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Punjab: CBI likely to visit Faridkot to probe holy book sacrilege incident

Punjab Police will provide the required logistical support and offer its co-operation to the CBI in conducting the investigations, the spokesman added.

The incidents saw massive protest by Sikh activists in Faridkot which even led to the death of two persons allegedly in police firing.

A CBI team is likely to visit Faridkot for investigating the alleged sacrilege incidents in the area, that led to massive protests in the state and killing of two youth. Punjab government had on November 1 handed over the probe into the sacrilege incidents in Bargari village at Faridkot, to the CBI. “In pursuance of Punjab Government notification dated 9-11-2015, the Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India issued a notification dated 5-11-2015 transferring to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigation of cases dated 2-6-2015, 25-9-2015 and 12-10-2015 of Police Station Baza Khana, district Faridkot,” a Punjab police spokesman said here this evening.”The CBI has re-registered these FIRs as Regular Cases (RC) and a team of CBI officers will be visiting Faridkot shortly in connection with the investigation of the above-mentioned cases,” he further said in a release.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Police will provide the required logistical support and offer its co-operation to the CBI in conducting the investigations, the spokesman added. The three sacrilege cases were registered at the Bajakhana police station in Faridkot district. These related to the theft of Guru Granth Sahib at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village in June and the putting up of posters in Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala villages in September. The third incident involved inciting Sikhs to protest against the theft of the holy book and the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib with torn pages of the holy book being found at Bargari in October.The incidents saw massive protest by Sikh activists in Faridkot which even led to the death of two persons allegedly in police firing. The government had earlier set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under ADGP I P S Sahota to probe the matter. The SIT had arrested two brothers, identified as Rupinder Singh and Jaswinder Singh, of Panjgrain village of Faridkot, in connection with the Bargari village incident.Sikhs owing allegiance to various groups, including hardliners, had been seeking the arrest of “real culprits” as they alleged that the two brothers were “falsely implicated”.Under intense attack over handling of the situation, the SAD government had also shunted out Punjab police chief Sumedh Singh Saini, who was replaced with Suresh Arora.

Absconding accused in 2002 Godhra train burning arrested

Ahmedabad: An accused in Sabarmati Express train burning incident who was absconding since 2002 was arrested by the Godhra Local Crime Branch (LCB) in Gujarat’s Panchmahal district on Friday, police said.

Farookh Mohammad Dhantiya (45) was nabbed by the LCB on a specific tip off from his residence near Issac mosque in Signal Falia area near Godhra railway station this morning, sub-inspector of Godhra LCB, HB Zala, said.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“Dhantiya has been on the run after the incident that took place on 27 February, 2002. Recently, we learnt that he is living at Signal Falia in Godhra and was nabbed this morning. He will be handed over to the Special Investigating Team (SIT), formed to investigate the incident for further probe,” said Zala.

Dhantiya is the third ‘wanted accused’ in the case to be arrested by the Godhra LCB in the recent past.

Earlier, on 16 July, LCB had nabbed one Kadir Abdul Gani from Godhra town and handed him over to SIT, while one Hussain Suleman Mohan (35) was held from Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh on 23 July.

As many as 58 people had died when the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was torched at Godhra railway station on 27 February, 2002. The incident had triggered large scale riots in the state in which around 1,000 people, mostly of a minority community, were killed.

A court in February 2011 had convicted 31 persons in connection with the incident. Out of the 31, 11 were awarded death penalty, while 20 were sentenced to life term.

PTI

Dalit boy death: SIT formed to investigate case, Khattar maintains boy committed suicide

The move to form the SIT-headed by a DSP came as Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar came under attack for claiming that the boy, Govind, had committed suicide.

Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar

PTI
A Special Investigation Team has been formed to probe the death of a 15-year-old Dalit youth in Gohana here, a day after two ASIs were booked on murder charges following allegations from the family that he died in police custody.The move to form the SIT-headed by a DSP came as Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar came under attack for claiming that the boy, Govind, had committed suicide.Police said the postmortem, which was conducted by a board of doctors, showed that the boy died due to hanging.”The SIT has been formed in the case. The report of the postmortem, which was conducted by a board of doctors, says that the boy died due to hanging. There was also a mark on his neck,” the Rohtak Range Inspector General of Police, Shrikant Jadhav, told PTI today. On the directions of Jadhav, a SIT had also been formed to conduct further investigations in the case.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The SIT will be headed by Rohtak Police DSP rank officer Amit Bhatia,” Superintendent of Police, Sonipat, Abhishek Garg said on Saturday. He said the situation in Gohana town was peaceful after protests by the boy’s family, which had alleged that he was beaten by police and died in custody after being accused of pigeon theft.The two Assistant Sub-inspectors were booked on murder charges and also under sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on the direction of National Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Commission.On Friday, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had told reporters here that “the post mortem report will throw light on why the suicide took place and for what reasons.” He had said the boy’s family was involved in a dispute with another family over some money and pigeon and that the boy was not questioned and he had himself gone to the police station.Congress had attacked the Chief Minister for claiming that the boy had committed suicide even before the investigation was completed.”When Chief Minister of the state like ML Khattar will pre-judge a case before investigation, may I ask who will punish the guilty in this country. It is shameful, it is condemnable and it is reprehensible,” chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala had said. He alleged that it reflected a mindset which is anti-dalit, anti-poor and anti-backward that is “taught in the school of RSS and BJP.”The Gohana incident had come close on the heels of two Dalit children being burnt alive at Sunped village in Faridabad district.

SC rejection of Sanjiv Bhatt’s plea brought out the truth: BJP

New Delhi: The BJP on Wednesday said Supreme Court judgement rejecting Sanjiv Bhatt’s plea for SIT probe in 2002 riots has brought out the truth and confirmed its apprehensions about Congress patronising pressure groups to defame Narendra Modi and Gujarat for years, and asked it to learn some lessons.

“Today it is a matter of great assurance for us,” senior BJP leader and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on the Supreme Court judgement, adding that it is regrettable and unfortunate that the then serving IPS officer was allowing his office to be manipulated for pure partisan act of Congress party.

Sanjiv Bhatt. IBNLive

Sanjiv Bhatt. IBNLive

“We have been saying for years, how Congress party wanted to exploit some NGO, including manipulation of a section of the media, against Gujarat and Narendra Modi. Our apprehension has been upheld by the Supreme Court, which has cleared the air about this. We condemn all this as the truth has finally come out,” he said.

Prasad added that Congress party has lost the elections repeatedly and they are going to lose in Bihar also. “But may be, the time has come that Congress party will learn some lessons,” he said.

“What is truly remarkable is the Supreme Court in its judgement has confirmed with positive evidence all the apprehensions we had for last so many years. Namely, there is a group, patronised by Congress party, of NGO’s of selected bureaucrats, civil servants and police officers who are doing their bidding to defame the Gujarat government and Narendra Modi and Amit Shah,” he said.

Speaking about former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, he said, he was in close association with Congress party and was e-mailing it about the proceedings before Nanawati Commission.

“He was trying to manipulate a section of the media for his own extraneous purposes and what not, including colluding with the NGO of Teesta Setalvad. This is regrettable. This is unfortunate,” Prasad said.

On Congress’s contention that neither it nor any NGO is part of the petition before the Supreme Court, Prasad said there is a proper judgement of the Supreme Court that said Sanjiv Bhatt was sending his emails to Congress leaders.

“There is a clear finding. A serving police officer was exchanging emails with the Congress party. Is it not a fact that he was also conveying his misgivings to the Congress party that their lawyer did not ask proper questions in the Nanawati Commission. Is it not a fact that his wife contested as a Congress candidate. All this is at large,” he said.

