This Article is From Dec 31, 2015

Dear Arun Jaitley, Time To Resign

The DDCA scam is a prime example of how brazen the BJP can be. The BJP, which regularly put the Congress and its ministers on the mat on corruption-related issues, is now shying away from having their leaders be accountable. There are very serious allegations against Mr Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister of the country and still the patron-in-chief of the DDCA, but not once has the BJP said that the allegations against him should be investigated by a neutral agency; it is busy instead giving him a clean chit. They are hiding behind the report on the DDCA of the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) which is again a half-truth.

The report was submitted recently and the BJP says it has not indicted Mr Jaitley or mentioned him even once - but the party hides two facts from the public domain: this report was only for 2012-13 and not for 1999 to 2013 when Mr Jaitley was President of the DDCA. Secondly, the SFIO report has indicted the DDCA on 62 counts which highlights the seriousness of the corruption. The BJP has blatantly been ignoring the DDCA fact-finding report and another scathing report by two judges. Mr Jaitley and his party have been saying that he was the Non-Executive President of the DDCA and was not involved in the organisation's day-to-day activities. But the new facts, which I have produced before the media, clearly establish that not only was he directly involved in every matter and did not take actions against the guilty but was also involved in an attempted cover-up of corruption by DDCA officials.

The matter relates to the Syndicate Bank Club. There was an illegal attempt to usurp this club by a few senior DDCA officials by fraudulently trying to convert an institutional club into a private club. A complaint was made to the police in 2010. The Delhi Police initiated an investigation. On October 27 2011, Mr Jaitley wrote a letter to Delhi Police Commissioner BK Gupta, asking him to close the matter as the DDCA had done no wrong. Apparently, this letter cut no ice with the Police Commissioner. After a few months, another letter lands up at the table of the Special Commissioner, Ranjit Narain, who was supervising the investigation in this matter. This letter was written on May 5, 2012 and was again written by Mr Jaitley. In this letter, Mr Jaitley complains about DDCA officials being questioned and says that this questioning was harassment. Then he concludes that the matter be closed as no wrong was done by the DDCA.

This letter was a serious interference in an ongoing investigation and was an attempt to pressure police officials to close the matter which is an offence in the eyes of the law. But Arun Jaitley is not an ordinary person. When he wrote that letter, he was Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, which is a constitutional position. Mr Jaitley had been a member of the parliament for long. He was also Law Minister in the Vajpayee government. Before that, he had served as Solicitor General when VP Singh was Prime Minister and his party was supporting the government from the outside from 1989 to 1991. He is also an eminent lawyer who commands respect for his legal knowledge. A person of such repute knows very well what he was doing when he was writing those letters. He can't pretend to be ignorant of the law.

The entire country knows that Mr Jaitley has been a very powerful man in Indian politics for the last two decades. It's immaterial whether he is in government or not. He and his words carry a lot of weight. To close an investigation is not a right which Mr Jaitley can exercise despite holding a constitutional position. That prerogative lies with investigative agencies and courts have to endorse their action. So when he suggested to the Delhi police that they close the matter, he was basically asking them not to investigate any further and give a clean chit to all those who had indulged in corrupt practices- which is, of course, criminal.

As Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, a post of cabinet rank, he is duty-bound to protect the law and if he is willingly doing something which can be construed as interference in the execution of the law, then it is far more serious an offence. He can't take refuge in the argument that he was writing those letters as President of the DDCA, not as Leader of the Opposition. I would have appreciated it if he had written to the police asking them to investigate the matter in a free and fair manner and prosecute those who are found guilty, but he did the opposite.

Now the DDCA scam is in the public domain. The CBI has registered a preliminary inquiry. More than two dozen complaints are pending with the Delhi Police in this scam. Mr Jaitley is the Finance Minister. The Delhi Police and the CBI report to his government in the Centre. He tried to scuttle the investigation and save the corrupt in the DDCA when he was in the opposition, so it is easy to guess the fate of the investigation when he is a very powerful minister. One can infer that he is influential enough to not let the matter reach its logical conclusion.

May I remind Mr Jaitley what he had said about Manmohan Singh that Caesar's wife should be above suspicion? Mr Jaitley, why don't you follow what you preached to the then Prime Minister? Resign, Mr Minister!

(Ashutosh joined the Aam Aadmi Party in January 2014.)

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