Delhi HC Stayed Proceedings Against DCW Head Swati Maliwal In Illegal Appointment Case

Delhi HC Stayed Proceedings Against DCW Head Swati Maliwal In Illegal Appointment Case

The Delhi High Court on Friday stayed proceedings against Swati Maliwal, Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), in a case involving alleged illegal appointments of her acquaintances, including Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders, to the DCW.

According to Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani, the essential ingredient of an offence under Section 13(1)(d)ii of the Prevention of Corruption Act was not made out in the chargesheet or the order framing charges in the case.

“This Court is persuaded that the essential ingredient of an offence under 13(1)(d)(ii) PC Act is clearly missing from the chargesheet and order on charges, necessitating further review. As a result of the foregoing, further proceedings are stayed until the next date of hearing before this Court. List on July 26, 2023,” Justice Bhambhani stated.

The said provision makes it an offence for a person to abuse their position as a public servant in order to obtain any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage for themselves or for any other person.

The respondents were served with notice in the matter and given six weeks to file a status report, with any replies due within four weeks.

Senior Advocate Rebecca John, who represented Maliwal before the High Court, stated that the DCW members included lawyers with experience monitoring rape trials. Furthermore, the appointments were made on a short-term contractual basis, and the prosecution did not allege that the appointees did not work and only collected salaries.

It was pointed out that the complainant was a former DCW Chairperson who belonged to a different political party.

According to John, the allegations that the DCW’s budget was sanctioned in one go rather than in installments were not pressed in the chargesheet. In addition, the number of alleged illegal appointments in the case had been reduced from 87 to 20.

It was pointed out that the respondents had not seized the AAP’s membership register as part of their investigation.

It was emphasised that the prosecution had only relied on hearsay evidence based on the cross-examination of a constable to show the appointees’ alleged association with the party.

Maliwal had challenged a Rouse Avenue Court ruling framed corruption charges against her and three others on December 8, 2022.

Special Judge Dig Vinay Singh noted in his order that there was a ‘strong suspicion’ against Maliwal, Promila Gupta, Sarika Chaudhary, and Farheen Malick, and that the facts revealed ‘prima facie sufficient material’.

The court issued criminal conspiracy charges under the IPC and criminal misconduct by a public servant charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).

“Being an autonomous body receiving government funds, neither posts could have been created on whims and fancies, nor could recruitment of close relatives have been made in violation of all rules. Promoting the interests of family and friends, as revealed by the facts of this case, is also a form of corruption,” the order had stated.

The initial complaint against Maliwal and others was filed with the Anti-Corruption Branch by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former DCW Chairperson Barkha Shukla Singh (ACB).

The prosecution claimed that the four accused conspired to abuse their official positions and obtain financial benefits for AAP workers and acquaintances.

It was claimed that such employees and acquaintances were appointed to various DCW positions without following the proper procedure.

It was argued that between August 6, 2015 and August 1, 2016, a total of 90 appointments were made in the DCW, with 71 people appointed on a contractual basis and 16 people appointed for ‘Dial 181’.

However, no record of the remaining three appointees’ appointments could be found.

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