What exactly Delhi snooping scandal?, here’s how AAP’s FBU spied on political opponents.

Delhi snooping scandal

On February 17, 2023, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) authorized prosecuting Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia in an alleged Feedback Unit (FBU) snooping scandal. The prosecution has been authorized under section 17 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. 

This comes after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sought permission to charge Sisodia following preliminary findings that the ‘Feedback Unit’ was used to conduct ‘political snooping’ on AAP’s political rivals. The Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi, Vinay Kumar Saxena, approved the CBI’s request to sanction Sisodia’s prosecution.

The seeds for the establishment of an extra-constitutional/extra-judicial body modeled after a private intelligence organization and answerable to a single person were sown at the outset, according to the Delhi LG in his note.

After AAP won the election in Delhi in 2015, the vigilance division’s Feedback Unit was set up to keep the government updated on various activities taking place in multiple ministries, autonomous bodies, and institutions under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government. 

According to reports, the Arvind Kejriwal-led government established a ‘Feedback Unit’ after losing control of the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) in 2015. Later that year, a two-judge Supreme Court bench comprised of justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan ruled that the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, and thus the Centre, would have jurisdiction over Delhi’s anti-corruption bureau.

The Kejriwal government established a Feedback Unit in September 2015, an Extra Constitutional-Extra Judicial Intelligence Agency that became operational in February 2016. The FBU was staffed by 17 contract employees, the majority of whom were former Central Armed Police Forces and Intelligence Bureau officers.

Diversion of funds to spy on AAP’s ‘political opponents’

Interestingly, funds of over Rs 1 crore were allocated to the FBU by Manish Sisodia who also heads the Vigilance Department of the Delhi government to carry out the ‘secret services’.

In 2015, the then LG Najib Jung formed a panel to probe into this FBU. The panel found the FBU was established without the necessary approval of the LG. Following this, LG Jung referred the matter to CBI. 

In its finding, CBI noted that out of Rs 1 crore allocated to FBU for ‘Secret Service Expenditure’, only Rs 50,000 were used. CBI has accused Sisodia of diverting these government funds to carry out espionage against the political opponents of the Aam Aadmi Party, bureaucrats, members of the judiciary, etc.

In its Preliminary Enquiry (PE) report CBI stated that it analyzed reports prepared by the FBU between February 2016 and September 2016 and found that about 40% of the reports were on political intelligence. It stated that vigilance-related reports made up 60% of all reports. According to the CBI, the Feedback Unit’s illegal formation and operation resulted in a loss to the exchequer of about Rs 36 lakh. It is, however, unclear if the FBU is still operational or not.

The CBI claimed in the preliminary inquiry report that using FBU to this extent to gather political intelligence for the AAP or its convener Arvind Kejriwal “can reasonably be interpreted to mean and constitute the obtaining of valuable things or pecuniary advantage, as gathering this information otherwise would have necessarily required spending money.”

‘Feedback Unit was operating in the private interest of AAP’

According to CBI, the FBU was operating for some covert goal that was not in the interest of the Delhi government but rather in the “private interest of the Aam Aadmi Party and Manish Sisodia,” who actively engaged in the unit’s formation.

LG Saxena has given the nod to file a case against Manish Sisodia as he heads the Vigilance Department along with officials and advisers to the government RK Sinha, Pradeep Kumar Punj, Satish Khetrapal, Gopal Mohan, and Sukesh Kumar Jain. These officials were reporting directly to CM Arvind Kejriwal bypassing the Vigilance Department.

AAP’s defense

In a tweet, Manish Sisodia called the action ‘cowardly,’ adding that fabricating evidence to hurt opponents is a sign of weakness and cowards. “Many more allegations will be made against the Aam Aadmi Party as it grows,” tweeted the deputy chief minister of Delhi.

BJP demands Sisodia’s arrest

On Wednesday, the Delhi BJP asked that the CBI immediately arrest Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in connection with the snooping case and look into the involvement of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Virendra Sachdeva, the working president of the Delhi BJP, has called for an investigation into Arvind Kejriwal, the “real accused” in the snooping scandal.

Apart from the snooping scandal, Manish Sisodia is also under the scanner in the liquor policy case wherein cartelization and monopolies were taking place in the liquor trade under the Delhi government’s new liquor policy.

Read Also: In Delhi Civic Body, Mic Ripped Off, Bottles Fly: 10 Points


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