Sacked Gujarat cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was rebuked for his conduct of contacting opposition Congress party, NGOs and their activists to influence the Supreme Court which on Tuesday said he has not come up with “clean hands” to question the lodging of criminal cases against him.

The apex court dismissed his petitions seeking a court-monitored SIT probe in relation to the two FIRs against him for allegedly forcing his subordinate to file an affidavit in a 2002 riots case and hacking e-mail of a senior law officer, who is now an Additional Solicitor General.

PTI

SC turns down Sanjiv Bhatt’s plea seeking an SIT probe, clears way for proceedings against him

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the plea of sacked Gujarat cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt seeking a court-monitored SIT probe in relation to the two FIRs lodged against him for allegedly forcing his subordinate to file an affidavit in a 2002 riots case and hacking email of a law officer.

The bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra also said the trial in these two cases be conducted “expeditiously.”

Bhatt, who had earlier sought a CBI inquiry into the two FIRs, later changed his prayer and sought a court-monitored SIT probe on the grounds that now the persons against whom he has certain grievances, are now running the government at the centre.

File photo. Image courtesy: ibnliveFile photo. Image courtesy: ibnlive

File photo. Image courtesy: ibnlive

The former IPS officer had also sought to implead BJP president Amit Shah, the then MoS Home in the state government and RSS functionary S Gurumurthy as parties in his petition, which was also rejected.

The IPS officer, dismissed from service on August 18 this year, had filed the petition in the apex court in 2011 against the lodging of FIRs against him by the Gujarat Police.

On September 23, the apex court had reserved its verdict after the Gujarat government had rubbished the claim of Bhatt that he was present at a meeting to discuss the law and order situation during the 2002 communal violence at residence of the then chief minister.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Bhatt, had alleged collusion among top state government functionaries, the then Additional Advocate General, the then minister of state for home and some lawyers for the accused and sought court-monitored SIT probe into Bhatt’s claims.

Jaising had argued that an SIT probe, instead of seeking a CBI investigation, was needed to inquire into the “collusion of the highest order” as the then chief minister is now the Prime Minister and the then AAG is now the Additional Solicitor General of India.

Senior advocate L Nageshwar Rao, appearing for then Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta, had alleged that Bhatt was trying to revive whatever happened since 2002.

PTI

Govind Pansare murder case: Bombay HC asks SIT what steps have been taken to nab suspect

The bench was hearing petitions filed by the kin of Dabholkar and Pansare seeking the High Court to monitor the probe.

Pansare was shot dead outside his residence in Kolhapur in February this year.
File Photo
PTI
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday sought to know from a Special Investigating Team (SIT) of state CID what steps it has taken to arrest 2009 Goa blast accused Rudra Patil, an alleged member of right wing group Sanatan Sanstha and prime suspect in the murder of social activist Govind Pansare.A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Rajesh Ketkar directed the SIT to file a report stating steps taken by it to apprehend Patil by October 20. The direction was passed after the bench was informed that Sameer Gaikwad of Sanatan Sanstha, who was arrested recently in the Pansare murder case, was a friend of Patil. The court also directed CBI, which is probing the murder of another rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, to submit its investigation report by October 20.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bench was hearing petitions filed by the kin of Dabholkar and Pansare seeking the High Court to monitor the probe. Both the agencies today submitted confidential reports to the court. After perusing the SIT’s report, Justice More said “the report is silent on what steps have been taken to arrest Rudra Patil.”The court also expressed displeasure over the state’s failure to appoint a special public prosecutor in the case and said “it is really sorry state of affairs that in such sensitive cases special public prosecutors are not appointed.” Calling for fresh probe reports by October 20, the bench said “we want to satisfy ourselves that investigation is moving in the proper direction.”The High Court had in May last year transferred the probe in Dabholkar murder case to CBI from state police after his family petitioned the High Court. Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune on August 20, 2013.Pansare was shot dead outside his residence in Kolhapur in February this year.

Black money SIT wants list of companies registered on single address

The SIT is set to file its third report on black money before the apex court on Wednesday (today).

To tighten the noose against companies flouting laws to stash away black money, the Supreme Court (SC)-appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT) has asked the corporate affairs ministry to furnish a list detailing the number of companies registered on a single address.The SIT is set to file its third report on black money before the apex court on Wednesday (today).A government source told dna that the SIT has also sought details of how many persons are directors in more than 20 companies. Under the Companies Act, one person is allowed to be director in 20 companies. If a person exceeds this number, there is a grace period of one year. If he does not resign after the expiry of this grace period, a penalty ranging from Rs 5,000 to 25,000 per day can be imposed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a recent SIT meeting, attended by vice-chairman Justice Arijit Pasayat and other members, including the senior officers from Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income-Tax (I-T), the possible hawala transactions taking place in these company addresses, apparently not genuine, were discussed. Declared unaccounted wealth of companies by September 30 and the number of people on company boards were also discussed.The SIT asked the ED and I-T officials to act against these companies and the directors.The SC had set up the SIT on June 2011 to to bring back black money stashed away by Indians in various banks abroad, following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani.As per the finance ministry, unaccounted money worth Rs 4,147 were declared by September 30, the last day of a compliance window to declare black money salted away overseas.The individuals who declared this money include doctors, engineers and former senior managers who used to work overseas. These professionals formed the biggest chunk of those who declared unaccounted money.

Julio F Ribeiro puts CBI in the dock over Yadav Singh case

Ribeiro has referred to the recent Allahabad High Court judgment in a PIL whereby the court had directed a CBI probe into the Yadav Singh scam.

JF Ribeiro

One-time top cop Julio F Ribeiro has written to the chairman of the SIT on black money, Justice (retired) MB Shah, urging him to ensure monitoring of the Yadav Singh investigation by the SIT.In his letter, Ribeiro has put the CBI in the dock, raising questions over the fairness in its functioning. He accused the CBI of treating the former Noida chief engineer Yadav Singh ‘with kid gloves’ and also said that he was being shielded by his political associates. The former Punjab DGP even charged the CBI with carrying out orders of the political masters in power.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ribeiro is part of India Rejuvenation Initiative, a group of retired top officials campaigning for probity in public life. Among the other prominent members are Justice RC Lahoti, former Chief Justice of India, JM Lyngdoh, former Chief Election Commissioner, and Prakash Singh, ex-DGP, UP.Ribeiro has referred to the recent Allahabad High Court judgment in a PIL whereby the court had directed a CBI probe into the Yadav Singh scam.He said this judgment was based ‘almost entirely’ on the Supreme Court order in an IRI PIL on black money, and the letter of 24 February 2015 from the Union Government on the instruction of the SIT on black money, which had directed the CBI to take up the investigation.”We feel that CBI should have registered the case in February 2015 itself when it had been directed by SIT to do so,” Ribeiro said in his letter.”However, even now, when CBI has belatedly filed a case and commenced investigation following the decision by the Allahabad High Court, it appears that Shri Yadav Singh is being treated with kid’s glove by the CBI for reasons best known to itself! No arrests have been made so far and it appears that enough time is being given to all concerned to’tamper with evidence and once the case is off public glare, the matter will be put in cold storage given the alleged involvement of several top leaders of different political parties,” Ribeiro says, putting the CBI and Yadav Singh’s political abettors in the dock at the same time.”We have reasons to believe that even premier investigating agencies like CBI, instead of doing investigation as per the laid down law, act as per the wishes of those in power. Who is to be arrested and who is to be let off, is decided by those in power with no correlation to the evidence available in the matter.This is amply clear from the way our premier agencies have over the years investigated high profile cases like Bofors, HDW deal, Harshad Mehta case, Hawala case, Madhu Koda case, 2G Case, Coal Gate, CWG scam, Cash for Vote case, DA cases of high profile politicians, to name a few,” Ribeiro lashed out.He said that in all these investigations CBI acted in a partisan manner, did not do its job properly and let the real culprits go scot free, further eroding the faith of people in the system.”It would be a pity if this were to happen in a case taken up by CBI at the instance of SIT, which has now been upheld by the Allahabad High Court,” he added.He urged the SIT to closely monitor the CBI investigation and set a reasonable time frame for completion of investigation. “We, in the IRI, are also closely observing the pace and quality of investigation and will be happy to provide our inputs to SIT from time to time. We hope and pray that the experiment of SIT will succeed,” Ribeiro stated.

