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Urban Gardens One Solution to Corruption and Hunger

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Academics and pavement gardeners say growing food in the city can alleviate hunger, shorten the food supply chain, mitigate climate shock and bring previously divided communities together.

Urban agriculture is one way for people to overcome their utter disappointment in the government and become more self-reliant, say urban gardeners and academic experts. And with the cost of living in South Africa rocketing, along with the rising unemployment rate, city dwellers should waste no time in setting up food gardens on their nearest pavement.

From growing food, the next step is sharing it, and from there the apartheid and class-based spatial barriers that still exist today will break down, says Pretoria pavement gardener Djo BaNkuna. He grows bananas, herbs, avocadoes, spinach, beetroot, sweet potatoes and onions in his backyard and on the pavement outside his home, which he and his wife, a social worker, distribute to child-headed and unemployed families in nearby Soshanguve.

“Many of us cannot begin to imagine the hunger that is out there. It makes me cry when I see a young child of five who has not eaten for two days living right here in Soshanguve, close to the mall. There are child-headed households where one girl of 13 years old is raising five children who have to wake up and go to the mall and pick up scraps of food. Our country is in very bad shape,” says BaNkuna.

He became famous in November when metro police officers ordered him to rip out the vegetables he had planted on the pavement outside his home and replace them with flowers or grass, and pay a R1 500 fine. When he refused to do either, BaNkuna was summoned to appear in court, where the case against him was withdrawn.

“I would encourage gardens, although our government is not progressive in that sense. Unfortunately the gospel of Pick ‘n Pay and Shoprite is being drummed up so much that people have lost all sense of reliance on themselves and nature, yet the soil is there to give us food,” he says.

“Once you have an onion and cabbage, all you need is pap. And after that, you will find you don’t need pap, you actually need a potato that you have also planted. The combination of those three is a meal. A lot of people in Soshanguve look at me very strangely when I say I grew this cabbage in my pavement garden. For many of us now, food is in the mall.”

Nourishing the soil

Melissa Britz is the co-creator of Oppieyaart (On the Yard), a backyard medicinal garden focused mostly on indigenous plants that she and partner Lucelle Campbell set up in their backyard in Elsies River on the Cape Flats.

The project has not yet expanded to the pavement but is making and distributing compost to support other urban agriculturalists and improve the fertility of the sandy soil in the area, which is not suitable for growing vegetables. In the backyard are enormous piles of compost made of leaves, used rooibos teabags, grass clippings and vegetable peelings from neighbours. What the Oppiyaart team doesn’t compost, they use to create mulch, both of which they give away free.

“For people just starting out, one of the most important things is to protect soil from the sun, because there is life in the soil: organisms, worms, bacteria and fungi that are all sensitive to light and the heat of the sun. The easiest thing to do is mulch with whatever is available in your area,” Britz says.

Sandy soil cannot retain water and because of climate change and changes in rainfall patterns, urban farmers must increase the capacity of the soil to hold water, she says.

Britz has just harvested ginger that took eight months to grow and she pulls out a handful of the dark brown, moist earth that it was growing in – the result of her soil-building and composting efforts to change the soil from sandy to loamy. She also enhances the soil with worm manure. “A worm farm doesn’t have to be expensive. We have an old bath with worms in it and this also puts nutrients back into the soil.”

Both projects harvest rainwater simply by putting bins, empty drums and other containers in corners where the roofs of their houses channel water down. Expensive harvesting systems made up of water tanks and guttering are not necessary, they say.

Oppieyaart team member Robert Wolfe decants this rainwater into empty cooldrink bottles, then stacks and stores it for them to use in the dry months to water their gardens. “We almost had a room that was filled with two-litre bottles,” says Britz.

BaNkuna doesn’t have gutters on his house but collects up to 1 000 litres of water a night when it rains hard, simply by putting containers under the corners of his roof.

Garden to table

It is vital for everyone possible to plant a home food garden now, says Munyaradzi Chitakira, a Unisa professor and expert in climate-smart livelihoods in rural and urban areas. “Food prices are going up, people are losing jobs and it is very important for people to think of how they can beef up their household food. To get fresh food and organic food is very important as you are able to control the food.

