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Post Info TOPIC: SONIA - MANMOHAN Government Achievements


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Govt not clearing 500 expense of NGT shocks SC 

Dhananjay Mahapatra TNN 

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday accused the government of trying to frustrate the functioning of courts and quasi-judicial bodies by not providing them any facilities as they found these bodies upsetting their decisions.
A bench of Justice G S Singhvi and Justice S J Mukhopadhaya made this scathing observation as the Union government failed to live up to its repeated commitment to bring in uniformity in service conditions and infrastructure facilities for chairpersons,presidents and members of tribunals and quasi-judicial 
.
It gave the example of the National Green Tribunal (NGT),which has been acknowledged by the judiciary and the executive as the most important quasi-judicial body since independence.However,the bench said the NGT chairperson found it a frustrating experience to get a meagre expense of Rs 500 cleared.Repeated directions from the bench and monitoring had forced the government to make NGT functional by appointing its chairperson.But it is shocking to hear NGT chairperson disclose that he finds it difficult to get even a Rs 500 bill cleared, the bench 
.
We have repeatedly said that it is one of the most important tribunals to be set up since independence,but the government has slashed its budget to less than one-tenth of what was proposed earlier, it added.The bench was hurt by the governments lack of will to live up to its commitment,repeatedly given to the court through attorney general G E Vahanvati and additional solicitors general in the last 10 months,to bring uniformity in service conditions of chairpersons,presidents and heads of various tribunals and quasijudicial bodies and their members along with infrastructure facilities.
Justice Singhvi and Justice Mukhopadhaya said it was part of the design to frustrate the courts and tribunals.The bench said,They do not want courts and quasi-judicial bodies to function properly.They find these bodies upsetting their decisions.That is why they do not provide facilities and infrastructure.This leaves the chairpersons of tribunals frustrated as they cannot function.In these circumstances,what the NGT chairperson disclosed will not be surprising. 

Times View 


Many have long suspected that governments are averse to independent supervision of what they do and hence are prone to hamstringing such oversight bodies,whether they are regulators or tribunals.With the Supreme Court now voicing similar apprehensions,we hope the issue will get the kind of serious attention it deserves.A democratic system premised on the rule of law needs such checks and balances to function effectively.It is,therefore,of the utmost importance that they have the facilities and the freedom to discharge their duties fully.


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SC finds criminality in Radia conversations 

Wants CBI To Scan All 5,831 Call Transcripts For Further Probe 

Dhananjay Mahapatra TNN 

New Delhi:Supreme Court will next week set up a CBI probe to examine criminality in the Radia tapes,ensuing that the former corporate lobbyists controversial conversations with politicians,industrialists and influence-peddlers will continue to engage attention of investigating agencies and others.
The court,which examined a tiny sample of Niira Radias 5,831 transcripts of intercepted telephone conversations,said the CBI will be tasked with examining the conversations many of them related to the 2G spectrum scam with suspected criminality.Once these transcripts are segregated,we will decide on the question of privacy and destruction of those call records and transcripts which are purely private in nature.Appropriate orders would be passed on Wednesday, the bench said.
The bench of Justice G S Singhvi and Justice S J Mukhopadhaya said,We have gone through only a few transcripts.Some of the conversations were innocuous but others are not innocuous.It needs to be scrutinized by a team of officers who need to go through transcripts of all intercepted calls which run into thousands of pages.We do not want any mudslinging.The exercise should be confined to detecting those conversations which have criminality or affect national security. 
The bench was responding to senior advocate Harish Salve,who appeared for petitioner and former Tata group chairman Ratan Tata and pleaded for deciding the breach of privacy issue arising out of the publication of certain conversations between Tata and Radia.Salve also suggested that the hearing in the case after the segregation exercise by the CBI should be held in-chamber to protect right to privacy of individuals.
On January 8,the bench had said it would run a random check on Radia tapes to look for any instance of suspected criminality which needed to be probed by the CBI.We will decide this after opening two or three envelopes,whether further investigations are needed and indicate the areas in which the probe must focus on.We won't look into innocuous conversations,"the bench had said.On January 8,additional solicitor general Harin Raval,appearing for the CBI,had volunteered that a team of CBI officers could be constituted to go through the transcripts and submit a report to the court.
On Friday,the bench wanted to know from about the CBI officers who would undertake the task but had to adjourn hearing as the law officer was not present during the hearing.It said,We have gone through some of the transcripts and would have passed appropriate orders for the scrutiny (of the entire 49 volumes of transcripts) by a team of officers.But the ASG is not available. Senior advocate Mukul Gupta,appearing for the income tax department,said its officers had found another folder containing records of additional intercepts of Radias calls and submitted another volume to the court,taking the total of such transcript volumes to 49.
On Salves request for in-camera hearing in the case,the bench said,Privacy issue will come later.The first task is to identify those conversations with criminality and illegality.Once these are segregated,the question of privacy will come.There will be those which are purely private conversations.But there will also be those which are neither personal nor there is any criminality but still needed to be looked into.Once criminality is found,it will go before the competent court.But purely private conversations will have to be deleted and all records destroyed. 
The Radia tapes a cache of elite chatter including conversations among corporate lobbyists and politicians and others were recorded by the income tax department between August 2008 and July 2009,causing sensation when they mysteriously surfaced,with many citing the contents as illustrating the growing corporate influence on policymaking.
Of the intercepted 5,831 telephonic conversations,the CBI while investigating the irregular allotment of 2G spectrum during A Raja's tenure as telecom minister,had looked into some of them and had told the court that no criminality was found in those conversations.But on September 6,2012,the court had asked the I-T department to transcribe each and every intercepted telephone call.


