The Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of the Delhi government is not empowered to investigate the offences of central government employees under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Supreme Court said Thursday.
The top court upheld the validity of notifications dated July 23, 2014 and May 21, 2015 of the Centre which had taken away the power of the city government's ACB to prosecute officials of the central government.
On the issue of jurisdiction and power of the ACB, a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said that public order, police and land do not fall under Delhi government's legislative and executive domain.
"In respect of 'Police', National Capital Territory of Delhi does not have either legislative or executive power. This court is required to look into the substance of such an exclusion and cannot be guided by hyper technicalities ... Therefore, what has been specifically denied to GNCTD, it cannot venture to gain that power on such a plea," it said.
"The only effect is that the ACB is not empowered to investigate into the offences of Central government employees under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Admittedly, this investigation is carried out by the CBI. Therefore, it obviates the duality and conflict of jurisdiction as well," it held.
The top court refused to agree with the submission of the Delhi government that the notifications issued by the Centre "create a class of offenders immune from the jurisdiction of ACB, even though they are accused of committing the same offence as other public servants and in the same territory".
The Centre had argued that there was no illegality in the notifications issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which gave absolute powers to the Lieutenant Governor to appoint bureaucrats in the national capital and confined the ACB's jurisdiction to Delhi government officials.
The bench agreed that the Centre should have the final word on posting and transfer of bureaucrats in the national capital administration, but their disagreement on finer details resulted in a split verdict and the matter was referred to a larger bench.
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