“If you don’t have land, use buckets and tins, anywhere that you can grow some food instead of having to buy everything,” Chitakira says, adding that municipalities should set aside land and security guards for large communal food gardens.

Many tiny food gardens are an integral part of climate-smart urban agriculture. They are resilient to climate shocks as they ensure food security for families who will be affected by climate change. The crops themselves reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are further reduced when fewer commercial farm vegetables need to be trucked around the country.

Urban agriculture expert Juanee Cilliers agrees that local community gardens are vital to establishing shorter food supply chains and more sustainable forms of agriculture.

Research has already shown that existing food gardens are a valuable part of the economic and social development of communities. “The potential of these innovative markets has not yet been explored and could prove to be the catalyst for urban communities in South Africa to address food security, employment opportunities, empowerment prospects and entrepreneurial development,” says Cilliers.

Bridging the divide

BaNkuna has researched how rising unemployment has caused starvation even in rural villages near Tzaneen in Limpopo – a fertile region with high rainfall – where residents have historically planted crops and been self-sufficient. “I found that village kitchens need to be established even there, because there is hunger in the villages. When you eat pap with salt, it is not a fun thing. It is very painful,” he says.

In the grip of extreme hunger, collective shock at rampant corruption in government, a changing climate and catastrophic mudslides in KwaZulu-Natal, BaNkuna says ordinary people must never give up on collectively healing the nation – and this must start by ending the practice of hiding food away.

“We don’t have to hide food. It is a necessity like air. When we share food, the Van Tonders will start to talk to the Ngobenis and the Ngobenis will start to talk to the Mahmoods. We will start to bridge the divide between our spatial barriers,” he says.

BaNkuna is currently interviewing fellow pavement gardeners for a book. He recently met a woman who has planted 100m of pavement that at harvest time will be enough to feed 100 families.

“We really need to have people go back to nature and self-reliance. Yes, you can go to Pick ‘n Pay and buy soap. That is normal. But there is no reason for you to buy an onion or a sweet potato,” he concludes.

Copyright New Frame. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com)., source News Service English


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FACT-CHECK: How true is Buhari’s claim that Nigeria is better off today than in 2015?

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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari likes to boast about the progress he claims the West African nation has made under his administration, which started in May 2015. In many speeches and interviews, he talks about his governance records and how he has performed better than his predecessors, particularly in the areas of anti-corruption, economy, and security.

In addition, the president almost always blames past administrations for current challenges, many times citing the “near destruction of the country” under the PDP which had ruled Nigeria and produced three presidents – Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007); late Umaru Yar’Adua (2007-2010); and Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015) – in 16 years.

On June 20, Mr Buhari claimed his administration is leaving Nigeria in a “far better place than we found it” seven years ago. The president said this in a written response to questions from Bloomberg.

“We leave Nigeria in a far better place than we found it. Corruption is less hidden, for Nigerians feel empowered to report it without fear, while money is returned; terrorists no longer hold any territory in Nigeria, and their leaders are 2deceased, and vast infrastructure development sets the country on course for sustainable and equitable growth,” Mr Buhari said regarding his performance in fulfilling his pledges to fight corruption, secure the country and fix the economy.

A lot has happened since 2015 when Mr Buhari came into office and his administration is now rounding off, with less than one year to complete his full two terms of four years each.

But how true is the claim that Nigeria is better than he met it in 2015?

Before now, the president has been caught several times making unsubstantiated claims in his speeches. Therefore, to separate facts from fiction, PREMIUM TIMES is examining the three areas of governance that Mr Buhari was asked about in his interview with Bloomberg – corruption, security, and the economy.

Economic performance

Prior to 2015, Nigeria’s inflation rates remained at single digit–even as analysts opined at the time that it was high. For instance, in the whole of 2014, the nation’s inflation rate moved between 7.7 per cent, which was the lowest, to the highest point of 8.5 per cent, official data shows.

By 2015, when Mr Buhari took over power, the inflation rate averaged 9 per cent.

Since then, the nation has seen a surge in inflation rates. Data released by the statistics bureau, NBS, has shown that under Mr Buhari, Nigeria’s inflation rate hit a 16-year high amid an increase in prices and poor purchasing power.

