The Delhi High Court on Monday ruled that the city government's Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) has the "jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute" Delhi Police officials, and dismissed the bail plea of a head constable arrested by it on corruption charges.
Justice Vipin Sanghi denied bail to Anil Kumar, who was head constable at Sonia Vihar's police station and arrested earlier this month while allegedly extorting money from a scrap dealer in the area.
Anil Kumar's arrest by the ACB set off a turf war between Delhi Police and the city government. While the ACB booked him on corruption charges, city police hit back, registering an FIR of kidnapping him.
Commenting on the latest controversy between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung, where the central government has issued a notification on May 21 giving all power of transfer and postings to the Lt. Governor, the court said: "The executive fiat issued by the union government on May 21, 2015, is also suspect."
The court held the ACB "has jurisdiction" over Delhi Police officials and also questioned the 2014 notification of the union home ministry which allows the ACB to prosecute employees only of the Delhi government but not of the central government. Delhi Police comes under the administrative control of the union home ministry.
"It appears to me that the union government could not have issued the notification dated July 23, 2014, thereby seeking to restrict the executive authority of the GNCTD (Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi) acting through its ACB to act on complaints under the PC Act only in respect of officers and employees of the GNCTD," Justice Sanghi said.
"By an executive fiat, the union government could not have exercised the executive power in respect of a matter falling within the legislative competence of the legislative assembly of the NCT, since the law made by parliament, namely the GNCTD Act, read with Article 239AA put fetters on the executive authority of the president," he said.
Ruling on the bail plea of head constable Anil Kumar, the court said: "Since the applicant is a Delhi Police personnel serving the citizens in the NCTD and the functions of the Delhi Police personnel substantially and essentially relate to the affairs of the GNCTD, in my view, the ACB of the GNCTD has the jurisdiction to entertain and act on a complaint under the PC Act in respect of a Delhi Police officer or official, and to investigate and prosecute the crime."
Denying bail, the court said there are the possibilities of the head constable misusing his official position to threaten or influence the complainant and other prosecution witnesses, or tamper with the evidence.
The ACB said the arrest of Anil Kumar was made after the scrap dealer made a complaint on the anti-corruption helpline 1031 about Anil Kumar demanding Rs.20,000 from him and he managing to pay him half the amount. A case under sections of Prevention of Corruption Act was then registered.
Justice Sanghi said that the Lt. Governor "must act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers" and that the mandate of the people, with whom the sovereign power resides, "must be respected by the Lt. Governor in respect of matters which fall within the domain of the legislative assembly".
"Delhi shall not be administered by the president through the Lt. Governor in respect of matters over which the Legislative Assembly of the NCT has authority to make law," he added.
Reacting to the verdict, a senior government official said: "It is a victory of the people of Delhi. The attempts to curb the powers of the Delhi government have been rebuffed."