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LEGAL TANGLE 



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Non-bailable charges slapped on Union minister for vandalism 

TIMES NEWS NETWORK 

Behrampore: Union minister Adhir Chowdhury was on Friday slapped with non-bailable charges for leading a demonstration of Congress workers that turned violent at the Murshidabad DMs office.The MP was among eight Congress leaders and 1,000 party supporters against whom FIRs were registered for Thursdays vandalism.
Chowdhury and the seven Congress leaders were booked under Sections 147 (rioting),148 (rioting with deadly weapon ),113 (abetting to cause grievous hurt),114 (abettor present during the offence),425 (intent to cause or causing damage to public property) and 353 (attack or using criminal force to deter a public servant from doing his duty) of the IPC.Section 353 is nonbailable.Sections 113 and 144 also become non-bailable if invoked with Section 353.
Chowdhury,however,remained defiant,saying that he was ready to go to jail.What I did was absolutely right.I will do that again.True,I am a minister,but above all I am a public representative serving the peoples cause.I wont allow a bureaucrat to trounce public interest and ignore politicians only to please Didi, the MoS,railways,said.Congress supporters had marched to the DMs office in protest against the alleged custodial death of party worker Safiqul Haq at Berhampore jail on January 7.
Speaking to the media on Friday,Chowdhury directed his anger at Kumar.Who is this DM What makes him so audacious Can he ignore a Union minister,Pradesh Congress chief and leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party If I were the CM,I would have suspended him.Why did he leave office after giving an appointment He could have taken the memorandum as he had to do later after the trouble, he said.



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I am innocent,will not resign,says Kurien 

RS Deputy Chairman Says Charges in Sex Scandal Politically Motivated 

TNN & AGENCIES 

New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram : Under attack over the Suryanelli rape case that has returned to haunt him,Rajya Sabha deputy chairman P J Kurien on Friday ruled out his resignation even as the scandal continued to rock the Kerala assembly for the fourth consecutive day.
I have been absolutely cleared by the highest court of the land legally and morally.To my conscience,I am an innocent person.Can an innocent person be asked to step down because of allegations Stepping down would amount to an indirect admission to the crime, he said when asked whether he would resign over the political uproar over the case.Kurien said the current controversy and the demands for his prosecution in the case were politically motivated and is being used to tarnish my image by my political adversaries.
The opposition disrupted assembly proceedings demanding stern action against police officials who had allegedly attacked two women MLAs who were protesting demanding Kuriens resignation.The assembly witnessed unruly scenes after they demanded action against the policemen on the basis of the report submitted by ADGP (southzone) A Hemachandran who had investigated the matter.
Quoting a portion of the report,opposition MLAs Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and C Divakaran said the policemen had misbehaved with MLA Geetha Gopi during the protest march which was undertaken by various womens organizations on Wednesday.Balakrishnan said that the opposition would agree to a judicial inquiry only after suspending the two police officers,who had allegedly misbehaved with the MLAs,but the ruling front was not ready to budge.
Home minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan reiterated that the government was not ready to take more action since a judicial inquiry has been ordered.The opposition assembled near the dais,surrounding the speaker,shouting slogans and later walked out after G Karthikeyan resumed proceedings on the basis of the home ministers reply.Meanwhile,the speaker also completed the private members business to adjourn the house for the day.
Earlier,the speaker censured K K Lathika,Jameela Prakasam,K S Saleekha and Aisha Potti who had shouted slogans by surrounding the chair on Thursday on the same issue.The chair had taken a softer approach towards the MLAs who had climbed the dais on February 04.But they are viewing this soft stance as weakness, warned the speaker,who said strict action will be initiated if such an incident happens in future.

Siby Mathews altered his statement: BJP leader 




TIMES NEWS NETWORK 


Kozhikode/Kottayam: BJP leader K S Rajan,a witness in the Suryanelli rape case,has alleged that investigating officer Siby Mathews had altered the statement given by him in the case,to save P J Kurien.Addressing a news conference in Kozhikode on Friday,Rajan said he had told Siby Mathews that he met Kurien at a house at Thiruvalla at 5pm.But Siby Mathews changed the time to 7pm, he said.Rajan added that he would move legally against the officer for the statement to help Kurien.Rajan also said that he was approached by a number of people with financial offers to save Kurien.However,he said said he did not remember their names now.
Meanwhile,Mathews denied the charges.It was DSP Prabhakaran Nair,who was a member of the investigation team,who took his statement, he said in Kottayam.There were around 500 witnesses in the case and several officers were assigned to take statements from them,he said.However,he did not comment on the statement by the Suryanelli victim that he had put pressure on her to exempt Kurien from the case.



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VVIP choper scam: Congress links

 
2f816bc1-7948-41b3-b56e-d76028f9f05fMediumRes.JPGMonday, February 18, 2013
Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 18, 2013
First Published: 01:28 IST(18/2/2013)
Last Updated: 01:37 IST(18/2/2013)
18_02_13-metro1_mumbai.jpg
Ex-minister’s kin on board of choppergate IT company

Former union minister of state for coal Santosh Bagrodia’s younger brother Satish Bagrodia is a director in Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech Limited, which Italian investigators allege was a key vehicle to route the AgustaWestland deal bribe money to India in the garb of fake software and engineering contracts.

According to documents accessed by HT, Partap Krishan Agarwal is managing director of IDS Infotech, and Satish Bagrodia, his two sons Ashish and Manish, and Yog Prakash Agarwal and Narinder Agarwal are other directors. Satish and Manish were appointed directors in 1989, while Ashish Bagrodia became a director in the company in 2005.

“I have nothing to do with business ventures of my brother,” said Santosh Bagrodia when contacted by HT. “At the time of joining politics in 1986, on my suggestion, we four brothers separated our respective businesses.”

This is not the first time that business ventures of Santosh Bagrodia’s brothers have landed him in controversy. In the coal block allocation scam, allegations were leveled against Santosh Bagrodia over a Rs. 600-crore mining contract awarded by a unit of state-owned Coal India Limited during his tenure in the coal ministry to Cuprum Bagrodia, a company of another of his brothers, Vinod. Santosh was coal minister between April 2008 and May 2009. 