In 2016, inflation rose to 15.68 per cent and jumped to 16.52 per cent in 2017. The numbers dropped to 12.09 per cent in 2018 and down to 11.40 per cent in 2019. By 2020, the inflation had risen to 12.2 per cent and closed in 2021 at 16.95 per cent.

In May, NBS said the inflation rate climbed to 17.71 per cent.

A key element of inflation in Nigeria in recent years is the skyrocketing prices of food and general goods and services.

Over the last seven years, food inflation in Nigeria has averaged 17 per cent – rising, for instance from 9.78 per cent in May 2015 to 20.3 per cent in November 2017.

In 2014, meanwhile, the nation’s food inflation was at 9.2 per cent. It rose to 10.4 per cent at the end of 2015; 17.4 per cent in 2016; 19.42 per cent in 2017; 13.56 per cent in 2018; 14.67 per cent in 2019; and 19.56 per cent in 2020.

Food inflation climbed to 20.57 per cent year-on-year in January 2021, according to data released by the NBS, making it the highest in over 11 years. It closed at 17.37 per cent in December 2021.

In May, however, the food inflation rose to 19.5 per cent amid an increase in prices of staple food across the country. The Russia-Ukraine war has exacerbated the problem but prices started surging with hardship deepening well before the conflict.

It is not only inflation that has increased under President Buhari, when he took over power in the second quarter of 2015, the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 per cent in the third quarter of that year from 8.2 per cent in the second quarter, according to the NBS.

Since then, unemployment, poverty, and economic disempowerment have remained a disturbing feature of Nigerian life. Between May 2015 and May 2021, Nigeria’s unemployment rate has more than tripled.

The current data on the NBS dashboard shows Nigeria’s unemployment rate is 33.3 per cent, translating to some 23.2 million people, the highest in at least 13 years and the second-highest rate in the world.

Similarly, the last poverty survey from the NBS showed that 40 per cent of the Nigerian population, or almost 83 million people, live below the poverty line.

According to the NBS ‘2019, Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria report, which was based on data from the Nigerian Living Standards Survey conducted in 2018-2019 with support from the World Bank’s Poverty Global Practice, the nation’s poverty line was put at 137,430 nairas ($381.75) per year.

In June, the World Poverty Clock also put the number of people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria at 83 million, or 39 per cent of the population, while the country’s total population stood at 214 million.

Also, between 2014 and 2019, Nigeria dropped nine places on the Global Human Development Index, HDI, published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The country was ranked 152 out of 187 countries in 2014. But, in 2019, the index placed Nigeria 161 out of 189 countries worldwide. The country scored low on all three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, knowledge, and a decent standard of living.

Also, between May 2015 and now, the Nigerian economy has fallen into recession, twice.

Under Mr Buhari’s stewardship, the economy fell into recession, first, in 2016 when the economy contracted 2.06 per cent between April and June, and in 2020 when COVID-19 decimated economies all over the world.

In November 2015, barely six months after Mr Buhari was inaugurated as president, the naira sold against the dollar at N197. Between then and now, the Nigerian currency has gone through ceaseless devaluation, with two of such exercises occurring in 2020 alone.

This year, the currency had been trading between the range of N417 and N422 for a dollar on the relatively flexible spot market window but on the black market, dealers exchanged the naira at N600 and above.

In the same vein, Nigeria’s debt profile has risen considerably since Mr Buhari took over power, as budgetary proposals have been designed considerably around debts.

According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s debt profile stood at N12.12 trillion as of June 2015, shortly after Mr Buhari took office. The DMO said Nigeria’s total public debt as of March 31, 2022, was N41.6 trillion. The figures include the Debt Stock of the Federal and State Governments, as well as, the Federal Capital Territory.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Buhari administration borrowed three times the combined amount by past governments since 1999.

Having looked at these key economic indices – inflation, unemployment rate, exchange rate, GDP and recession, food prices, and debt level, PREMIUM TIMES found that all these elements have worsened under Mr Buhari than they were before he took office in 2015.

