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Where to lodge complaints on corruption in Delhi?

Where to lodge complaints on corruption in Delhi?
Highlights

Complaining against bribery should be an easy and known process. A citizen should not struggle to know this information. But unfortunately even after...

One head constable (HC) demanded a bribe of Rs 20,000; the victim could not pay more than Rs 10,000. When due was insisted on being paid, the victim approached the ACB, which trapped HC and arrested him. In his bail application, HC challenged before Delhi High Court the jurisdictional authority of ACB to investigate charges against a police constable who belonged to Union Home Ministry.

The Delhi High Court held that ACB has power to investigate, but the apex court stayed the operation of the judgment. Whether a courageous citizen should report bribery or wait for final judicial verdict? Does the government want its citizens to be vibrant fighters of corruption or remain dormant victims of bribery as the jurisdictional issues are pending final decision in three Estates – Legislature, Executive and Judiciary?

Complaining against bribery should be an easy and known process. A citizen should not struggle to know this information. But unfortunately even after filing RTI, a citizen did not get it. He was compelled to knock on the doors of CIC. It is the duty of Delhi Chief Minister or his deputy, Lt Governor and the Union Home Minister to tell the citizens, together or separately, as to where he has to complain against corrupt officers. It is unfortunate that instead of fighting corruption, the governments are fighting each other about who has power to fight corruption.

V K Garg, an advocate, sought from the Directorate of Vigilance, ACB and Department of Law, GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi), 20 points of information about jurisdiction of the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Though he wanted copies of Office Memorandums, Rules Regulations about powers and functions, orders regarding the same, procedures, along with file notings and linked documents, powers of the Lt Governor, Union Home Minister, Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister in taking decisions regarding ACB, etc, he was in fact asking to know where to file complaints against corruption in Delhi.

Except Recruitment Rules for Rs 38, nothing was offered to know. Officers said “no such information is available in ACB.” Garg filed three complaints before the CIC. The PIOs of ACB and DoV took strain to cull out some answers, given the complexity, confusion and jurisdictional limitations. When top Constitutional authorities like Lt Governor, Delhi CM and the Union Government approached Courts to know their powers, a citizen cannot expect a PIO to give a clear picture under the RTI Act.

In fact, complaints are requests for the information as the appellant and all citizens have a right to information about fighting corruption. Applicant being an advocate is expected to be well aware of the controversy about the jurisdiction and powers regarding ACB of GNCTD vis-à-vis Union of India; Delhi being a Union Territory. Because of ambiguity and confusion between powers of GNCTD and Centre, CIC found a genuine need for clarification.

RTI Act gives a very limited right of seeking copies of documents containing information as held or controlled by a public authority. When GNCTD and Union are parties before the judiciary to know the limits or extent of their power to investigate corruption charges, none can expect ‘information’ in the form of interpretation and judgment from PIO or the head of public authority through an application under RTI by paying Rs 10.

Neither PIO, nor First Appellate Authority nor even the Information Commission can decide on this complex issue of Constitutional interpretation in the wake of GOs, Notifications, OMs etc which are now under consideration by the courts.

The appellant ought to have known that on May 25, 2015, the Delhi High Court gave a judgment criticising notification of Ministry of Home Affairs giving more powers to Lt Governor explaining the commitment of Union Government to fighting corruption and that the Honorable Supreme Court by admitting the SLP filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs and granting stay on Delhi High Court judgment on May 29, 2015, has been seized of the matter.

The Chief Minister of Delhi reportedly said: “Forty years ago, the Anti-Corruption Bureau had come up in Delhi, its jurisdiction was over officials of all agencies based in Delhi, be it of the Union Government, DDA, Police, MCD, the ACB could probe instances of corruption of all these bodies…… Last year when our 49-day government was formed, we had filed a case against a big person of this country. After our government quit, the Centre issued an order restricting the ACB to Delhi government officials only…..It said the ACB won't look after the corruption of Union government officials, police and NDMC.

Today, Delhi HC ordered that the Centre and MHA have no rights to interfere in the matters of ACB. Media also reported: The gazette notification dated May 21 by the Home Ministry had said the LG will have jurisdictions over matters connected with services, public order, police and land and he may consult with the Chief Minister whenever he thinks necessary on issues of services using his (LG’s) own "discretion".

The disclosure made under Section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act, by Delhi Government in website: delhigovt.nic.in/upload/rti_manual/217-1.doc) does not appear to have sufficiently answered the information needs of the applicant as it was made before certain GOs amending the existing norms of jurisdiction.

The public authority has a duty to inform the citizen where to complain against corruption and which has proper authority to receive and act on such complaint so that people can question widespread corruption in different public departments. Undoubtedly, the information sought from the Lt Governor, Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and Union Home Minister is such that it should have been disclosed under Section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act, 2005, and as both the political Governments in Union of India and GNCTD have made categorical commitments to fight corruption, it is their duty to inform in general as part of administrative law, and statutory obligation of under Right to Information Act in particular, where the citizen needs to complain against corruption.

Ambiguity in the process of complaining and about who has power or jurisdiction to investigate complaints against bribery will directly facilitate it and discourage complaints against corruption.The situation on hand is an example; one head constable (HC) demanded a bribe of Rs 20,000; the victim could not pay more than Rs 10,000. When due was insisted on being paid, the victim approached the ACB, which trapped HC and arrested him.

In his bail application, HC challenged before Delhi High Court the jurisdictional authority of ACB to investigate charges against a police constable who belonged to Union Home Ministry. The Delhi High Court held that ACB has power to investigate, but the apex court stayed the operation of the judgment. Whether a courageous citizen should report bribery or wait for final judicial verdict?

Does the government want its citizens to be vibrant fighters of corruption or remain dormant victims of bribery as the jurisdictional issues are pending final decision in three Estates – Legislature, Executive and Judiciary? Governments have a duty. If this situation continues, the honest people, investigating police officers, who risk their life and career to catch hold culprits of bribery, will be demoralised and citizens will be discouraged from complaining, leaving the entire field for corrupt public servants.

The Commission hoped and believed that no government would apparently approve such an ambiguous anti-corruption regime to prevail and want its citizen to be courageous complainants. PIOs have reasonable causes to respond in such a manner and also understand the helplessness of the department of law in not responding to this complex issue, especially when the executives both State (UT) and Center themselves are expecting to be enlightened by Judiciary about fighting corruption. Part of the information sought by the appellant is available in the form of judgment of Hon’ble Delhi High Court, Anil Kumar v GNCTD, 25th May 2015.

Recognising the need of the citizens to know where to complain against the bribery, the Commission directed: “the office of Honourable Lt Governor, GNCTD, the office of the Chief Minister GNCTD/the office of the Deputy Chief Minister, and the office of the Union Minister for Home Affairs, New Delhi, to provide the necessary information in the form of FAQs based on the current status of the powers, rules, regulations and procedure regarding anti-corruption complaints,

in response to points raised by the applicant as part of their duty under Section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act, 2005 within two months.” (Based on decision on 29.2.2016, Vivek Garg Vs. Directorate of Vigilance & Department of Law, GNCTD, CIC/SA/C/2015/000238, www.rti.india.gov.in/cic.../CIC_SA_C_2015_000238_M_180206.pdf)

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