Satish Bagrodia told HT that IDS Infotech was providing business and software solutions to AgustaWestland till 2009, when it “sold” this business to Aeromatrix, another Chandigarh based firm.

And along with the business went Praveen Bakshi, an employee of IDS Infotech till 2009 as their executive vice president, and now the CEO of Aeromatrix, in which two Italians Guido Ralph Hasckhe and Carlo Gerosa were directors. Hasckhe and Gerosa have been named as middlemen in the AgustaWestland deal by the Italian prosecutors.

Contrary to Satish Bagrodia’s claims, Italian prosecutors believe that IDS Infotech never supplied any services to AgustaWestland, and that the contract between the two firms -- signed on March 1, 2007 -- was merely a mechanism to funnel kickbacks to India. They say bribes worth Rs. 156 crore were paid through IDS Infotech and IDS Tunisia, a company in which the Chandigarh-firm owns substantial shares. Details of invoices tracking the payment made to IDS Infotech also point to money paid till February 27, 2010 – just 19 days after AgustaWestland finally won the Rs. 3760 crore deal to supply 12 VVIP choppers to India. 

“I and Partap are equal partners in IDS Infotech. My status is more of an investor in the company,” said Satish. 

Partap Agarwal didn’t reply to HT’s phone call and text message.

On the allegation that IDS was a vehicle of channelling bribe money, Satish Bagrodia said since Partap Agarwal running the company he is not aware of it. “But I believe IDS Infotech has done nothing wrong,” he said. Satish also claimed that except IDS Infotech, he doesn’t have any other business venture with Partap Agarwal.

But documents available with HT reveal that the business relations between Agarwal and Bagrodia run much deeper. Agarwal is director in nine companies besides being managing director of two other companies-IDS Infotech Limited and IDS Engineering Limited. Satish Bagrodia and his sons Ashish and Manish are also directors in IDS Engineering.

Manish Bagrodia and Partap Agarwal are also jointly directors in at least four more companies -- Delta Infoway, IDS Infosys, IDS Argus Healthcare and IDS SITEL Technologies.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1013101.aspx


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Sonia Gandhi's family involved in chopper scam: Subramanian Swamy

 
Last Updated: Sunday, February 17, 2013, 23:15 

Sonia Gandhi's family involved in chopper scam: Subramanian Swamy 

Patna: Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Sunday alleged that the UPA Government doesn't want the truth behind the alleged corruption in Agusta Westland deal to come out because Congress president Sonia Gandhi's family is involved in the deal. 

"The scam is not surprising for me. Another chopper was selected in the beginning of the deal, but citing some technicalities, they changed the company. It was only for the commission, and the Nehru-Gandhi family has acquired the most part of the commission. About half of the total money has gone to Sonia's two sisters in Italy," said Swamy. 

"You see, wherever the Nehru-Gandhi family is involved, corruption occurred. No incident of bribery or corruption took place during the tenure of late Prime Ministers Lal Bahadur Shastri and Morarji Desai," he added. 

Reacting to the Italian court's refusal for sharing information and documents, Swamy said: "Naturally the court will not share the information like this. The CBI should have to first gone to a court here and obtained a letter seeking information or documents. The Italian court will be bound to share information after that letter. But, the government is not serious, they are investigating in the matter just for the sake of investigation." 

According to media reports, the Italian court, which is hearing the case of alleged corruption in deal, has informed the Indian embassy in Rome on Saturday that the investigation is at an initial stage and the documents can only be shared with the parties in the case, arguing that the information is covered by secrecy. 

The Defence Ministry has directed the CBI to probe the matter and two officials from the CBI will also be visiting Italy. 

The copter scam has unfolded with the arrest of the head of a state-controlled Italian aerospace company. 

Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi, who was arrested on Tuesday in Rome, had been under investigation for months and had denied any wrongdoing in the deal for the sale of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters to India in 2010. 

AgustaWestland, the Italian firm. is presently at the centre of a controversy over allegations of paying kickbacks in the Rs 3600 crore VVIP chopper deal. (ANI) 

ANI 
http://zeenews.india.com/news/nation/sonia-gandhi-s-family-involved-in-chopper-scam-subramaniam-swamy_829744.html


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2G scam: Under Supreme Court’s nose, conspiracy hatched to destroy 2G case; leaked call transcripts

 
NEW DELHI, February 18, 2013
More skeletons tumble out of leaked 2G call transcripts

SHALINI SINGH
2g_1367474f.jpg
CBI prosecutor in touch with second accused Balwa; CBI cherry-picks from CAG’s list of ineligible applicants

New evidence suggests that the CBI’s 2G prosecution case could be even more severely compromised. Detailed call transcripts of a conversation, allegedly between the CBI’s prosecutor A.K. Singh and the key accused, Unitech Managing Director, Sanjay Chandra, reveal that the prosecutor was additionally in discussion with a second key accused Shahid Balwa of Swan Telecom.

Private TV channel CNN-IBN, which had exclusive access to some parts of the conversation, had telecast the contents on February 12.

An analysis of the Call Transcription in the Preliminary Enquiry (PE) no. 1(A) 13/AC-III/ New Delhi now shows that prosecutor Singh, by his own admission, had been in communication with Mr. Balwa either directly or through a third party. Mr. Singh further cited judgments favouring the accused, obliquely suggesting that these should be used by defence counsel to destroy the prosecution’s case.

An investigative story by The Hindu ‘Right under Supreme Court’s nose, conspiracy hatched to destroy 2G case’ published on February 13, 2012, had shown that DoT officials named in the tapes — B.B. Singh, then DDG Licence Fee, and A.K. Srivastav, then DDG Access Services — had a crucial exchange three days before the 2G scam, which was perpetrated on January 7, 2008.

Mr. B.B. Singh had alerted Mr. Srivastav that the paid-up capital required for a pan-India licence was Rs. 138 crore and not Rs. 10 crore. Despite 85 licensees becoming ineligible on this account, Mr. Srivastav processed their applications, enabling them to fraudulently access LoIs and later, spectrum.

