Delhi LG approves CBI probe into purchase of DTC buses
The latest squabble between Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Delhi's Lieutenant Governor (LG) VK Saxena erupted after the latter approved an investigation into the Delhi government's purchase of 1,000 low-floor buses. The AAP administration has said that the investigation is politically motivated and that the LG should first clear his name of corruption accusations.
- The AAP and Delhi's LG, who is seen as a representative of the central government, have been locked in a bitter battle over alleged corruption in Delhi's liquor policy.
- In the same matter, the CBI searched Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia's home earlier in August.
- The move comes amid the concerns raised by the opposition over the misuse of probing agencies.
According to NDTV, the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) issued a tender to purchase 1,000 CNG and AC buses in March 2020. Four months later, it floated an Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) tender for the maintenance of these buses. While the government paid Rs. 875 crore for the purchase, Rs. 3,500 crore was paid as AMC for 12 years of maintenance.
The complaint, which was received by LG in June, charges corruption and irregularities in the nomination of Delhi's Transport Minister as Chairman of the committee for the purchase of buses and as a management consultant for the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS). He submitted the matter to Chief Secretary (CS) Naresh Kumar in July for a response from the relevant departments.
In his report, CS said there were serious discrepancies in the tender process. He called it a serious violation of the guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission and general financial rules. The report also said that DIMTS was deliberately made a consultant to cover up irregularities. The report recommended a probe by Central Bureau Investigation (CBI), which has been accepted by the LG.
Last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued the recommendations for a CBI probe in August 2021 based on the findings of the panel appointed by the then-LG. The panel discovered certain flaws in the process that developed as a result of the decision-making process. The LG had referred the matter to the MHA for its consideration.
The Delhi government, while reversing the matter, termed the decision of the LG as politically motivated. "The buses were never bought, tenders were canceled. Delhi needs a more educated LG," AAP said. "There are many serious allegations of corruption against the Lt. Governor. He is conducting such investigations to divert attention from them," the party said.