Vyapam scam: CBI official probing case found unconscious at Jhansi station

The officer was on his way to Gwalior aboard Malwa Express.

The CBI’s additional SP Bindu Shekhar Jha who was investigating the Vyapam scam, was found unconscious on Thursday at Jhansi station. The officer was on his way to Gwalior aboard Malwa Express.Taking the Vyapam scam probe forward, CBI today carried out searches at nearly 40 places in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh including the premises of alleged mastermind Jagdish Sagar and Dhanraj Yadav, a former OSD to Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav. The searches in connection with alleged irregularities in the conduct of examinations by MP Professional Examination Board, popularly known as Vyapam, spanned across Bhopal, Indore, Ujjain, Rewa, Jabalpur, Lucknow and Allahabad among other cities, CBI sources said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They said the searches are not case specific and were aimed at unravelling the larger conspiracy of alleged corrupt practices in the conduct of the examinations. The residential premises of Dhanraj Yadav, former OSD to MP Governor Ram Naresh Yadav, in Lucknow, alleged mastermind Jagdish Sagar, former MP Minister Laxmikant Sharma and other suspects including Bharat Mishra, Vinod Bhandari, Sudhir Sharma, Om Prakash Sharma, Nitin Mahindra among others are being searched, they said.The sources said the office of MP Professional Examination Board is also being searched by the CBI team. The agency has registered over 105 cases in connection with various aspects of Vyapam scam. The Supreme Court has directed CBI to take over all Vyapam scam matters irrespective of their present status. “Whatever is the stage of the case, you (CBI) will have to take over all the matters,” a bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu had said, while allaying the apprehension of CBI that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and Special Task Force (STF) of state police may not cooperate with it if it takes over the cases which were in trial stage. “You take over and the SIT/STF will cooperate with you, We will ask them to co-operate,” the bench, which also comprised justices C Nagappan and Amitava Roy, had said.Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for CBI, had said there were difficulties in taking over 72 cases, which were at different stages of trial, as they were being prosecuted by SIT/STF and their investigation officers (IOs) may not extend cooperation to the CBI.

Gujarat government rubbishes allegations of sacked IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in Supreme Court

“The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) had come to the conclusion that the petitioner (Bhatt) was not present at all in the February 27 meeting,” Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the state, told the court which reserved its verdict on the pleas of the dismissed IPS officer.

The Gujarat government on Wednesday rubbished in the Supreme Court the claim of sacked IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt that he was present at a meeting to discuss law and order situation during the 2002 communal violence at residence of the then Chief Minister.”The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) had come to the conclusion that the petitioner (Bhatt) was not present at all in the February 27 meeting,” Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the state, told the court which reserved its verdict on the pleas of the dismissed IPS officer.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bhatt had recently filed two interim applications seeking a SIT probe into allegation of misuse of state machinery during 2002 post-Godhra riots and the alleged roles of top BJP and RSS functionaries and some senior bureaucrats.The counsel for the state referred to the contents of various communications of Bhatt, then Deputy Commissioner (Security), and told the bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra that the officer was in constant touch with Congress leader and the then Leader of Opposition in Gujarat assembly and some top journalists.”An unsolicited affidavit was tendered in the Supreme Court and that was an attempt to mislead the court,” he said, alleging that Bhatt had showed an affidavit to a journalist who advised additions which were incorporated as well.The SG, assisted by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, alleged that Bhatt was in “constant touch” with certain Congress party leaders, activist Teesta Setalwad and top media professionals.Earlier on Wednesday, senior advocate Indira Jaising and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Bhatt, alleged collusion among top state government functionaries, the then Additional Advocate General, the then minister of state for home and some lawyers for the accused and sought court- monitored SIT probe into Bhatt’s claims.Jaising said that a SIT probe, instead of seeking CBI investigation, was needed to inquire into the “collusion of the highest order” as the then Chief Minister is now the Prime Minister and the then AAG is now the Additional Solicitor General of India. Senior advocate L Nageshwar Rao, appearing for then Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta, alleged that Bhatt was trying to revive whatever happened since 2002.The SC-appointed SIT probed nine cases, convictions have taken place in some and appeals have also been filed against them, he said.”The attempt is to revive what happened since 2002 and has been settled. They have nothing to say blameworthy and unethical on the part of Tushar Mehta and he cannot be blamed for impeding the end of justice,” he said.Rao said the apex court had said the SIT probe was an extra-ordinary measure and moreover, Jaising was seeking CBI probe into Vyapam scam and here, a demand for SIT is made.”In Vyapam case, Indira Jaising asked for CBI probe and had no complaints against the CBI that it was under the supervision of the present government at the Centre.”The earlier government faced several charges of corruption and who investigated the cases. It was the CBI which was the only premier agency to investigate all those cases of scams. Everybody asked for CBI investigation,” he said.The bench later stopped Jaising from referring to Vyapam scam saying that matter is “sub judice” and lawyers should not comment about it.Rao claimed if the demand of Bhatt for a SIT probe was accepted, there would be flooding of frivolous pleas like this in the apex court.On alleged hacking of Mehta’s mails, the lawyer said, “He (Bhatt) betrayed me. Betrayed my friendship and caused so much of agony to me… nobody is listening to his hacking of e- mails.”Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Gujarat police constable K D Panth who had lodged an FIR against Bhatt, said the credibility of the former IPS officer is “doubtful” and there are several cases against him.On allegations against some SIT members, Singh said, “I had represented some members of the SIT. I experienced that it was the easiest thing to make allegations against the SIT members even if there was nothing against them. This court never doubted any members whether it was the Chairman or any other member.””Panth was forced to give affidavit by Bhatt who threatened him and said that Modi is not going to stay for long as the Chief Minister,” he said.Advancing rejoinder arguments at the end of the day-long proceedings, Jaising said, “I am asking for further investigation, so you have to see what is the scope of the investigation. Whether it can be done by the Gujarat Police, CBI or the SIT etc.”My submission is the scope of investigation has to include within its ambit the fact that the FIR is based on a false statement. This FIR is lodged in vested interest to deny my presence in the meeting with the CM.”Earlier, the counsel for Bhatt had alleged that he was victimised and targeted by the state government, whose strategy was to shoot the messenger for his bold speaking on the handling of law and order situation during the 2002 riots.Jaising had also said that the e-mail accounts of Mehta would show how a top BJP leader, an RSS functionary and some bureaucrats were coming in the way of the administration of justice in the riot cases and encounter cases.The IPS officer, dismissed from service on August 18 this year, had filed the petitions in the apex court in 2011 against the lodging of FIRs against him by the Gujarat Police.One of the petitions pertains to an FIR lodged by Gujarat police constable K D Panth in Ahmedabad alleging that Bhatt had pressurised him to sign an affidavit testifying that the IPS officer had participated in a high-level meeting after the Godhra carnage.In another FIR, he has been accused of allegedly hacking then state’s Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta’s e-mail account.In fresh applications, the sacked IPS officer had also sought to implead top BJP and RSS leaders and senior IAS officers alleging that they were part of a larger conspiracy to subvert the ends of justice.The apex court had earlier stayed criminal proceedings against the officer.He has sought fresh investigation against him in all cases with a plea for direction to internet service providers to preserve all data he has put in the applications.