These revelations throw up previously unknown acts of omission and commission of individuals in positions of authority — both within and outside the CBI — who have systematically been compromising the CBI case. This evidence additionally calls for a review of some government witnesses/approvers, since the full call transcripts reveal that they may have committed illegal acts, independent of ex-Telecom Minister A. Raja, his Personal Secretary R.K. Chandolia and the then Telecom Secretary S. Behura — so far, the only three accused from the Telecom Ministry.

It now turns out that CBI prosecutor Singh, who admits to being in regular dialogue with Mr. Balwa, was worried that the latter following a different legal strategy could damage his own attempts to help out Mr. Chandra and possibly others as well.

While discussing the case, Mr. Singh allegedly told Mr. Chandra (Hindi to English translation of call transcription): “Balwa is damaging the trial. God give him wisdom. He is preparing a noose around his neck and also damaging others alongside... don’t know… Have explained to him a thousand times…”

Chandra: “He has improved in comparison to the past...”

Singh: “Don’t know what is the problem, can’t fathom. I… don’t know, what he thinks of himself? …a little… has to be told…”

Despite Mr. Chandra’s assurance that Mr. Balwa had improved, Mr. Singh remained unconvinced and sceptical.

There is good reason for Mr. Singh and Mr. Chandra to worry about Mr. Balwa. The 63-page CBI charge sheet, dated April 2, 2011, co-accuses Unitech (Chandra) and Swan (Balwa), under each of the five charges relating to “(A) Investigation about Cut-off date, (B) Investigation into violation of First-Come-First-Served Policy, (C) Dual Technology Approvals and Spectrum Allocation, (D) Eligibility of Companies, and (E) Cheating the Government Exchequer by Non-Revision of Entry Fee.” Most of the charges are identical, though Mr. Chandra is an accused under Section 420 of the IPC, while Mr. Balwa is accused of offences punishable under Sections 420, 468 and 471 of the IPC.

Another part of the call transcript, which has not been aired in its entirety so far, relates to the favourable judgments that Mr. Singh is citing which, according to him, if used after securing the testimony of the government’s star witness, Mr. Srivastav, will not only overrule all other government witnesses but will eventually destroy the case altogether.

(Hindi to English translation of call transcription):

A.K. Singh: “Yes…Srivastav will state that Sir, for DoT, the approval of the shareholders is mandatory before the application…. and that…. its prima facie a company.”

Chandra: “That’s all?”

Singh: “After looking, this is what he will state…”

Chandra: “Rao sahib can get our work done. There is no problem…”

Singh: “Kambuj is a third person. His findings are not binding on DoT. For that, I have a brilliant judgment. Unlikely anyone else has that judgment, which states that the Department that formulates a guideline can interpret it in 10 different ways. Whatever is DoT’s understanding is being testified by their own witness and in future that alone will be sustainable. I dealt with a typical issue… In U.P., let me tell you… even though it’s extremely unfortunate that the entire defence counsel has not been able to cite this judgment. It’s an interesting judgment about petrol pumps of Indian Oil… in which…”

Mr. Singh assures Mr. Chandra, later in the same conversation, that he needn’t worry about Mr. Srivastav’s testimony since on the issue of eligibility, Mr. Srivastav would deliver an unabashed statement to help Mr. Chandra’s case.

The transcription further throws up a new character called “Rao sahib” who Mr. Chandra believes will assist in delivering government witness Srivastav’s testimony to dilute the case against Mr. Chandra.

These revelations, including that Mr. Singh is encouraging the defence lawyers to cite judgments against the prosecution while additionally assuring the accused of a favourable testimony from the prosecution’s star witness, show the extent to which the rot has set in the prosecution’s case, which is being heard daily in a special CBI court.

The last piece of evidence emerging from the Singh-Chandra exchange is on how to get past the eligibility accusation faced by Unitech in which Mr. Chandra feared an adverse testimony by Mr. Kambuj who prepared the RoC report. Investigation by The Hindu shows that Unitech, according to the CAG, had violated eligibility criteria across six different guidelines in each of its 22 applications. Altogether, the CAG pointed to 85 licences being in violation of the eligibility conditions (see chart on Page 1).

The Supreme Court’s order of December 16, 2010, invoking the CAG report, had expressly directed the CBI to investigate how ineligible companies received LoIs/licences, including the role of DoT officials in granting such licences. This was especially significant since out of 232 qualifying applications on the cut-off date of September 25, 2007, 110 were found ineligible by the same officials who allowed 85 faulty applications through the door.

Yet, the CBI charge sheet restricts its observations to Swan and Unitech, while ignoring the eligibility violations by Loop, Alliance, Videocon and S Tel, all of which, according to the CAG, were guilty of accessing spectrum fraudulently. The CBI charge sheet also makes no mention of guilty officials, who have all been converted into witnesses. It is unclear whether the officials who selectively processed ineligible applications did so independently or under directions from Mr. Raja.

This new evidence reveals that despite filing status reports through the CVC and being under the Supreme Court’s supervision, the prosecution’s case has been extensively damaged by the CBI’s weak charge sheets, aided by a team of compromised prosecutors and witnesses.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/more-skeletons-tumble-out-of-leaked-2g-call-transcripts/article4425555.ece?homepage=true

NEW DELHI, February 13, 2013
Under Supreme Court’s nose, conspiracy hatched to destroy 2G case

SHALINI SINGH

Tapes suggest prosecutor, accused and star witness colluded to vitiate SC directions to CBI

The exposure of an apparent conspiracy between the CBI prosecutor in the 2G scam investigation, A.K. Singh, and the accused Unitech Managing Director, Sanjay Chandra, could have grave consequences since it reveals a deliberate attempt to pull the wool over the Supreme Court’s eyes under whose supervision the entire investigation and prosecution has been occurring since December 16, 2010.

