ACB REOPENS ’02 CNG FITNESS SCAM OF RS100 CR
Following the directions of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Government’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) has decided to “reinvestigate” the alleged 2002 CNG fitness scam of Rs100 crore in which several top officials, including former Secretary (Transport) R Chandramohan, who had worked under the erstwhile Sheila Dikshit Government were under scanner.
The issue relates to fitness scam in 2002, which is still under judicial proceeding and this is the case in which Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung himself had gone through the entire matter and reportedly given clean chit to several top officials. So reopening of fitness scam would have twin repercussions. One, it will defy the firm order of the Lieutenant Governor and two, it will send a negative signal among all bureaucrats.
Some of the bureaucrats accused in the case have since retired from service. The question is whether the prosecution authority is the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) or the Lieutenant Governor. The other question is whether the ACB can probe retired officials against whom no departmental enquiry was instituted.
The State Government will have to take permission from Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung for reinvestigating the case. Whether the Lieutenant Governor will sanction reinvestigation into a case he had ordered closure is the big question. This just might renew a fresh round of tussle between Jung and Kejriwal.
“The ACB is reopening the 2002 CNG fitness scam in which top three babus, who had worked under Sheila Dikshit Government, are under scanner,” top Government sources said. They said that ACB had registered a case in 2012 into the alleged 2002 CNG fitness scam, which runs into Rs 100 crore. “During the AAP’s previous 49-day stint, Arvind Kejriwal had said that all documents would be provided to CBI after the probe agency sought documents pertaining to the scam.
“But the case probe got stuck as Kejriwal Government resigned,” they said, adding that since an elected Government is now in place in the Capital, ACB would probe the matter thoroughly. Sources claimed that the probe was stalled due to inability to get permission to question the officials.
The CNG fitness scam came to light in 2012 when ACB officials found that the two companies – ESP India Pvt Ltd and ESP USA – did not have any link with each other and that ESP India was formed in 2006 with ‘dishonest intentions’.
ESP India did not conduct certain tests to check a CNG vehicle’s fitness, which it was required to, but still charged for these tests. After conducting a preliminary enquiry, ACB registered a case on December 17, 2012 under several sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. According to the FIR, the Government lost crores by awarding the contract of operation and maintenance of I&C lanes (Inspection & Certification) at Burari.
So far, four persons have been arrested in connection with the scam. However, a few months ago, Jung had reportedly cleared all the eight officials who were named, stating that after careful consideration of facts and material on record, no case was made out under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The ACB later wrote to Jung, informing him that the documents produced before him were fabricated and that the case needed to be properly investigated. Subsequently, Jung ordered the matter to be closed. However, the ACB said the case could not be closed since the matter was sub-judice and was under investigation.
The Aam Aadmi Party had, in December last year, raked up the issue of the CNG fitness scam of 2002 and attacked the “continuing silence” of the Central Government and Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung on the alleged indictment of top bureaucrats in the city Government by CBI.
During the Assembly polls in 2014, AAP has made an issue of fitness scam case, alleging that Jung had asked the Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi to close the probe involving top bureaucrats of the State Government. The Lieutenant Governor had given clean chit to officials of Delhi Government in this matter. In its 49-day rule, the Arvind Kejriwal Government had set up a Justice (retired) Mukul Mudgal Committee to probe the fitness scam case.