MM Kalburgi murder: Karnataka police quiz Sanatan Sanstha activist Sameer Gaikwad

Looking for possible links, Karnataka Police, probing the murder case of Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi, today questioned Sanatan Sanstha activist Samir Gaikwad arrested in connection with the murder of Communist leader and rationalist Govind Pansare in Kolhapur.

Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi

PTI photo
Looking for possible links, Karnataka Police, probing the murder case of Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi, today questioned Sanatan Sanstha activist Samir Gaikwad arrested in connection with the murder of Communist leader and rationalist Govind Pansare in Kolhapur.Superintendent of Police of Karnataka CID S Rajappa along with other officials grilled Gaikwad in connection with the Kalbugi murder murder case, an official of Special Investigation Team (SIT) said.On Monday, another senior officer of Karnataka CID conducted some preliminary enquiries here regarding the possible links the hardline outfit with murder of Kalburgi, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gaikwad was arrested from Sangli on September 16 in connection with Pansare’s murder by the SIT of Maharashtra Police probing the case.”Gaikwad could be handed over to Karnataka Police as per decision of the local court,” the official said, adding Gaikwad’s police custody ends tomorrow.”Police have also launched a manhunt for Pravin Limkar, a suspect in 2009 Madgoan blast case, along with Rudra Patil and Sarang Kulkarni (also suspected accused in Madgaon blast case),” a police officer said on condition of anonymity.The official added that police are also probing the role of a woman who had attended a meeting in January in Sankeshwar, Karnataka, where the plan to murder Pansare was suspected to have been hatched.82-year-old Pansare and his wife Uma were shot at by two motorcycle-borne youths on February 16 near their home in Kolhapur. Pansare died four days later at the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai while his wife survived the attack, suffering injuries that crippled her.Kalburgi, who often courted controversies with his outspoken stand on various issues including idol worship, was shot dead at point-blank range by two unidentified men at his residence in Dharwad on August 30.

Supreme Court to hear pleas of ex-IPS Sanjiv Bhatt today

The IPS officer had filed petitions in the apex court in 2011 against the lodging of FIRs against him by the Gujarat Police.

Supreme Court would hear the pleas of dismissed Gujarat Cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt seeking SIT probe into allegation of misuse of state machinery during 2002 post-Godhra riots and the alleged roles of top BJP and RSS functionaries and some senior bureaucrats on Tuesday.The applications were mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu by senior advocate Indira Jaising on behalf of Bhatt, who was sacked on August 18.The IPS officer had filed petitions in the apex court in 2011 against the lodging of FIRs against him by the Gujarat Police.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One of the petitions pertains to an FIR lodged by a Gujarat police constable in Ahmedabad alleging that Bhatt had pressurised him to sign an affidavit testifying that the IPS officer participated in a high-level meeting after the Godhra carnage.In another FIR, he has been accused of allegedly hacking then state’s Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta’s e-mail account. Mehta is currently the Additional Solicitor General of India.In fresh applications, the sacked IPS officer had also sought to implead top BJP and RSS leaders and senior IAS officers alleging that they were were part of a larger conspiracy to subvert ends of justice.The apex court had earlier stayed the criminal proceedings against the officer.In the applications, he has submitted that in 2011, he had sought probe by the CBI but now since the agency is under the control of the Centre, there was a need of an independent Special Investigating Team (SIT) to probe both the cases.He has sought fresh investigation against him in all cases with a plea for direction to internet service providers to preserve all data he has put in the applications.

Supreme Court wants progress report on black money by October 7

“The attorney general will tell us what the Centre has done on the recommendations of the SIT,” a bench comprising chief justice H L Dattu and justices M B Lokur and A K Sikri said while posting the hearing for October 28.

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the special investigation team (SIT) on black money to submit the fourth report on the progress of its probe by October 7 and sought to know from the Centre about the steps taken to implement SIT’s recommendations to bring back illegal money stashed in foreign banks.”The attorney general will tell us what the Centre has done on the recommendations of the SIT,” a bench comprising chief justice H L Dattu and justices M B Lokur and A K Sikri said while posting the hearing for October 28.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The SIT told the Supreme Court that it has given certain recommendations to the Centre suggesting a need for stringent legal provisions on Participatory Notes in foreign investments and cricket betting, especially in IPL, to curb the unaccounted money.It also recommended for legislative changes to deal with the routing of black money through donations in the education sector, religious bodies and charities.Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the SIT, informed the bench that the subsequent report on the progress of investigation would be complete by the month end. It sought its nod to place before the court in October.His request that attorney general Mukul Rohatgi be asked to inform about the action taken by the Centre on SIT’s recommendation was also accepted by the bench.Advocate Prashant Bhushan raised the issue of SIT’s third report submitted to the apex court in May and claimed that some portions of it have emerged in newspapers which made reference to Participatory Notes (P-Notes) for investing around Rs 3 lakh crore in the stock market.However, the bench, which perused the report, said, “We don’t think that is there in the report. May 2015 report is the last report we have received”.P-Notes are instruments issued by registered foreign institutional investors to overseas investors, who wish to invest in the Indian stock markets without registering themselves with market regulator SEBI.While Bhushan was making his submission, the attorney general objected saying he had no locus in the matter.Dave said the issue of black money was a sensitive matter and its discussion in public like this is not proper.Earlier in the last hearing, noted jurist Ram Jethmalani on whose petition the SIT was constituted, had accused the NDA government and the previous UPA dispensation of failure to bring back black money stashed abroad.He had also attacked the SIT, saying it is “loaded with people who are loyal to the previous government”.Jethmalani had said the July, 2011 judgment has been frustrated by successive governments which have played a “grave fraud” on the nation and the people.With inputs from agencies