The leaked conversation leads the matter beyond the prosecutor and accused to involve star prosecution witness A.K. Srivastav, who was otherwise liable to face a jail term, along with the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, the former DoT Secretary, S. Behura, and the former private secretary to Mr Raja, R.K. Chandolia.

The recordings suggest that Mr. Singh was colluding to help Mr. Chandra by not only discussing the CBI’s legal strategy but in fact overruling internal instructions on what questions to ask, pre-deciding their sequence to suit the accused and on whether to call B.B. Singh, DDG (Licence Fee) of the DoT’s Finance Division, for cross-questioning, versus A.K. Srivastav, DDG (Access Services). It is clear from the taped conversation that Mr. Singh and Mr. Chandra believe that using Mr. Srivastav’s testimony would help destroy the prosecution’s own case in three stages, including one that relates to Unitech obtaining licences and spectrum in spite of being ineligible.

The CAG, in its report of December 16, 2010, stated that 85 of the 122 licences granted to 13 companies by the DoT were ineligible. For Unitech, it detailed in pages 35-41, the manner in which the company had provided “false” and “fictitious” certificates on authorised share capital and misrepresented facts. The CAG said: “Their conditional registration by the ROC was a fraudulent act of these 6 companies with mala fide intention of obtaining the UAS licences for 20 service areas by misleading DoT.”

Slamming DoT officials as well, the CAG wrote: “It would thus appear that the DoT miserably failed to do the necessary due diligence in the examination of the applications of these applicants though they took more than 3-9 months to process these applications as against a prescribed period of 30 days.” It was Mr. Srivastav and his team which, while rejecting roughly 100 applications, certified these applications for grant of LoIs, overriding internal written warnings of the finance division on page 28 N of File No: 20-100/2007-AS-I.

SC direction vitiated

The Supreme Court, after hearing the PIL, which had forced the CBI to finally act in November 2010, leading to the arrest of Mr. Raja in February 2011, had specifically directed the CBI to investigate the issue of “ineligible applicants,” who fraudulently accessed licences.

The court, taking cognizance of the CAG report, also directed investigation against DoT officials involved in grant of licences to ineligible firms. It said: “The CBI shall conduct a thorough investigation into various issues highlighted in the report of the CVC which was forwarded to Director, CBI, vide letter dated 12-10-2009 and in the report of the CAG who have prima facie found serious irregularities in the grant of licences to 122 applicants, majority of whom are said to be ineligible, the blatant violation of terms and conditions of licence and huge loss to public exchequer running into several thousand crores. CBI should also probe how new licences were granted to large number of ineligible applicants and who was responsible for the same and why the TRAI and DoT did not take action against those licensees who sold their stake/equities for many thousand crores and also those who failed to fulfil rollout obligations and comply with other conditions of licence.”

This meant that the CBI should have indicted Mr. Srivastav and members of the AS cell. However, instead, the CBI turned him into the star government witness, closely mirroring an approver. The conspiracy of the quid pro quo, uncovered by the tapes, reveals that the testimony of the government witness was to be used to acquit a key accused with the help of a complicit prosecutor — who was focussed on what he would get paid if he was representing the corporates instead of the government. Mr. Chandra’s acquittal of charges of obtaining licences on ineligible applications would have collapsed the case while additionally exonerating DoT officials of charges of collusion.

CBI-Srivastav-Chandra collude

An investigation into the case files by The Hindu shows that Mr. Srivastav had bypassed written warnings by Mr. B. B. Singh, DDG (LF), whose name also appears in the tapes, that “accordingly all service areas licence equity required is Rs.138 crores and not ten crores as per the UASL guidelines 2005.” On January 7, 2008, Mr. Srivastav, ignoring this noting and the knowledge that several companies, especially Unitech, did not meet the criteria on the date of application i.e. September 24, 2007 (as was later disclosed by CAG), processed the file leading to grant of 122 LoIs, which included 22 granted to Unitech’s eight different companies. (See table).

The CAG, which discovered the fraud, said of Unitech in its December 16, 2010 audit report: “Eight applicants belonging to Unitech Group (Brand name Uninor) had been incorporated in August-September 2007 with an authorised share capital of 5 lakh each. All these eight companies passed the special resolutions for increase in the authorised share capital between 2 PM to 5 PM on 20 September 2007 in the extra-ordinary general meetings of the respective companies and deposited the requisite stamp duties on 3 October 2007 for increase in the authorised share capital. After they submitted the requisite applications along with the proof of payment of stamp duties on 5 October 2007, the certificate of the registration of the increase in the authorised share capital was issued by the ROC only on 8/11 October 2007. Thus the claim of the higher paid up capital of these companies on the date of submission i.e. 24 September and the supporting certificates of the company secretaries of these companies submitted along with their applications was false and fictitious.” The conspiracy was hatched to avoid prosecution of Mr. Chandra and DoT officials relating to this paragraph read with the SC directions of December 2010.

The conspiracy

In effect, an independent investigation and prosecution should have been launched against Mr. Srivastav and his officers. However, the CBI instead converted him into a prosecution witness. The CBI prosecutor is now using that favour to have him give statements which, according to Mr.A.K. Singh, is the only one that “will matter.” So despite contrary reports by officers of ROC (the leaked tape mentions one Mr. Kambuj), the case was to be destroyed using Mr. Srivastav’s testimony. Mr. Singh even cited a Supreme Court judgement to buttress this case in the alleged tele-conversation with Mr. Chandra.

The apparent conspiracy as recorded on tape appears to be an attempt to circumvent explicit directions of the Supreme Court, since the main accused within the DoT — Mr. Srivastav — has not been charged for processing 85 ineligible applications — including 22 of Unitech. And now, according to the tapes, the prosecutor, the prosecution witness and the accused are doing one another favours to deliver weak, pre-planned and favourable testimonies to dilute and eventually collapse the case which helps all parties, and most of all the government whose reputation is at stake. Since converting Mr. Srivastav into a prosecution witness rather than keeping him as a key accused remains within the discretionary powers of the CBI, it becomes clear as to why prosecutor Mr. Singh and the accused Mr. Chandra have such confidence in the favourable testimony of Mr. Srivastav in this sensitive case.


