Let Sheila Dikshit defend herself in graft case: AAP govt to HC

AAP government moved Delhi High Court to withdraw appeal of previous Congress dispensation against lower court order to register FIR against former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in corruption case.

New Delhi: The AAP-led government on Friday moved the Delhi High Court to withdraw the appeal of previous Congress dispensation against a lower court order to register an FIR against former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in a corruption case.
Highlighting its stand against corruption, the government, in its plea, said the cabinet`s decision to take back the appeal, filed by the previous Congress government, has been approved by the Lt Governor and Dikshit will have to defend herself as she is no more the Chief Minister and consequently, it lacked the "locus" standi to fight for her.

"The appeal was filed by the petitioner, i.E the `state` on the premise that it had the locus (standi) to defend the alleged accused person who was the then sitting Chief Minister of Delhi.

"In view of changed circumstances and formation of the new government, the then Chief Minister ceases to hold the post and therefore, the state i.e Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi no longer has the locus to continue the prosecution of the present petition on her behalf," it said.

The government has taken a decision "not to defend any of its functionaries" involved in a corruption case, the plea, which may be taken up for hearing on February 18, said.

"Since the case in question relates to the Prevention of Corruption Act, it has taken a decision not to defend any of its functionaries officers involved in the case. In any event, the impugned order for registration of FIR is against individuals for crimes allegedly committed by them and said persons should defend themselves ....," it said.

The previous government had gone to the High Court in September last year against a lower court order to register an FIR against Dikshit on a complaint of BJP leader Vijender Gupta alleging her administration misused public funds to the tune Rs 22.56 crore in an advertisement campaign ahead of 2008 assembly polls. The order was stayed by the High Court.

Taking a U-turn, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government said "the Cabinet of the government of NCT has taken a decision to withdraw the decision taken to file an appeal in the High Court to defend former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and others, challenging the order of August 31, 2013 of special judge directing registration of FIR."

The government said the probe against Dikshit and others in the case is "yet to commence" and the role of the state "will be confined to grant/non-grant of sanction" to prosecute.

It has sought the permission to withdraw the petition "in the interest of justice."

A special judge had, on August 31, last year, ordered registration of FIR against Dikshit and others for offences including criminal breach of trust (section 409 IPC), criminal misappropriation of public funds and criminal misconduct under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The order had come on separate complaints filed by BJP leader Vijender Gupta and RTI activist Vivek Garg against Dikshit.

Both of them in their complaints had alleged Dikshit misused government funds to the tune of Rs 22.56 crore in an advertisement campaign ahead of the 2008 assembly polls.

The complainants had said the two status reports filed by Delhi Police on the complaints have wrongly concluded that no offence is made out against Dikshit.

The complaints said in 2007-08, Dikshit was also minister in-charge of information and publicity when the alleged misuse of funds took place.

"It was an election year. A number of government advertisements were published in the form of publications of advertisement in newspaper.

"A large number of hoardings showing pictures of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Sheila Dikshit all over Delhi Metro, bus shelters and also in form of radio jingles, TV spots etc by misusing the government machinery and public funds ... Burdened the state exchequer in carrying out campaign of Congress party for her own political gains," one of the complaints had said.

The BJP leader had said he had filed a complaint before Delhi Lokayukta Justice Manmohan Sarin who had recommended to President Pranab Mukherjee to caution Dikshit for alleged misuse of funds and to `advise` her to reimburse either herself or through her party a sum of Rs 11 crore as half the cost of the advertisements in 2008.