SIT to hand over criminal inquiry into illegal iron ore mining to CBI

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by former Justice MB Shah will hand over criminal probe into the illegal iron ore mining scam to the CBI. To start with, CBI would be looking at Odisha, where illegal iron ore mining is pegged at over Rs 59,000 crore.The scam involves several companies including big names like Odisha Mining Corporation Ltd (OMC), Sharda Mines (P) Ltd, Tata Steel, Serajudin and Company, KJS Ahluwalia, Mideast Integrated Steel Ltd (MESCO), Rungta Mines, BICO, Indrani Patnaik, Aryan Mining and several others.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The companies have been indicted on several grounds like illegal renewal of licences, transfer of leases, mining without forest clearances, encroachments, illegal iron exports, revenue losses and corruption. Apart from these companies, the scam also involves role of state government officials and politicians.Highly placed sources in SIT told dna, “The idea was mooted by former justice Arijit Passayat as the state governments and other government departments have failed to take any action. Justice Shah too supported the idea and the decision came unanimously.” The team also includes officials from CBDT, income tax, enforcement directorate, central excise and other government departments.A member of SIT on condition of anonymity said, “SIT would soon meet CBI officials to chalk out modalities as the investigation agency is under manpower crunch and has already conveyed it. The date is not finalised yet.”Interestingly, in an interview to dna investigating team last week, when asked if he is disappointed as mining leases of miners indicted by him have got renewal, Justice Shah said, “No question of disappointment. I had suggested CBI inquiry and probably other departments will suggest the same. I feel there would be a CBI inquiry.”The illegal iron ore mining in Odisha has been probed by two agencies till date. In 2010, Centre appointed Justice MB Shah committee to look into illegal iron ore mining in states of Odisha, Goa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, but wrapped it before it could investigate Chhattisgarh. Similarly, Supreme Court also appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) was also asked to probe the scam and present its report.According to the Shah Commission report during 2000-01 to 2009-10, the Odisha state government had issued 146 notices for excess/illegal mining or iron and manganese extraction amounting to Rs 59,203 crore and had asked the state government to recover it.The commission report clearly stated that average profit on per tonne of iron ore increased from Rs 139.78 per tonne in 2001-2002 to Rs 3,237.64 per tonne in 2010-11 for the companies mining in Odisha. Besides, in 2011, South Eastern Railway detected cases of freight charge evasion and issued demand notices to 14 companies for Rs 1,874 crore.In case of Sarda Mines, CEC alleged serious illegalities and irregularities. It had found “unholy nexus” between Sharda Mines and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL). The committee probed into allegations that Sharda Mines is actually owned and controlled by Jindal Steel and Power Ltd through its business associates, ex-employees and directors/employees of associated companies of JSPL.Similarly, various companies like OMDC, Tata Steel, Serajudin and Company, Rungta Mines Ltd, BICO, Rungta Songs (P) Ltd along with nine other companies were found to extract iron ore above 50 lakh million tonnes illegally. These 14 lessees account for 72.83 percent and 57.86 percent respectively of production of iron ore and manganese. The Shah commission in its report had said that since this is one of the biggest illegal mining ever observed by the commission, it is strongly felt that this is a fit case to be handed over to CBI, for further investigation and follow up action. It also suggested CBI to investigate into allegations of corruption against politicians, bureaucrats and others. Shah commission had nailed several bureaucrats and officials from forest and mining department apart from railways.

Hearing on Ehsan Jafri’s petition on 2002 Gujarat riots conspiracy starts

Asserting that there was “a larger conspiracy” behind the riots, Zakia Jafri’s lawyer Desai said “what happened post-February 27, 2002 (Godhra train burning incident) was not spontaneous outpouring of anger of people.

Zakia Jafri

File Photo
The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday began the hearing on the petition filed by Zakia Jafri against a lower court’s order upholding the clean chit given by Special Investigation Team to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others with regard to the 2002 riots. Jafri’s husband, former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, was among those who were killed in the riots.Advocate Mihir Desai, Jafri’s lawyer, today argued before Justice Sonia Gokani. The magistrate’s court had wrongly held that it cannot order investigation of riots cases because it did not fall in its jurisdiction, Desai said. Neither SIT nor the magistrate’s court considered the first interim probe report of SIT filed by its member A K Malhotra when the case was before the Supreme Court, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that there was “a larger conspiracy” behind the riots, Desai said “what happened post-February 27, 2002 (Godhra train burning incident) was not spontaneous outpouring of anger of people. A built-up was allowed which led to February 28 (riots). “It might be a reaction on what happened on February 27. But there was a failure to impose curfew and the failure to take precautionary measures to ensure that the Bandh (in protest against Godhra incident) should be peaceful,” he said. Desai also pointed out certain hate speeches contributed to the riots.Jafri had filed a complaint in the Supreme Court against Modi (the then Chief Minister of Gujarat) and 62 others including state ministers, police officials and BJP leaders, alleging that they were part of a wider conspiracy behind the post-Godhra riots.The SC asked SIT to probe it. In February 2012, SIT filed a closure report before the magistrate giving a clean chit to Modi and others. Jafri’s petition against SIT report was rejected by the metropolitan magistrate BJ Ganatra, so she moved the High Court.

Vyapam scam: Supreme Court asks CBI to inform it within 3 weeks on taking over maximum cases

The Supreme Court on Friday told CBI to inform it in three weeks about taking over of investigation of maximum number of cases out of 185 arising from Madhya Pradesh’s Vyapam scam.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday told CBI to inform it in three weeks about taking over of investigation of maximum number of cases out of 185 arising from Madhya Pradesh’s Vyapam scam.The apex court also asked the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) that it should be in a position by next date of hearing on August 7 to fill necessary vacancies in the CBI as the agency has complained that shortage of man power was coming in the way of probe.It sought the assistance of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on the issue of filling of vacancies in the CBI.”You should be in a position to tell us we (CBI) have taken up the maximum cases,” a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy said while making it clear to Solicitor General Ranjit<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kumar that three weeks time would be sufficient for taking over the cases for investigations from Special Task Force (STF) and Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Madhya Pradesh.The bench said CBI should be in a position to complete within six weeks the task of appointing lawyers to prosecute the cases in various special CBI courts in Madhya Pradesh.It was in disagreement with the CBI that stress should be on setting up of more special courts, at least five in Bhopal. The Solicitor General said that the Madhya Pradesh High Court has come out with a notification that CBI courts shall be located all over the state.”We have so much of faith in you. You take up the cases. Whether it is in Bhopal, Jabalpur, Guna or any other place. You will have your own counsel for prosecution,” the bench said.At the outset, the Solicitor General said there are all together 185 cases and charge sheets have been filed in 78 of them and the priority of the CBI is to take over those cases in which the investigation was undergoing.He said 55 cases are being examined by the STF/SIT and out of the remaining 130 cases, charge sheets have been filed in 49 and out of 81 which are under probe, 73 are related to cheating by candidates in examination which the CBI was preferring to take up at a later stage.He said preliminary inquiry was being carried out in one death case and in another regular case has been registered.

Karnataka Lokayukta’s son remanded to 10-day SIT custody

The prosecution had submitted before judge G V Bopaiah that it was necessary for the SIT to keep Ashwin Rao in custody for at least 14 days, to arrive at the truth.

The Lokayukta court sent state Lokayukta Bhaskar Rao’s son to 10-day SIT custody in connection with a bribery scandal that has brought the anti-graft institution under a cloud.The prosecution had submitted before judge G V Bopaiah that it was necessary for the SIT to keep Ashwin Rao in custody for at least 14 days, to arrive at the truth.The image of Lokayukta institution had taken a beating due to the bribery scandal and it was necessary for SIT to obtain Ashwin’s custody to arrive at the truth and erase the disrepute brought to the anti-graft agency, prosecution said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the other hand, the defence counsel pleaded that his client should not be remanded because there is no documentary evidence to prove his guilt, except telling the other accused to do “the needful.” It was also submitted that the very nature of Rao’s arrest raised a serious question because SIT officials were at his Hyderabad residence two and half hours earlier to the filing of the FIR.Rao was arrested in Hyderabad yesterday in connection with the alleged extortion racket, which has led to calls for resignation of the Lokayukta who has, however, been insisting he would quit only if wrongdoing by his son was proved.The Lokayukta’s son was arrested based on an FIR filed against him by an executive engineer that he was asked to pay Rs 1 crore to avoid a raid.

Karnataka Lokayukta: How the crusading organisation got caught in a vortex of graft

By Arvind S Kamal

Bangalore: Once considered as a model to the rest of the country, Karnataka’s premier anti-corruption institution, which exposed the biggest ever iron ore mining scam (Rs 16,000 crore) in the history of the country leading to the axing of a chief minister (BS Yeddyurappa) and his ministerial colleagues, is today despised by one an all. It is not so because the Lokayukta is not as effective as before, but because today the ombudsman organization itself has become the epicenter of corruption with Lokayukta justice Y Bhaskar Rao’s son Ashwin, who is now in police custody, emerging as the prime accused!