Hence, the president’s claim that Nigeria is better economically is false.

Security

Before Mr Buhari took office in 2015, Nigeria was beleaguered by security threats, most considerably Boko Haram holding a large territory within the borders of the country and causing a humongous humanitarian disaster in the country’s North-east.

Since 2015, Nigeria has made advances against the terrorists and pushed them to the fringes of Sambisa Forest and Lake Chad Islands when the Islamic State in West Africa, ISWAP, is believed to be headquartered. But the re-capturing of much of the areas, especially northern Adamawa, including Michika, Mubi, and Madagali, and parts of Borno, including Gwoza and Bama, occurred between late 2014 and early 2015 under President Goodluck Jonathan.

PREMIUM TIMES’ reporters have repeatedly conducted on-the-ground reporting in the area and Nigeria newspapers, including ours, published reports of the military successes in those areas just before Mr Jonathan exited.

But the area remains highly militarised and several villages around Michika and Madagali in northern Adamawa and Gwoza, Uba, and Lassa in Borno remain prone to Boko Haram attacks. Fishing activities on the Lake Chad islands are still largely controlled by ISWAP, a key part of their financing. In June, the House of Representatives noted an “increase” in Boko Haram attacks in northern Adamawa and mandated the military to reinforce security in the affected communities.

While success is being recorded in the North-east, other parts of the country have become hotbeds of violence. Outside Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states, the original base of the terrorists, ISWAP has claimed responsibility for attacks on military formations and civilians in Taraba and Kogi States this year.

Then, apparent mismanagement of the country’s diversity by Mr Buhari, who repeatedly made divisive comments (the 97 vs 5 comments, for example), has aggravated ethnoreligious distrust and tensions and fuelled secessionist agitations.

In the northwest, bandit groups are virtually in charge, operating from ungoverned forests and exploiting the absence of police and local administration. Having originated in Zamfara State, the gang violence has since spread to five other nearby states, namely Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, and Niger, the last of which is in North-central.

In the middle part of the country, thousands of people have been killed in increasingly vicious land disputes between cattle herders and farmers. Farther to the south, the Biafran agitation has turned increasingly violent in the South-east. And in various pockets throughout the country, kidnapping has become common on major highways and schools.

Recently, rarely does a day go by without the press reporting a deadly attack or a kidnapping. In the first quarter of 2022, at least, 2,968 people were killed from mass atrocities while 1,484 were abducted, according to data released by the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST).

Our findings revealed that while significant progress has been in the northeast, Mr Buhari has, on a larger scale, failed to keep the promise of securing Nigeria.

This claim by the president is, therefore, rated not true.

Corruption

The perception of corruption in Nigeria under Mr Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, averaged 25.8 per cent. The score fluctuated between 24 and 27 per cent during the five years of Mr Jonathan.

Mr Buhari’s tenure as of 2020 averaged 26.6 per cent. Within the five years since he assumed office, the country’s score has ranged between 25 and 28 per cent, according to Transparency International (TI).

Nigeria’s ranking on the global index has, however, not been impressive. Between 2016 and 2020, Nigeria has slipped in the country ranking by 13 positions, from 136 in 2016 to 149 in 2020. The rankings are from 1 to 180, with 180 indicating the country that has the worst perception of corruption.

But a country’s placement on the ranking may not be because the country was perceived to be more corrupt; instead, the perception of corruption in other countries changed, Transparency International said.

A PREMIUM TIMES analysis of the annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by TI showed that Mr Buhari had the best performance in fighting corruption compared to his predecessors since 1999.

Mr Buhari has not made a significant ethical impact on the system by force of personal example and political will. He has not disclosed what his treatments in the United Kingdom for undisclosed ailments cost taxpayers and he has been captured at various times forging political alignments with individuals either indicted and being prosecuted or being investigated for corruption by the anti-graft agencies.

Cases of alleged serious corruption – like those of Stella Oduah, Danjuma Goje, and Godswill Akpabio – are believed to have gone “silent” after the affected politicians joined Mr Buhari’s APC or aligned with his political interest.

