Delhi govt sends Bamnoli land acquisition report to CBI, ED; seeks probe
New Delhi, Nov 16 (PTI) The Delhi government has sent to the CBI and the ED a report of Vigilance Minister Atishi alleging 'prima facie complicity' of Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar in the Bamnoli land acquisition matter, requesting a probe, government sources said on Thursday.
Kumar has denied any wrongdoing and alleged that 'mudslinging' was being done by people with 'vested interests' against whom vigilance action was taken for corruption.
On Wednesday, the 670-page report of Vigilance Minister Atishi was submitted to Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's office. It has demanded Kumar's suspension and claimed that the scale of 'undue benefits' in the matter was more than Rs 897 crore.
'The report was referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) after the chief minister gave his go ahead,' a source said.
Compensation for 19-acre land in southwest Delhi's Bamnoli village for the NHAI's Dwarka Expressway project was allegedly raised from Rs 41 crore to Rs 353 crore but the report claimed that the 'scale of undue benefits' in the deal was more than Rs 897 crore.
The vigilance minister's report was an outcome of an inquiry into a complaint that alleged that the chief secretary's son was employed by a person, who was a relative of beneficiary landowners in Bamnoli.
The sources said Atishi wrote to the directors of CBI and ED that it was understood that certain aspects related to the matter, including the action of the then southwest Delhi District Magistrate Hemant Kumar in enhancing the land compensation 'exorbitantly', were already referred by the Delhi LG to the CBI.
However, according to the report, the then district magistrate 'may just have executed the unlawful directions of his superiors' and, therefore, the chief secretary's role too should be investigated, the minister pointed to the CBI and the ED in her letters.
The government sources said the vigilance minister mentioned in her letter to the CBI director that after the preliminary investigation, it appeared that in view of the scale of the alleged corruption and 'prima facie' establishment of the 'abuse of authority' by the high-ranking officials, this case should come under the purview of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988.
Reacting to the latest development, sources in the chief secretary's office said the CBI inquiry was already ordered by the Government of India in October on his recommendations as chief vigilance officer of Delhi government.
'There is nothing new in it and it seems they (AAP government) want to take credit for the same. It is a well known fact that whenever any instance of money laundering is observed by CBI, it refers the same to the Enforcement Directorate also,' said a source in the CS office.
The sources in the CS office also alleged that every attempt was being made for his (Kumar's) removal since his reports paved way for exposures of 'several scams' like those related to excise policy, power sector and construction of chief minister's residence.
In her letter to the ED director, Atishi said that according to inquiry report, it was learnt that the land was purchased by the beneficiaries at only seven per cent of the circle rate in 2015, and there is a likelihood that the remaining 93 per cent payment may have been done in cash, the government sources said.
It appears that the 'exorbitant' award of land compensation is not only a case of corruption but might also involve money laundering making it a case fit for investigation by the ED, she said in her letter to the ED chief.
Atishi in her letter said, 'The Chief Minister has directed me to send a copy of the preliminary report to you with a request that the case be registered by ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 against those involved in the alleged illegal transactions.' Meanwhile, talking to reporters on the sidelines of an event, Atishi said the AAP government maintains zero tolerance towards corruption of any type.
'As soon as the matter came to the chief minister's knowledge, he immediately ordered an inquiry and the preliminary report has been submitted. Based on the report, strict action will definitely be taken against whoever has done corruption,' she said.
Chief Secretary Kumar had earlier questioned the basis on which the allegations were levelled against him as he took charge of the post only last year while developments related to the land acquisition took place before that.
He had also said that the CBI may probe if there was any 'conspiracy' to malign his image by 'vested interests, including public authorities', against whom action was taken by him in matters of corruption. PTI VIT BUN AS KVK KVK
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