and the Centre after the raid on the Delhi Secretariat a month ago.

Arun Jaitely and Arvind Kejriwal. IBNLive

Arun Jaitely and Arvind Kejriwal. IBNLive

The raid had stoked a clash between the two with Kejriwal alleging that it was meant to seize some files purportedly containing details of alleged corruption in DDCA when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was its president between 1999 and 2013.

Kejriwal followed up his charge by his government decision to constitute a probe under the Commission of Inquiry Act headed by former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, who has contended that Delhi government has the authority to constitute such a probe which he would go ahead with.

As the fight continued, the Central government on Wednesday sent a communication that "the elected Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi is neither the Central Government nor the State Government within the meaning of Section 2 and 3 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952. Therefore, it has no jurisdiction or power to set up a Commission of Inquiry under the said Act."

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs came to the conclusion after considering the provisions in Art 239 and 239 AA and read with provisions of General Clauses Act including the Government of India notification of August 1966.

The communication, which was sent to LG, said, "The council of Ministers (Delhi Government) may please be apprised accordingly, and all concerned be advised to act in conformity with the above decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India."

The AAP government had on 22 December issued a notification to set up a Commission of Inquiry to probe alleged financial irregularities in the DDCA.

With Agencies

Updated Date: Jan 12, 2016 12:01 PM

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