Snooping Scandal Rocks AAP Government In Delhi: CBI Accuses The Party Of Political Espionage

Snooping Scandal Rocks AAP Government In Delhi; CBI Accuses The Party Of Political Espionage

by Swarajya Staff - Friday, February 10, 2023 02:13 PM IST
Snooping Scandal Rocks AAP Government In Delhi; CBI Accuses The Party Of Political EspionageArvind Kejriwal
  • Here's all you need to know about the illegal snooping unit that was created by AAP for "political intelligence gathering".

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of establishing an illegal covert operation unit for political snooping.

Background on the Feedback Unit (FBU):

  • The FBU was created in 2015 by the AAP government after they came to power in Delhi.

  • It was established as a feedback unit tasked with gathering feedback about the working of various departments of the Delhi government and to carry out "trap cases".

  • It started functioning in February 2016 with 17 contractual employees, many of whom were retired officials from the Intelligence Bureau and Central Paramilitary Forces.

  • The FBU was approved by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in October 2015 without a cabinet note.

CBI's Investigation and Findings:

  • The CBI conducted a preliminary inquiry and submitted a report alleging that the FBU was misused for political intelligence gathering.

  • The CBI found that a substantial number of reports submitted by the FBU officials related to political activities of persons, political entities, and political issues, which was beyond the scope of the FBU's functions.

  • The report also held Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and the then Vigilance Secretary Sukesh Kumar Jain to be involved in the misuse of the FBU.

  • The report stated that the FBU was not functioning in the manner approved by the cabinet and was working for the personal interest of the AAP party in power.

  • It is alleged that the FBU was reporting to the Chief Minister and acting like a personal investigative agency of a political party.

Closure of the Feedback Unit (FBU)

  • The operations of the FBU stopped when the Delhi High Court ruled that the Lieutenant Governor was the administrative head of the government.

  • The vigilance secretary sought ex post facto consent from the Lieutenant Governor, Najeeb Jung, in August 2016.

  • In response, Jung ordered the matter to be referred to the CBI due to evidence of improprieties and violations of rules.

  • The former Lieutenant Governor raised concerns over the legality of the FBU, stating that "no state government can put up a counter-IB (Intelligence Bureau) unit like this" and that it was a violation of citizens' right to privacy.

Action by Delhi LG

  • The current Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, V K Saxena, has approved the CBI’s request to file a case against Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and referred it to the President through the Ministry of Home Affairs.

  • The LG has also approved the CBI's request to file a case against senior officials associated with the FBU and sent the recommendation to the Home Ministry.

  • The approval for the prosecution against Vigilance Director Sukesh Kumar Jain will come from the Finance Ministry.

  • The Delhi LG, in his note, stated: That it was clear that the functioning of the FBU was shrouded in secrecy since its creation. the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister had neither the legislative backing nor the authority to establish this covert operation with the purpose of political espionage.

  • According to Saxena, there was a deliberate effort by the state government to create an agency that exceeded its mandate and went against the constitutional framework of governance.

  • He described it as a well-planned attempt to establish a separate, parallel covert organisation with extensive snooping powers without any legislative, judicial, or executive oversight.

What is the BJP's demand?

  • The Delhi BJP staged a protest in the capital on the snooping charges, demanding resignation of Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia over the CBI report.

  • Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva accused the AAP government of forming the FBU to keep an eye on its political opponents, Union ministers, MPs, LG Office, media houses, leading businessmen, and judges.

Response From AAP

  • The AAP has called the charges "bogus".

  • Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted that if "big people are scared of him, it shows he has become equal to Modi."

(With inputs from PTI)

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