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http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/under-supreme-courts-nose-conspiracy-hatched-to-destroy-2g-case/article4408402.ece


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Cgarh fudged papers to convert forest into mine 

Nitin Sethi TNN 

New Delhi: The Chhattisgarh government fudged records,concealed facts,changed policy and altered decisions while the Union environment ministry overlooked all such illegalities to open up 1,899 hectares for mining in Hasdeo Arand,one of the best patches of forests in central India.
Initially,the Centre had decided to protect Hasdeo Arand by making it a no-go zone for miners.The Chhattisgarh government too moved to get the forest declared an elephant reserve.But once the state changed its mind and decided to mine coal at Parsa East and Kante Basan in Sarguja district inside the reserve it resorted to unfair means.
The blocks were allocated to Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited.The PSU inked a joint venture with Adani Enterprises Limited,the latter holding 74% equity.Another Adani subsidiary,Adani Mining Private Limited,was contracted to mine the block.
Earlier,the state government had decided to declare three elephant reserves in the forest patch Tamor Pingla,Semar Sot and Lemru covering 1,048 sqkm.


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Cgarh govt misled green ministry 


The Chhattisgarh government had decided to declare three elephant reserves in the forest patch Tamor Pingla,Semar Sot and Lemru covering 1,048 sq km.The principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) recommended that having these three reserves as islands would not help protect the elephants.The corridors in Hasdeo Arand patches used by elephants for unrestricted movement too should be given additional protection.
But,when the state government decided to hand over the forest patch to miners,it fudged facts while applying for forest clearance from the Union environment ministry.The Chhattisgarh government claimed the forest area was not used by elephants and only surrounding areas had been visited by pachyderms twice between 2004 and 2009.It categorically said the forest patch had no particular wildlife species of value.
Records with TOI,however,show that just four days before the application was submitted to the Centre,the regions divisional forest officer on a site visit noted that the area had not just elephants but also other protected species such as bear,wild boar,chital,barking deer,sambhar and leopards.
 


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BUDGET AND AFTER 
Tasmac to shell out 400cr extra in taxes 

Centre To Take Slice Out Of TN Booze Pie 

R Satyanarayana TNN 

Chennai: The Centres latest proposal to net taxes from state-owned firms will prove to be a bitter pill for the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac).The states revenue-spinning corporation in charge of liquor distribution and sale is bracing up for the possibility of shelling out more than 400 crore in taxes from the next fiscal year.
Finance minister P Chidambaram has amended the tax structure to make all stateowned entities pay service tax on all fees levied.His budget has proposed an amendment to Section 40(a),which denies deduction on any amount collected by a state government prior to declaration of incomes and payment of taxes thereon.
The amendment denies deduction on any amount that is appropriated directly or indirectly from a state government undertaking by the respective state government.In fact,a large scope of discretion has been given to the revenue authority to decide what is indirectly appropriated from a state government undertaking by the state.Such indirect appropriation could attract tax on fees paid by both upstream and downstream product sellers and service providers.
The amendment will be a double whammy as Tasmac has garnered 3,000 crore less than its 25,000-crore revenue target for the year.The proposal will further dent its income.
According to the finance ministrys proposal,disputes have arisen in respect of income-tax assessment for fees and royalty accruing to state government undertakings.In some cases,orders have been issued to the effect that the surplus in such undertakings shall vest with the state government.As a result,it has been claimed that such surplus income is not subject to tax.But the amendment points out that state government undertakings are separate legal entities from the state government and are liable to income tax.The amendment will take effect from April 1,2014.
Now,Tasmac earns fees on the purchase of liquor such as wholesalers vend fee and special privilege fee.We charge wholesalers vendor fees,special privilege fees and import licence fees for hard liquor and beer, a Tasmac official said.
The money generated from these fees goes to the state governments coffers.Accordingly,Tasmac charges about 140 per case as wholesalers vend fee and Rs 45 per case as special privilege fee.In case of imported liquor,it collects 300 per case as import licence fee.
satyanarayana.r@timesgroup.com


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Creamy layer limit for OBCs raised to 6 lakh 

Proposal Was Blocked Last Year 

Subodh Ghildiyal TNN 

New Delhi: OBCs earning over 6 lakh annually will not be eligible for reservation in jobs and education,with a group of ministers on Friday deciding to raise the creamy layer bar from 4.5 lakh as part of the revision done every four years.
The increase,however,marks a setback for the backward lobby of ministers that blocked the proposal for fixing the creamy layer at 6 lakh in the Cabinet last June,arguing that it did not reflect the fall in the value of currency and inflation.Creamy layer is the income limit beyond which OBCs are not eligible for quotas.
A group of ministers,headed by P Chidambaram,is learnt to have weighed in favour of retaining the income level suggested by the social justice ministry that ran into resistance in the Cabinet last year.It included HRD minister Pallam Raju,social justice minister Kumari Selja and MoS in PMO V Narayanasamy.
While there were murmurs that the bar be raised further,the finance minister argued that keeping the quota net too high would crowd out the genuinely poor and the needy among backwards.The higher the income ceiling,more people would qualify for reservations with a greater inclusion of affluent sections.It is seen to disadvantage the poor among OBCs.

