Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG) VK Saxena has refused to consider a report submitted by Vigilance Minister Atishi, alleging "prima facie complicity" of Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar in the Bamnoli land acquisition matter. The LG stated that the report appears to be "completely based" on the minister's preconceived assumptions and presumptions, reported PTI.
Delhi government, in response, urged the LG to "allow an impartial enquiry by CBI into the matter and not prejudge the matter and protect certain individuals because of his fondness for them." The LG, however, expressed concern that the report, endorsed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, could hinder the ongoing investigation rather than facilitate it.
"It is surprising and unfortunate that this report, dealing with sensitive vigilance-related matters, is already in the public domain. Its details have been widely reported in the media, which could potentially hamper the ongoing investigation," the LG noted.
Saxena highlighted the selective leaking of text from the report to the media, questioning the motive of the supposed inquiry and suggesting it aimed to start a media trial and politicise the issue. He emphasised that the matter is already under investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) based on his approval.
The LG criticised the minister's report for allegedly lacking an unbroken chain of evidence and being based on preconceived assumptions. He noted that the CBI investigation, approved by him, is already underway and that the minister's recommendation appears prejudiced and devoid of merit.
Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar, the central figure in the controversy, has denied any wrongdoing, describing the accusations as "mudslinging" by individuals with "vested interests" against whom vigilance action was taken for corruption.
The report submitted by Atishi demands Kumar's suspension and claims that the scale of "undue benefits" in the matter exceeds Rs 897 crore. The LG's dismissal of the report prompted a sharp reaction from the Aam Aadmi Party government, labelling it a "brazen attempt" to protect favoured officers.
Delhi government, in response to the LG's objection regarding referral to the CBI, asserted that the matter is already registered with the CBI, and any citizen with evidence can forward it directly. The government further questioned the LG's stance on Chief Secretary Kumar's son's involvement in beneficiary companies and urged an impartial CBI inquiry.
In a statement, the government said, "If they have done nothing wrong, why is LG obstructing an inquiry against them? In all fairness, all available evidence should be forwarded to CBI to enable them to conduct an impartial enquiry."