In what has been regarded as a retrograde step, the Government of India has significantly curtailed the powers of the Delhi Anti-Corruption Branch. The former Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal had empowered the body to probe central government employees accused of bribery charges.
It appears that the move by the Central government will inevitably have an impact on the ongoing proceedings against the two union petroleum ministers.
The ministers were booked under the 1993 Notification of the ACB which has now been amended by the Union Home Ministry. It was this notification that had been used by the AAP government to book the two ministers earlier this year.
The allegedly gas price fixing is said to have occurred in the KG Basin from where Reliance Industries derive their major supply. It is alleged that this price fixing was unduly favorable to that industry. The previous notification have given the ACB wide powers to probe a range of bribery and corruption related offences, irrespective of who the accused was.
However, the present notification and amendment significantly restricts and curtails such inquiry and investigation of officers and employees of Delhi government, according to joint secretary of Home Ministry, IS Chahal.
The move has disappointed anti corruption activists who argue that it will have a negative and retrograde impact as those making complaints, who would be prevented from registering complaints of corruption against the Delhi Police or the Delhi Development Authority, instead the people will have to approach the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The Additional Commissioner of Police, V. Renganathan, has refused to comment on the recent moves, stating that the matter was ‘sub-judice”. Renganathan is also the head of the Anti Corruption Branch.