Home Ministry seeks report from Delhi govt on PWD minister

Last Updated: Sunday, May 1, 2011 - 20:05

New Delhi: In more trouble for Delhi PWD
Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan, Union Home Ministry has directed
city government to file a detailed report about his alleged
involvement in protecting a leading resort in a tax evasion
case for which the Lokayukta had recommended his removal.

The Home Ministry`s direction to the Delhi Government
came nearly two months after the Lokayukta Justice Manmohan
Sarin, in an unprecedented order, had recommended to President
Pratibha Patil to "withdraw her pleasure" for the Minister to
continue in office as he "misused" his official position and
indicted him for misconduct of "grave nature".

While the decision about Chauhan`s fate lies with the
President, who has three months to decide on the issue, top
sources in the city government said a detailed report on the
issue would be sent to the Home Ministry within a couple of
days.

"We have received a communication from the Home
Ministry on the Lokayukta order against Raj Kumar Chauhan.
"A detailed report is being sent," top sources in
Delhi Government said.

The communication from the Home Ministry, officials
said, is part of the decision making process by the President
which is expected to be completed by the end of May.

Justice Sarin`s order in late February had come in a
case pertaining to Chauhan`s alleged involvement in
influencing a team of tax officials when they were carrying
out a survey at the premises of Tivoli Garden resort in South
Delhi in February last year.

The opposition BJP has been pressing for Chauhan`s
removal since issuance of the order by the Lokayukta and had
even targeted Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for not sacking
him.

Chauhan, who represents Mangopuri Assembly
constituency in Outer Delhi, is considered close to Dikshit
and was given the Urban Development portfolio in the recent
reshuffle of the Cabinet even as he was facing criticism for
alleged irregularities in certain CWG projects implemented by
his Public Works Department.

The CBI yesterday registered a case against some
officials of the Public Works Department (PWD) and a few firms
in connection with alleged irregularities in the project for
construction of the Rs 620 crore Barapullah Nullah flyover for
the Commonwealth Games.

The Lokayukta order had said that "the Minister made a
telephone call to the Commissioner of Trade of Taxes in the
evening of February 20 last year when a team of tax officials
were carrying search and survey at the premises of Tivoli
Garden Resort to unearth huge evasion of taxes and concealment
of income."

The Lokayukta had also recommended initiation of
proceedings against the Minister in accordance with law.

The tax officials had conducted survey at various
resorts and banquet halls in February last year as per an
instruction by then Finance Minister A K Walia following
reports that they are indulging in large-scale tax evasion by
way of under-reporting their annual turnover.

In his defence, Chauhan said as public
representative, he gets lots of calls from people requesting
for favours and he only responded to such a call.

Following the Lokayukta order, Dikshit had attacked
the Lokayukta and even said that there was a need to look into
the functioning of the body and to make it "more transparent"
and "just".

In an apparent criticism of Dikshit`s remarks, the
Lokayukta had demanded more teeth to probe graft cases against
public functionaries and asked the Chief Minister to view the
institution as an "aid" for probity in governance rather than
an obstacle.

As Lokayukta`s orders are recommendatory in nature,
Chauhan`s fate is now dependent on the President`s decision.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, May 1, 2011 - 20:05

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