The Delhi High Court on Monday said that the Anti-Corruption Branch of the Delhi Government can conduct a probe when there is a complaint concerning allegations of corruption against city police officials who fall under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Justice Jasmeet Singh stated that when a complaint is made to any authority in charge, it is its duty and right to investigate the same at the time of lodging of the complaint and it may after due diligence, transfer the matter to the concerned authority to look into the same.
The court was dealing with a petition by a Delhi police sub-inspector who challenged the framing of charges against him under the anti-corruption law by the trial court on the ground that the Anti-Corruption Branch cannot investigate the offences pertaining to central government employees and any action taken by it would be impermissible and contrary to law.
In the present case, the complainant had made a written complaint to the Anti-Corruption branch that the petitioner had asked him to pay Rs 20,000 as a bribe for sending his report for the grant of Arms licence to him, and subsequently, an FIR was registered against him.
The petitioner also contended that since he has been exonerated in the disciplinary enquiry, he cannot be convicted in the criminal proceedings when the disciplinary proceedings and the FIR were a mirror image of each other.
The court said that the petitioner's argument that the Anti-Corruption Branch would not have jurisdiction to investigate his case based on a complaint cannot be sustained.
“In this view of the matter, I am unable to agree with the learned counsel for the petitioner... that as the petitioner is a Sub-Inspector in Delhi Police, the Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi Government can have no jurisdiction to investigate the offence against the Sub Inspector working in Delhi Police which falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs,” the court said.
“Any official of the Central government accused of corruption cannot get away with the mere technicality of the Anti-Corruption Branch not investigating them. When a complaint is made to an authority in charge, it is the duty of that authority to duly investigate and look into the said allegations. They may after due diligence, transfer the matter to the concerned authority to look into the same but they have the right to investigate the same at the time of lodging of the complaint,” the court stated.
The court referred to an earlier order passed by it in another matter and quoted "the ACB of the GNCTD has the jurisdiction to entertain and act on a complaint under the PC (Prevention of Corruption) Act in respect of a Delhi Police officer or official and to investigate and prosecute the crime".
The court however granted relief to the petitioner in the present case and set aside the charges against him as well as the subsequent proceedings on the ground that he stood exonerated on merits in departmental proceedings which were a mirror image of criminal proceedings.
The court said that there was no substantial material on record to show the need to continue the criminal proceedings against the petitioner.
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