Now, CBI lodges FIR against Manish Sisodia in Delhi govt snooping case
Already arrested by the CBI in the excise policy case and at present in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate, Sisodia's woes aggravated after the agency registered a fresh case on Tuesday.
NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered another case against former Delhi Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and seven others in connection with the Delhi government's Feedback Unit (FBU) which was allegedly used for snooping and collecting political intelligence.
The CBI — in its FIR dated March 14 — booked Sisodia, Sukesh Kumar Jain, former Sectary of Vigilance in Delhi government, retired CISF DIG Rakesh Kumar Sinha who was working as special advisor to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Joint Director (FBU).
Besides, the agency also booked former joint deputy director of Intelligence Bureau and Deputy Director (FBU) Pradeep Kumar' Punj, retired assistant commandant of CISF and (FBU) officer Satish Khetrapal and Gopal Mohan, advisor, anti-corruption, to Kejriwal.
According to the FIR, the accused have been booked for criminal conspiracy, dishonest misappropriation of property, criminal breach of trust by a public servant, forgery for purpose of cheating, Using as genuine a forged document which is known to be forged, falsification of accounts and criminal misconduct by a public servant.
The FIR comes in the wake of clearance granted by the Union Home Ministry to file a case against those who were involved in the formation and operations of the FBU, set up by the AAP government in 2015 and was allegedly used for spying and collecting political intelligence.
The Feedback Unit was set by the AAP party to gather relevant information and actionable feedback regarding the working of the various bodies under the jurisdiction of the Delhi Government and to do "trap cases" to check corruption, the FIR alleged.
The unit started in 2016 with a provision of Rs 1 crore for secret service expenditure, the CBI FIR, registered on Tuesday and made public on Thursday, said.
The Delhi government has also been accused of misappropriating funds allocated for the project, it was alleged.
In a letter dated Feb 17, the MHA had given its consent to India's premier investigation agency to register a case under Section 17 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and initiate the process of investigation into the matter.
The sanction to prosecute comes following the approval given by the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) of Delhi VK Saxena, earlier this month on a request note of CBI seeking his consent to file an FIR against Sisodia and others as there was prima facie evidence to prosecute them for illegal setting up and running the snooping unit to spy on political rivals and government officials.
Giving a go-ahead to the CBI, Saxena noted that: "I am of the considered view that the case requires to be further investigated by CBI deeply, after registering a regular case. I, therefore, approve the proposal of the Directorate of Vigilance to forward the request of CBI in respect of Manish Sisodia, Dy Chief Minister, Delhi to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, the Competent authority to consider granting approval for ‘Investigation’ under Sec 17A."
The CBI, in its letter seeking the L-G's nod, has alleged that the AAP government had created a "Secret Service Fund" and engaged a detective agency namely Silver Shield Detectives.
The agency has alleged that, “A provision of Rs 1 crore was kept for ‘Secret Service Expenditure’ for operationalisation of the FBU and it has come to light that the vouchers used to draw money from this fund were fabricated.”
The agency further said that part of the fund was handled by Gopal Mohan, advisor, Anti-Corruption to the Chief Minister.
Terming the operation as 'snoopgate', the Delhi BJP slammed the AAP government and claimed that the FBU was used to snoop on MPs, MLAs, state and central government officials and even the judges.
The CBI informed the LG that 60 per cent of the reports generated by the feedback unit pertained to matters relating to the vigilance department, while 40 per cent were about "political intelligence."
According to the CBI, the FBU started functioning in Feb 2016 and was manned by around 17 contractual employees most of whom were retired officials of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the central paramilitary forces.
The agency noted, "No approval was taken before the creation of posts for the FBU or for the recruitment made thereto from the LG Delhi, who is the competent authority under law to create all categories of posts in the Government of NCT of Delhi."
The CBI in its note to the L-G also observed that although the department and the positions were created under the Vigilance department, the team was directly reporting to Sisodia which was against the functioning norms.