LIMIT UP 1.5L 


Backward Classes panel had mooted income bar of 12 lakh to qualify for OBC quota in urban areas and 9 lakh in rural areas GoM led by Chidambaram settled on a uniform income ceiling of 6 lakh Ceiling started at 1 lakh in 1993,revised to 2.5 lakh in 2004 and 4.5lakh in 2008

GoMs creamy layer mark way below panel recommendation 

New Delhi: A group of ministers on Friday decided 0 to raise the creamy layer bar from Rs 4.5 lakh as part of the revision done every four years.
While the creamy layer would be final only once approved by the Union Cabinet,Narayanasamys presence in the GoM suggests a sense of finality.
Narayanasamy,along with petroleum minister Veerappa Moily and overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi,had opposed the Rs 6 lakh proposal in the Cabinet,saying that it should be at least Rs 7 lakh.The resistance forced the Prime Minister to refer the issue for consultations.
The Chidambaram-led ministerial panels move to keep a uniform Rs 6 lakh salary bar is way below the recommendation made by National Commission for Backward Classes that it should be Rs 12 lakh in urban areas and Rs 9 lakh in rural areas.
The social justice ministry is learnt to have rebuffed NCBC on various counts.It argued against a dual creamy layer for rural and urban areas,and questioned the panel for not doing due diligence.
The income ceiling was introduced at Rs 1 lakh in 1993 and was revised to Rs 2.50 lakh in 2004 and Rs 4.50 lakh in 2008.
As against the NCBCs suggestion of Rs 12 lakh that reflected Mandal satraps long-held aversion for the concept of creamy layer,the Centre seems to have been deterred by the backlash of a huge hike.
While there can be judicial challenge arguing that setting the bar too low is designed to neutralize the income ceiling,there are fears in the ruling dispensation that quota for rich OBCs would lead to demands from upper castes that their poor too be given reservations.


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The feeding frenzy of kleptocracy

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Since 2005-06, taxes and duties for the corporate world and the rich have been written off at the rate of Rs.7 million a minute on average. Duties waived on gold and diamonds in the last 36 months equal the 2G scam amount

Forbes has just added an “errata” to Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s budget speech. The Minister had found a mere 42,800 people in the country with a taxable income in excess of Rs.1 crore a year. Or $184,000 a year. Forbes, the Oracle of Business Journalism, does not list taxable incomes. But it does put up a list each year of billionaires the world over. And in 2013, 55 Indians figure on that list, (up from 48 last year) with an average net worth of around Rs.190.8 billion. (See:http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/)Their total net worth is $ 193.6 billion. That’s…er, Rs.10.5 trillion. Chidambaram might want to compare notes with Steve Forbes. They could come up with a lot more names falling within his narrow super-rich spectrum.

The 55 wonder-wallets give India fifth rank in the world of billionaires on the Forbes List. Behind only the U.S., China, Russia and Germany. Our rank in the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index, though, is 136 out of 186 nations. With almost all of Latin America and the Caribbean, bar Haiti, ahead of us. (We have, though, elsewhere managed to tie with Equatorial Guinea.)

CLASS DIVIDE

Well, okay, the total worth of our megabucks mob comes to just over $193 billion. But a glance within reveals a grim class divide. At the bottom are the aam aadmi tycoons, barely scraping past the one billion-dollar mark. There are four of them, inches away from plutocrat penury, with only a mere billion to their names. There are 17 in all below the BPL (Billionaire Permanency Line), which seems to be $1.5 billion. Once you cross that threshold, you tend to be a permanent member of the club.

There’s another 12 in the magnate middle classes, between $1.5 and $2 billion. Next, the deluxe segment: 16 of them — above $2 billion, below $5.5 billion. And finally, the big boys — above $6 billion each. The top 10 are worth $102.2 billion. (A bit more than our fiscal deficit of $96 billion.) There is also a platinum tier. The top three account for a quarter of our total billionaire wealth, if Forbes is to be believed.

I’m not sure Forbes is to be believed. All these sound like grave underestimates. Meanwhile the Chinese and Russians have forged ahead of us on the List. (Steve, I demand a recount). Either the Chinese and Russians are up to no good, or Indian creative accounting is keeping our numbers down. This fiasco becomes particularly galling when we’ve all been investing so heavily in the growth of our super-rich and better-off. Some $97 billion in this year’s budget. You can express that as Rs.5.28 lakh crore (as our tables do). Or, as Rs.5.28 trillion. It’s just as obscene either way. (See: Statement of Revenue Foregone http://indiabudget.nic.in/ub2013-14/statrevfor/annex12.pdf). Heck, we deserve a better performance from our billionaires.

One of the biggest write-offs in this year’s budget is the customs duty on gold, diamonds and jewellery — Rs.61,035 crore. That’s more than what’s been written off on “crude oil & mineral oils.” Or even on “machinery.” The waiver on gold and diamonds in just the last 36 months is Rs.1.76 trillion. (Or what we lost in the 2G scam). I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that three new Indian entrants to this year’s Forbes Billionaires List are in the field of jewellery.

It’s not as if we haven’t been generous with them in other sectors, though. The latest write-off in corporate income tax is even higher at Rs.68,006 crore. The total revenue foregone this year (Rs.5.28 trillion), as others have pointed out, is greater than the fiscal deficit. But just look at what the write-offs on corporate tax, excise and customs duties add up to since 2005-06, from when the data begins: Rs.31.11 trillion. (That’s well over half a trillion dollars). It also means we’re writing off taxes and duties for the corporate mob and rich at a rate of over Rs.7 million every single minute on average.

But the budget has almost nothing worthwhile for, say, health or education where there’s a decline compared to allocations last year (in proportion to GDP). Ditto for rural development. And a micro-rise for food that will quickly be taken care of by prices.

Gee. It seems there’s no need for the super-rich to commit half their fortunes to charity. They are the charity we all of us support. End the lavish waivers, pay your taxes and we’d be in glowing fiscal health. Every other economic survey and/or budget has noted the obscene write-offs as a source of worry and said so. Recall that the Prime Minister and Finance Minister have both in the past promised to end this corporate feeding frenzy at the public trough. But it only gets bigger.