Also, after Panama Papers and Pandora Papers investigations offered the law enforcement agencies actionable intelligence with the releases of Nigerian past and serving officials who may have breached the country’s code of conduct law, no action has followed.

Then, Mr Buhari pardoned two former governors – Joshua Dariye, Plateau State; and Jolly Nyame, Taraba State – who were convicted and jailed for corruption, devastating the morale of the country’s anti-graft operatives, who had committed many years of work to investigate and secure the convictions.

Apart from appointing individuals already under investigation for monumental corruption to serve in his government, he allowed serving officials exposed for corrupt practices, especially procurement fraud, to remain in service. A think thank, Centre for Democracy and Development says that Mr Buhari’s anti-corruption promises remain “largely unmet”

Despite having been indicted twice for corruption by separate probes, the vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos remains in office. And Mr Buhari allows the NDDC to remain without a board and substantive management, making the organisation vulnerable to corruption. The result of an audit of the NDDC by the president is yet to be made public.

“As the candidate who rode into office in 2015 on a wave of popular anger with entrenched elite corruption, he has made little effort to reform Nigeria’s patronage-fueled, scandal-prone public sector or hold his top officials accountable for their business-as-usual approach,” CDD said in its report, titled, “Buhari’s Anti-Corruption Record at Six Years: An Assessment.”

This claim by the president is, therefore, rated not true.


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Papua New Guinea begins voting in key elections | News

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Voters in Papua New Guinea are heading to the polls to cast ballots on the first day of voting in the country’s national elections.

Some 10,000 police, army and corrections services personnel were mobilised for Monday’s vote. Australia also deployed 130 soldiers with transport aircraft to help secure the lengthy voting process across the country of nine million, which has a history of corruption and election-related killings.

Voting is scheduled to take up to 18 days and an outcome is not expected to be clear until August.

“We want transparency, we want accountability and above all, we want a safe, fair and secured polling period,” Prime Minister James Marape said after voting.

Election rivalries can quickly spill over into bloodshed in Papua New Guinea, especially in the remote and mountainous provinces.

During the last vote in 2017, Australian National University monitors documented more than 200 election-related killings and widespread “serious irregularities”.

This year, 15 election-related deaths have already been recorded, according to Papua New Guinea police.

In the highlands province of Enga, a candidate was charged with shooting and killing the supporter of a political rival on June 26, police told local media.

Marape conceded in an end-of-campaign message that there was still “rampant corruption in all strata of public service”.

The prime minister, who has promised to make Papua New Guinea the “richest Black Christian nation”, said there had been a lack of development despite the country’s “God-given” resources.

“I admit there is much more to be done for our country,” said Marape, who leads the Pangu party.

He faces a stiff challenge from his predecessor Peter O’Neill, who resigned as leader three years ago under pressure over endemic corruption and a perceived failure to spread mining wealth to the people.

O’Neill, of the People’s National Congress party, has pledged to attract private investment and revive the resources industry.

The country boasts large deposits of gas, oil, gold and copper, and is an exporter of forestry and agricultural products.

“There are worrying signs around our nation that the election has been very poorly prepared for and interference seems rife,” O’Neill charged.

“I hope the good officers of our security forces at all levels can ensure we have free, fair and safe elections.”

Analysts say the new leader will have to cobble together a coalition government in the male-dominated 118-seat parliament, which has had no women members since the 2017 polls.

“Elections are always messy and chaotic and they can get very violent,” Jessica Collins, Pacific researcher at the independent Sydney-based Lowy Institute think-tank, told the AFP news agency.

In an ethnically diverse country with more than 800 languages, analysts say voters are less interested in national issues than the material benefits candidates can bring home to local communities.

“People want to know what their candidate is going to do for them and for the village: the real, hard currency stuff,” Collins said.

Further complicating the process, the electoral roll is not up to date, said Pacific analyst Henry Ivarature at the Australian National University.

“So the whole integrity of this election is already under question,” he said.

The government that emerges from the elections will face significant challenges.

Nearly 40 percent of the population lives below the international poverty line, according to a 2020 report by the World Bank.

The resources- and agriculture-dependent economy posted a “weak recovery” last year, the Asian Development Bank said, after being battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, with only about 3 percent of the total population fully vaccinated.