Karnataka Lokayukta Bhaskar Rao. IBNLiveKarnataka Lokayukta Bhaskar Rao. IBNLive

Karnataka Lokayukta Bhaskar Rao. IBNLive

Ashwin was nabbed in the distant city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra today after evading the law. He has been named as the accused No 1 in the FIR filed in connection with a well-oiled extortion racket run in the office of the Lokayukta. Ashwin tried every legal remedy available to him, but he drew blank before agreeing to surrender. But justice Rao, instead of resigning from the post to restore the honor and dignity of the Lokayukta, is waiting for his son to emerge clean!

SR Hiremath, the Founder of Samaja Parivarthane Samudaya, which played an instrumental role in exposing the mining scam, terms the situation as the “most shameful” in the history of the Lokayukta. “If the Lokayukta has even a bit of shame, he should resign from the post immediately. He should not continue to remain in office while the SIT (Special Investigation Team) has detained his son. The pride and honor of the institution is at stake,” has been Hiremath’s campaign speech.

No one could sum up the situation better than Hiremath, who has selflessly exposed various corrupt politicians of Karnataka. When the news about the extortion racket broke out two months ago, it exploded on Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s face. Interestingly, the Congress government did not take the issue seriously because its own interests were at stake.

According to the FIR, Ashwin, in association with Lokayukta PRO Syed Riyaz, and a few journalists and RTI activists, targeted corrupt government officials on the verge of retirement. Then, they would place extortion calls right from the Lokayukta’s office – that is if the corrupt officials refused to pay up the money demanded, they would face raids by the Lokayukta officials. Now, all the six accused, including Riyaz, are in the custody of the police. It is said that the accused collected more than Rs 200 crore through the racket. Wasn’t justice Rao aware of any of this? If he wasn’t aware of it, why isn’t he making it clear to the SIT? Is he waiting for the SIT to summon him? He knows that the SIT cannot summon him as long as he is in the chair of the Lokayukta.

The genesis of the racket is interesting and what followed was shocking. When one of the officials targeted by the racketeers dared to bring the matter to the notice of an honest IPS officer posted in the Lokayukta office, it opened a can of worms. Even after the IPS officer submitted a report on the racket to the Lokayukta, Justice Rao did not act quickly. After waiting for 20 days and realizing that the image of the Lokayukta had taken a severe dent, Upa Lokayukta justice Subhash B Adi directed the IPS officer to conduct a free and fair probe. However, shockingly, when justice Adi was on an official tour of Karnataka, Justice Rao issued an overriding order and handed over the case to the Bengaluru Central Crime Branch (CCB) for detailed probe despite being aware of the fact that the CCB had no jurisdiction over the Lokayukta.

To make the matters worse, the CCB refused to take over the case and justice Rao requested the government to constitute a SIT. In the meantime, justice Adi directed the IPS officer to reopen the case to be once again shut by justice Rao. The developments in the Lokayukta office in the last 30 days show that it is no less than any political party. There is a section of the political establishment, which alleges that Ashwin could not have operated the racket without the blessings of his father.

The post of the Lokayukta is held in such high esteem that when justice Shivaraj Patil was the ombudsman, he quit the post after he was accused of possessing a residential plot in Bengaluru in violation of government rules. But now, justice Rao’s son has been detained for questioning for his alleged role in the extortion racket. But for justice Rao, that is no sufficient reason to step down from the post.

The Congress government’s move also gives rise to plenty of speculations, as it is no mood to hand over the case to the CBI. There are few interesting twists and turns to the plot. Days before the racket came to the fore, the Lokayukta hurriedly filed FIR against former chief ministers HD Kumaraswamy and BS Yeddyurappa in separate land de-notification cases. When the racket became public, it quietly closed a few cases against Siddaramaiah. Though it is wrong to draw any links between these decisions and the racket, the Opposition parties did question these developments.

The situation is tight for the Lokayukta and its officials, who are allegedly part of the racket. The BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular) are vociferously demanding the resignation of Justice Rao. The Karnataka government is not invoking any sections of the law to unseat the Lokayukta. In the meantime, the raids and actions against corrupt officials have become nil, indicating that more drama is set to unfold.

After 13 years, Godhra carnage accused held in Madhya Pradesh

Hussain Suleman Mohan (35) was arrested by LCB from Jhabua on Wednesday based on a specific tip-off, Police Inspector of Godhra LCB D J Chavda said.

An accused in the 2002 Sabarmati Express train burning incident has been arrested from Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh by the Godhra Local Crime Branch (LCB).Hussain Suleman Mohan (35) was arrested by LCB from Jhabua on Wednesday based on a specific tip-off, Police Inspector of Godhra LCB D J Chavda said. “Suleman has been on the run after the 2002 Godhra train burning incident. Recently, we learnt that he is hiding in Jhabua, where he has settled and become an auto driver. We nabbed him yesterday and handed him over to the Special Investigating Team (SIT) here today,” Chavda said on Thursday. This is the second wanted accused of train carnage case who has been nabbed by the Godhra LCB within a week.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On July 16, the LCB had nabbed Kadir Abdul Gani from Godhra town and handed him over to SIT, he said. Fifty-nine persons had lost their lives when the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was torched at Godhra Railway Station on February 27, 2002. The incident had triggered large scale riots in the state in which around 1,000 people, mostly of minority community, were killed.In February 2011, a special court had convicted 31 persons for the train burning incident. Out of the 31, eleven were awarded death penalty, while 20 were given life term.

Delhi: Police set up SIT as accused Ravinder Kumar ‘admits’ to rape, murder of 30 children

New Delhi: In revelations that have shocked even the police, serial killer Ravinder Kumar has admitted to raping and murdering more than 30 children in and around Delhi, an officer said on Tuesday. Delhi Police has formed a special team to investigate the horrific case.

In a confession that has left Deputy Commissioner of Police Vikramjit Singh “deeply shaken”, Kumar confessed to snuffing out the lives of the children — all under 14 years — in and around Delhi since 2008.  “I am deeply shaken from inside,” Singh told IANS. “I cannot express in words what I am going through.”

Representational image. Image courtesy- AFPRepresentational image. Image courtesy- AFP

Representational image. Image courtesy- AFP

Singh said that on Monday, Kumar — who hails from Kasganj in Uttar Pradesh but lives in Delhi — was taken to Narela, Bawana and Alipur, the places in outer Delhi identified by him during interrogation. “This helped us to establish the fact (about the number raped and killed),” the officer said.

“I am myself monitoring the case. The investigations till now suggest that the toll might reach 40,” he added.

Delhi Police later said they had set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the case to look for more evidence of the horrific crime in the neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The SIT, along with local police, would investigate cases of missing children in the two states which border Delhi. Until now, police had thought the number of Kumar’s victims would be around 15.

Police have mounted a massive operation to know if the cases of missing children filed in the past five years in Vijay Nagar, Bawana, Narela, Alipur, Begumpur, Kanjhawala, Samaypur Badli and other areas are related to this case, Singh said.

The 24-year-old Kumar — who apparently shows no guilt feeling — began his crime spree sometime in 2008. He would lure children with candies and kill them if they resisted. Worse, he would have sex with their dead bodies, said Singh.

Kumar on Tuesday admitted to having committed his first crime when he was barely 17 years old. A labourer’s girl child from a Delhi Metro construction site here was his first victim. He took her to an isolated spot, had sex with her and then dumped the body after killing her. Police, however, could not find a record of the crime as it was not reported.

