Delhi's Watergate Redux: CBI To Probe Political Espionage Allegations Against AAP's Sisodia

Delhi's Watergate Redux: CBI To Probe Political Espionage Allegations Against AAP's Sisodia

by Swarajya Staff - Wednesday, February 22, 2023 01:02 PM IST
Delhi's Watergate Redux: CBI To Probe Political Espionage Allegations Against AAP's SisodiaDelhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia (@Pinging18/Twitter)

In a fresh twist to the ongoing legal troubles of Delhi's Deputy Chief Ministe, Manish Sisodia, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has granted the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the go-ahead to investigate the allegations of snooping on political opponents through a Delhi government department.

The Delhi Lieutenant Governor's office was informed by the MHA that sanction has been granted to prosecute Sisodia under Section 17 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (powers to police for investigating a public servant).

The move comes after the CBI said it found, during its preliminary inquiry, that the Feedback Unit (FBU), set up by the Delhi government, was used to collect “political intelligence”. The agency recommended that an FIR be registered against Sisodia.

The agency claimed that the Feedback Unit was misused by the public servants concerned for a purpose other than the one for which it was manifestly created.

The proposal for setting up an FBU was moved by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a 2015 Cabinet meeting without circulating an agenda note. The CBI further claimed that no sanction was obtained from the Lieutenant Governor for appointments in the FBU, in violation to the established norms.

The CBI also alleged that the FBU was functioning for some “hidden purpose” which was not in the interest of the GNCTD but “private interest of the Aam Aadmi Party and Manish Sisodia”, who played an active role in the creation of the unit, 'flouting' the established rules of GNCTD and MHA in connivance with Sukesh Kumar Jain, the then vigilance secretary.

The AAP dispensation had proposed setting up the FBU in 2015 to gather relevant information and actionable feedback regarding the working of various departments and autonomous bodies, institutions, and entities falling under the jurisdiction of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) and to do “trap cases”. The unit started functioning in 2016 with a provision of Rs 1 crore for secret service expenditure.

The CBI has alleged that the Feedback Unit collected political intelligence and information on political opponents.

The alleged spying scandal has drawn comparisons to the Watergate scandal that rocked American politics in the 1970s, which involved President Richard Nixon's administration's illegal surveillance of political opponents. The similarities between the two cases lie in the use of political power to gain an unfair advantage, undermining democratic processes and violating ethical standards.

Sisodia has already been facing a CBI case for alleged favours extended to liquor traders in the formulation of the now-scrapped Delhi Excise policy of 2021-22. He is to appear before the probe agency on February 26. With the latest case against him, Sisodia's legal troubles seem to be mounting.

(with inputs from PTI)

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