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Anti-Corruption Branch Of Delhi Govt Can Investigate Corruption Allegations Against Delhi Police Officials: High Court

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The Delhi High Court recently rejected the argument set forth by an official of the Delhi Police that the corruption allegations levelled against him cannot be investigated by the Anti Corruption Branch of the Delhi government for the reason that the agency falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

In doing so, Justice Jasmeet Singh relied on Anil Kumar v. GNCT of Delhi where it was held that since the Delhi Police personnel serve the citizens in the national capital and the functions of the agency substantially and essentially relate to the affairs of Delhi, the Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi government has the jurisdiction to entertain and act on a complaint under the Prevention of Corruption Act in respect of a Delhi Police officer, and to investigate and prosecute the crime.

The bench observed,

Any official of the Central government accused of corruption cannot get away with the mere technicality of the Anti Corruption Branch not investigating them. When a complaint is made to an authority in charge, it is the duty of that authority to duly investigate and look into the said allegations. They may after due diligence, transfer the matter to the concerned authority to look into the same but they have the right to investigate the same at the time of lodging of the complaint.

The Court was dealing with a petition filed by a Sub Inspector in Delhi Police accused of taking bribery, seeking quashing and setting aside of the order on charge passed by Special Judge (PC Act) in which charges under sec. 7, 13(1)(d) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act were framed.

The complainant in the matter had applied for an Arms licence and it was alleged that the petitioner visited his residence for inquiry regarding the same.

It was further submitted in the complaint that the petitioner asked the complainant to pay a bribe of Rs. 20,000 for sending his report for grant of Arms licence and after some negotiation the petitioner reduced the amount to Rs. 10,000. The complainant, thus, handed over a sum of Rs. 1,000 to the petitioner, recorded the conversation and provided a CD of the same later on.

It was thus alleged that the petitioner contacted the complainant to meet him for collecting the remaining balance amount of Rs. 9,000.

Subsequently, on personal search of the petitioner, 10 GC notes of denomination of 500 and 4 notes of Rs. 1,000 amounting to a total of Rs. 9,000 were recovered from his right hand and the serial number of the recovered currency notes tallied with the serial numbers noted in the pre- raid proceedings. During investigation, the petitioner was interrogated and an FIR was lodged against him.

The petitioner had approached the Court on the ground that he was exonerated in departmental proceedings and according to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Ashoo Surendranath Tewari v. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, criminal proceedings cannot continue against him.

It was also added that the petitioner was a Sub Inspector in Delhi Police and thus the Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi Government had no jurisdiction to investigate the offence against a Sub Inspector working in Delhi Police which falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Court noted that the complainant himself deposed during the departmental enquiry that he offered a bribe for his timely verification and the petitioner herein declined it.

“The recording of the demand and subsequent filing of FIR by the complainant seems vitiated and not reliable under circumstances discussed above,” the Court said.

The Court was of the view that when departmental proceedings and the criminal proceedings were a mirror image of each other and the petitioner was exonerated on merits in the departmental inquiry, the criminal proceedings on the same set of facts and circumstances cannot be permitted to be continued.

The Court also said that the standard of proof in departmental proceedings is much lower than the standard of proof in criminal proceedings.

However, rejecting the petitioner’s argument that since he was a Sub Inspector in Delhi Police, the Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi Government would have no jurisdiction to investigate the offence, the Court observed thus:

“…..the argument of the petitioner that the ACB would not have jurisdiction to investigate into his case on the basis of a complaint made to them, cannot be sustained. Any official of the Central government accused of corruption cannot get away with the mere technicality of the Anti Corruption Branch not investigating them.”

The Court allowed the plea after opining that the petitioner was exonerated in departmental proceedings and further there was no substantial material on record to show the need to continue the criminal proceedings against him.

“…the petition is thus allowed and the order of charge dated 10.03.2021, passed by learned Special Judge (PC Act) CBI, Rouse Avenue Courts, Delhi, and all subsequent proceedings emanating therefrom are hereby set aside,” the Court ordered.

Case Title: JOHNSON JACOB v. STATE

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 602

Click Here To Read Order


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