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A free and a fair probe needed

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A free and a fair probe needed
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The DDCA corruption row has snowballed into a heated political controversy raising questions about the law, good governance and ethics of the political elites.

Former cricketer and BJP lawmaker Kirti Azad has addressed a press conference in Delhi alleging massive financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) targeting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, without taking his name and presenting evidences to prove his statements. Azad who has been campaigning against the alleged corruption in the DDCA claimed that Jaitley was the president of the organization when the financial bungling took place. Jaitley rubbished the charges against him as ‘baseless’ and ‘wrong’. While the senior leaders of the Congress party, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are in the midst of the ‘National Herald’ case, the CBI has launched a probe against Rajendra Kumar, the Principal Secretary of AAP government in Delhi for an alleged scam. The raid in Chief Minister Kejriwal’s office without his knowledge had led to sharp reactions from the CM and his party. The BJP alleges that Jaitley was being targeted in order to ‘deflect attention’ from the allegations faced by the AAP and the Congress. Union Ministers M. Venkaiah Naidu, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Smriti Irani have backed Jaitley. The fact that Azad had gone public with his allegations against the Finance Minister despite being intimated by BJP president Amit Shah is relevant. The financial irregularities are alleged to have happened when Jaitley was the president of DDCA between 1999 and 2013. Former cricket stars like Bishen Singh, Madan Lal and Kirti Azad had filed a complaint in the Prime Minister’s office one year ago. When there was no response, they approached the Delhi government who ordered an investigation into the matter. Kejriwal alleges that the CBI raided his office for seizing the reports of the inquiry commission that had probed the affairs of the DDCA on his instructions.

Even though Kejriwal targets political gains, it might seem true for many. The allegations aren’t trivial as well. Ferozeshah Kotla ground was renovated at Rs 114 crore when the contract given was of 24 crore initially. The DDCA allegedly gave contracts to fake companies paying them crores of rupees in cash and fudged the audit of accounts. Documents related to the contracts weren’t safely kept and there were irregularities in the construction of corporate offices. The nine companies that acquired the contracts had different names under the same address. So goes the findings of the different inquiry committees. Even though Jaitley was the president then, he wasn’t reportedly involved in the mundane activities of the organisation. The fact that he isn’t into corruption might also be true. But according to the reports of SFIO, an agency that probes major financial irregularities, DDCA’s internal committee and the committee entrusted by the Delhi High Court to supervise the DDCA elections, the alleged financial bungling occurred during Jaitley’s stint at the organization and therefore he had the moral responsibility. Kirti Azad demanded registering a case against Jaitley. A free and fair probe is essential not just for finding the culprits but also to establish the innocence claimed by those like Jaitley. And it should be in a way that proves the credibility and its independent nature. The Delhi government has announced an investigation. Whoever probes the case, given that all the systems and agencies that come under the portfolio handled by Jaitley would be required to take part in the inquiry process, the irony of him heading the portfolio is being questioned. Those who raise the charges might have political goals. But when the credibility of governance and those governing the country are at stake, citing it as obstacles would only lead to more skepticism.

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