Getting scot free after the first crime emboldened Kumar, he told police. In 2009, Kumar kidnapped a labourer’s son from Vijay Vihar, sodomised and strangled him. This time a case was registered against him but he managed to evade law due to lack of witnesses and other evidence.

Kumar claimed that he had killed 11 of his victims after they resisted his attempts to sexually assault them or threatened to expose him. Revealing his modus operandi, Kumar told police that he usually committed the crimes in the afternoon or in the early hours.

Singh told IANS: “He would go around colonies looking for children playing outside their house or near toilets and lure them with money and sweets. If they refused, he would simply gag and pick them up. In exceptional cases, if the victim agreed not to reveal the matter to anyone, Kumar would let him or her go.”

According to police, Kumar also admitted to having committed two crimes in Kanjhawala and Mundka in outer Delhi in 2011. He even targeted two 14-year-olds known to a relative while visiting his aunt during a marriage ceremony in Aligarh in 2012. However, they were let off after they promised to keep quite about the incident. Kumar accepted that he committed two crimes in Noida in 2013 when he was a cleaner with the contractor of a transport company.

Last year, Kumar was arrested for assaulting a boy in Begumpur in south Delhi. He abducted the boy near his house and fled after slitting his throat. He assumed the boy was dead. But the victim survived as police found him bleeding in a septic tank of an under-construction building. Kumar got bail then in that case — because at that time police did not know about the enormity of his saga.

He was again arrested on July 16 for raping and murdering a six-year-old girl in Begumpur. The girl had gone missing on July 14. The interrogation that followed this arrest exposed Kumar’s shocking crime saga.

IANS

Delhi Police likely to form SIT to probe charges against ‘serial rapist’

Delhi Police is likely to form an SIT to investigate the charges against the 24-year-old “serial rapist”, who has allegedly confessed to have raped and murdered 30 minor girls in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

AFP photo
Delhi Police is likely to form an SIT to investigate the charges against the 24-year-old “serial rapist”, who has allegedly confessed to have raped and murdered 30 minor girls in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.Ravinder, who was arrested last week, has so far admitted his involvement in 32 cases of rape and murder of minor girls in Delhi and neighbouring states of UP and Haryana, a senior police officer said.The investigators said that he was being taken to places in Delhi and other states where he allegedly committed the heinous crimes since 2009.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 24-year-old accused, a native of Badaun in UP, was arrested by police last week, in connection with rape and murder of a 6-year-old girl in Begumpur area in Outer Delhi.During investigation, a police officer said, Ravinder confessed to have committed ghastly crimes of rape and murder of minor girls, raising the number of his victims from earlier 15 to 32 now.Delhi Police is mulling over a proposal to form an SIT to investigate and bring out the truth related to the accused, a senior police officer of Delhi Police headquarters said. He was taken in police custody which will end on July 23, the officer said, adding that in view of his long list of victims we will ask the court to give us more time to interrogate him.Joint Commissioner of North Range Sanjay Singh said investigations into the case are going on in full swing with Delhi Police officials trying to trace his victims.Also read: Man, who confessed to the rape and murder of more than 30 minors, baffles Delhi Police

Vyapam scam: Supreme Court allows SIT to file charge sheets

The bench allowed it and fixed the matter for further hearing on July 24.

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed SIT and Special Task Force of Madhya Police to file charge sheets in Vyapam scam cases till the matters are transferred to CBI.A three-judge bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices Arun Kumar Mishra and Amitava Roy fixed July 24 for further hearing of the application of CBI that the probe agencies of the state police be allowed submit be charge sheets in the scam cases. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Congress leader Digvijay Singh, sought time to file reply to the plea of CBI.The bench allowed it and fixed the matter for further hearing on July 24. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CBI had on July 16 approached the apex court with the plea, saying that transfer of more than 185 Vyapam scam cases from SIT to CBI will take time and the state investigating agencies be allowed to file charge sheets in the cases in which the probe is complete. “Otherwise, the accused will get statutory bail on account of default of non-filing of charge sheets within stipulated time period,” the probe agency had said.On July 9, the Supreme Court had ordered transfer of the probe into all Vyapam scam cases and the deaths allegedly linked to it to CBI. The apex court had passed the order while hearing a batch of petitions, including the one filed by Digvijay Singh seeking apex court-monitored CBI probe into all cases arising out of the scam.Congress has alleged that around 49 persons linked to the scam have died under mysterious circumstances, a charge refuted by the state government. The official figure is around 25 which the state government says includes suicides, accidents and some other unnatural deaths. The multi-crore rupee professional examination scam involves several high-profile professionals, politicians and bureaucrats as accused.The alleged scam involves MPPEB, which holds examinations for various posts such as that of teachers, medical officers, constables and forest guards.

Vyapam scam probe better under CBI: Many accused were let off the hook as STF overlooked irregularities

The CBI has got off to a brisk start in the Vyapam probe and the difference in investigation between the state police’s Special Task Force and that of the central agency is visible already.

On Thursday the BJP was forced to suspend Gulab Singh Kirar — a clansman and close confidant of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan — who has been absconding for a year. Kirar, whom the Special Task Force (STF) could not locate even while he shared the dais with Chouhan, enjoyed the status of a minister of state as member of the state Backward Classes and Minorities Commission. He continued to hold the post till Thursday night even as an absconder.

The CBI had on Wednesday registered FIRs in two cases related to rigging of examinations, naming among others Kirar and his son Shakti Pratap Singh. Kirar senior has been charged with getting his son admitted to post-graduation course in medicine by paying Rs 30 lakh while Kirar junior allegedly used fraudulent means to get admitted in the PG course. Kirar had even appeared before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) monitoring the STF investigations on the directives of the state High Court but escaped the STF’s eyes.

Representative image. Courtesy: News18Representative image. Courtesy: News18

Representative image. Courtesy: News18

The CBI was off to a brisk start since taking charge of the investigations from the state police (STF) early this week. Investigations suddenly came of age as the central agency filed five FIRs against 160 persons fast tracking the proceedings. The CBI has also asked for the documents related to the deaths related to the scam. Superintendents of Police in Ujjain, Gwalior, Indore and Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh and Kanker in Chhattisgarh have been asked to provide records relating to the deaths of Namrata Damore, Vijay Patel, Rajendra Arya, Akshay Singh and Deepak Verma. Damore was allegedly gagged to death but her death was passed off as suicide and journalist Askhay Singh who had come to investigate Damore’s death died mysteriously while sipping tea.

Besides the Kirar duo other key accused named in the five FIRs are: Sudhir Bhadauria, the former controller of examination and a close associate of key accused and financier of the Sangh Parivar, Sudhir Sharma; Pankaj Trivedi, Bhadauria’s successor as controller of examinations who allegedly manipulated the OMR sheets to help many candidates pass the examinations fraudulently; Rashmi Parihar, accused of passing pre-PG examinations through fraudulent means; Vir Bahadur Bhadauria who was part of the racket behind the examination fraud that operated in collusion with Sudhir Bhadauria; and BR Shrivastav, son-in-law of the former health minister Sheetla Sahay who got his daughter admitted fraudulently.

Joint Director RP Agrawal, who is leading the 40-member crack team, has promised transparency in investigations saying the agency will share the details with the media and won’t let the country down. The FIRs have been registered in connection with the Pre-Medical Test of 2010 and the pre-PG Examination 2011.

However odious they might seem, comparisons are bound to be there between the probes conducted by the CBI and STF. Though it was monitored by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Madhya Pradesh High Court the STF had its say in vital cases. While the SIT wanted STF to file FIRs against Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharati and former chairperson of Vyapam Ranjana Chaudhary, the latter refused quoting lack of evidence.