What gets smaller is India’s tax to GDP ratio. In Mr. Chidambaram’s own words: “In 2011-12, the tax-GDP ratio was 5.5 per cent for direct taxes and 4.4 per cent for indirect taxes. These ratios are one of the lowest for any large developing country and will not garner adequate resources for inclusive and sustainable development.” (Emphasis added) But he does nothing to correct that by way of raising revenue. Only by curbing expenditures in the social sector. He’s nostalgic, though, for a time when “in 2007-08, the tax GDP ratio touched a peak of 11.9 per cent.” That was when the write-off trough was much smaller.

FOOD SECURITY

What also gets smaller is the idea of food security in a nation where the percentage of malnourished children is nearly double that of sub-Saharan Africa. How do they get past the porcine gridlock at the budget trough?

Also getting smaller is the average per capita net availability of foodgrain. And that’s despite showing an improved figure of 462.9 grams daily for 2011. (Caution: that’s a provisional number). Even then, the five-year average for 2007-11 comes to 444.6 grams. Still lower than the 2002-06 figure of 452.4 grams.

It’s scary: as we warned last year — average per capita net availability of foodgrain declined in every five-year period of the ‘reforms’ without exception. In the 20 years preceding the reforms — 1972-1991 — it rose every five-year period without exception (see: Table 3).

Ah, but they’re eating a lot of better stuff, hence the decline in cereals and pulses.

So drone on the Marie Antoinette School of Economics and assorted other clowns. Eating a lot better? Tell that to the nation’s children — for whom sub-Saharan standards would be an improvement. Tell that to the famished in a country ranking 65 in the 79 hungriest nations in the GlobalHunger Index (GHI). (Eight slots below Rwanda.) India’s GHI score in 2012 was worse than it was 15 years earlier in 1996. Tell it to Forbes. Maybe they could do a list of the most insensitive elites in the world. You know who’d top that one.

psainath@mtnl.net.in



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Coalgate: Met Minister,No Tampering,CBI to tell SC 

Agency likely to deny charges of governmental intervention in the probe 

OUR POLITICAL BUREAU NEW DELHI 

CBIs affidavit in the Supreme Court will confirm reports about its officials meeting law minister Ashwani Kumar over coalgate investigations.However,it will deny charges of governmental intervention in the probe,a source said.The affidavit,expected to be filed in the Supreme Court on Friday,will also reiterate its initial finding that due procedures were not followed while allocating coal blocks.That officials met law minister does not mean that the report was tampered with.There were some suggestions on legal points raised by the minister in that meeting,and they were incorporated.There was no change in substance or essence of the report, a source said.The CBI affidavit will argue that the law ministry is the nodal ministry for the investigating agency and such meetings with the minister are not extraordinary.The source said that CBI would point out that it is a practice to consult the nodal ministry in legal matters pertaining to higher courts.According to the source,the affidavit would have an annexure containing both the reports the one submitted to the law ministry and the final report prepared by the probe agency.The Supreme Court which can study both reports would be able to decide whether there has been any dilution in the report,the source said.To make its case stronger that there was no interference,CBI would point to the status report filed last month which alleged that the government had failed to check the financial and other records of companies that landed cheap coal licenses.There was no watering down or tampering in the key content or substance of the report by any minister of the government.It is evident from the fact that we have not absolved the government on any count in the previous status report.On the contrary,relevant government departments have been help accountable on multiple fronts, a top CBI official said.The controversy had led to the Opposition demanding resignation of Kumar for allegedly interfering with CBI functioning.There is reason to believe PMO officials were involved in the proposed changes to the coal report, said BJP leader Arun Jaitley,hours after the opposition in Parliament demanded the PMs resignation.


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Gross Inefficiencies in MNREGA Rollout: CAG 

While works of over.4k cr lying incomplete,projects undertaken for over.2k cr not permissible 

OUR BUREAU NEW DELHI 


The governments statutory auditor has found gross inefficiencies in the implementation of the UPA governments flagship rural employment generation scheme in its audit report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) faulted the government for works not permissible under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Act (MGNREGA),delays in issue of job cards,non-payment and delayed payment of wages,abandoning work midway and release of grants in excess of demand.It called for decisive steps to improve the implementation of the scheme,which is widely credited for returning UPA to power in 2009.It (scheme) needs to focus on developing intensive monitoring and evaluation systems, the CAG said and asked the government to address the manpower shortage,increase awareness among the beneficiaries and ensure strict compliance with required rules and lastly correct the deficiencies in the software,NREGASoft.The report drew heavy criticism from the government,which rebutted the CAGs findings based on review of the scheme in 3,848 gram panchayats in 28 states and four Union Territories over a five-year period beginning 2007.In my capacity as the rural development minister I had requested the CAG to conduct the performance audit of the scheme from 2007 till 2012.However it was meant to be a performance audit and not a forensic or a financial audit, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said in a briefing.I havent found any constructive suggestions in any CAG reports Ramesh said dismissing the report.The government has budgeted.33,000 crore for the scheme in the current year. the monitoring at the central level was unsatisfactory and the Central Council could not fulfill its statutory mandate of establishing a central evaluation and monitoring system even after six years of its existence. the CAG said in its report.The report noted that employment generated declined from 283.59 crore person days in 2009-10 to 216.34 crore person days in 2011-12.The completion of works also saw a significant decline in 2011-12.Rebutting the CAG finding,Ramesh said 72% of the target beneficiaries were aware of their rights,80% of them belonged to the marginalized sections,and 90% of the beneficiaries were poorest of the poor.
He said that post the audit period work completion rate had improved significantly as 98 lakh works had been completed since inception,a 54% rate of completion.The CAG has reported a 30% work completion rate for the audit period.Lastly,the minister blamed poor record keeping mechanisms for the discrepancy in the actual amount of work done and work recorded.The gram panchayats dont yet have the mechanism to keep records so the actual amount of work completed is higher than the reported he said.However,the minister did agree to the CAGs finding that there was a decline in the proportion of works completed in 2011-12 mainly in Bihar,Maharashtra,Uttar Pradesh.The CAG has reported that these states which together account for 46 % of the rural poor were able to utilise only 20 % of the central schemes funds.

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