During interrogations of agents, Sudhir Bhadauria’s name had also emerged. SIT registered an FIR against Bhadoria but he was neither arrested nor questioned. On the contrary he went on to be the director of a prominent government institute of technology.

Bharti’s name appeared in the Excel Sheet extracted from the hard disk of accused chief systems analyst Nitin Mohindra. Former Controller Vyapam examinations Pankaj Trivedi had also mentioned her name in his recorded statements. Mahindra in his statements to STF had also corroborated that Trivedi had provided the list of candidates recommended by Bharati. However, STF did not question Bharti for two years. Former Director General of Police Nandan Dubey had visited Uma’s place to give her a clean chit setting off doubts about the independence of STF and credibility of its probe.

CBI’s stand on Chaudhary is being keenly watched as Pankaj Trivedi had claimed having given Rs 42 lakh to Chaudhary. STF, when pressurised by SIT over Trivedi’s statement, interrogated her but made her a prosecution witness.

The CBI registered its initial cases focussing on examinations held between 2009 and 2011 which the STF had not investigated. These examinations saw massive rigging. The STF chose to overlook irregularities in these examinations confining its probe to the PMTs in 2012 and 2013, the pre-PG (medical) examination in 2012 as well as other recruitment examinations in 2012 and 2013. This would let many key accused off the hook.

Supreme Court to hear CBI plea in Vyapam case on 20 July

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear on Monday the plea of CBI that Special Investigation Team (SIT) be allowed to file chargesheets in the Vyapam scam cases in which the investigation is over. A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, fixed the plea of the probe agency for hearing on July 20 and asked CBI to serve the copy of the application to the parties concerned.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, appearing for CBI, said that the transfer of more than 185 Vyapam scam cases from SIT to CBI will take time and the state investigating agency be allowed to file charge sheets in the cases in which the probe is complete.

Image courtesy: News18Image courtesy: News18

Image courtesy: News18

“Otherwise, the accused will get statutory bail on account of default of non-filing of charge sheets within stipulated time period,” the ASG said. On July 9, the Supreme Court had ordered transfer of the probe into all Vyapam scam cases and the deaths allegedly linked to it to CBI.

The apex court had passed the order while hearing a batch of petitions, including the one filed by senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh seeking apex court-monitored CBI probe into all cases arising out of the Vyapam scam.

While passing the order, the apex court had also taken on record the submission of the Madhya Pradesh government that it had no objection on transferring the investigation of cases relating to Vyapam scam to CBI.

Congress has alleged that around 49 persons linked to the Vyapam scam have died under mysterious circumstances, a charge refuted by the state government. The official figure is around 25 which the state government says includes suicides, accidents and some other unnatural deaths.

The multi-crore rupee professional examination scam involves several high-profile professionals, politicians and bureaucrats as accused. The alleged scam involves MPPEB, which holds examinations for various posts such as that of teachers, medical officers, constables and forest guards.

PTI

Vyapam scam: SC to hear CBI plea on July 20

The apex court had passed the order while hearing a batch of petitions, including the one filed by senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh seeking apex court-monitored CBI probe into all cases arising out of the Vyapam scam.

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear on Monday the plea of CBI that Special Investigation Team (SIT) be allowed to file charge sheets in the Vyapam scam cases in which the investigation is over. A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, fixed the plea of the probe agency for hearing on July 20 and asked CBI to serve the copy of the application to the parties concerned. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, appearing for CBI, said that the transfer of more than 185 Vyapam scam cases from SIT to CBI will take time and the state investigating agency be allowed to file charge sheets in the cases in which the probe is complete. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Otherwise, the accused will get statutory bail on account of default of non-filing of charge sheets within stipulated time period,” the ASG said. On July 9, the Supreme Court had ordered transfer of the probe into all Vyapam scam cases and the deaths allegedly linked to it to CBI. The apex court had passed the order while hearing a batch of petitions, including the one filed by senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh seeking apex court-monitored CBI probe into all cases arising out of the Vyapam scam. While passing the order, the apex court had also taken on record the submission of the Madhya Pradesh government that it had no objection on transferring the investigation of cases relating to Vyapam scam to CBI. Congress has alleged that around 49 persons linked to the Vyapam scam have died under mysterious circumstances, a charge refuted by the state government. The official figure is around 25 which the state government says includes suicides, accidents and some other unnatural deaths.The multi-crore rupee professional examination scam involves several high-profile professionals, politicians and bureaucrats as accused. The alleged scam involves MPPEB, which holds examinations for various posts such as that of teachers, medical officers, constables and forest guards.

SIT monitoring Vyapam probe says investigators were doing good job

Even though the MP government faced a massive outrage over the increasing number of deaths of people related to the Vyapam scam, the SIT on Thursday maintained their stand that none of the deaths was connected to Vyapam. The comment by the SIT chairperson in support of STF has already set the tone for the CBI which will expect the local police to share its findings.

Activists of the All India Students Association shout slogans against MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan during a protest against Vyapam scam in New Delhi on Thursday

PTI
The three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT), supervising the probe led by the Madhya government-appointed Special Task Force (STF), on Thursday said that the investigations into the Vyapam scam were about to conclude. The SIT reiterated that the investigations till now had been ‘spotless’.Even though the MP government faced a massive outrage over the increasing number of deaths of people related to the Vyapam scam, the SIT on Thursday maintained their stand that none of the deaths was connected to Vyapam. The comment by the SIT chairperson in support of STF has already set the tone for the CBI which will expect the local police to share its findings.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The statement came moments after the Supreme Court transferred all cases related to Vyapam scam to the Central Bureau of Investigation. “There are 125 FIRs registered in the Vyapam scam and charge- sheets have been filed in 28 of the 55 cases currently being investigated by the STF. The investigations in 15-20 cases which had not been charge-sheeted had almost concluded. The rest of the cases were also being probed effectively,” said Justice Chandra Bhushan, the chairperson of the SIT.Justice Bhushan added that the “SIT had no complaints about the way STF had carried out the investigation”.A day after the STF informed a special court that one of the key witnesses in a Vyapam case, Sanjay Kumar Yadav, supposed to be produced in front of the bench, had died due to an illness in a Bhopal hospital five months ago, the SIT managed to avert getting embroiled into another political controversy by saying “the job of SIT as well as the STF has officially concluded with the matter being officially transferred to CBI “. The response came from Justice Bhushan when asked whether local police had informed the STF about the death of the constable earlier.According to director general of Special Armed Force (SAF) RL Prajapati, Constable Yadav (37) was deputed with 25th battalion of SAF in Bhopal and was posted at the Bhopal headquarters of the STF since October 2014 till January 16, 2015, the date when he took ill due to Hepatitis. Yadav was admitted to Katju hospital on Jan 16 this year and later shifted to Hajela hospital when his condition deteriorated. he was then transferred to Bansal hospital where he breathed his last. Police said that autopsy of the deceased had revealed that he had died due to ‘alcoholic hepatitis’, making him the fourth person to have died due to heaving drinking.Yadav was a witness in the constable recruitment scam in which three accused, identified as Azharuddin, Naeem and Kaseem, all residents Uttar Pradesh, were arrested. The arrests were made in Bhopal with Yadav as a witness, officials told dna. It remains to be seen whether Yadav’s death will also be probed by the CBI. More importantly, with Supreme Court directing the probe agency to investigate the deaths, which the government maintains is numbered at 31, there are speculations that investigation will potentially open a can of worms.An opposition leader, requesting anonymity, said that even though roping in of CBI is a positive development, ramifications of the same if not checked can be dangerous. “Nearly 50 people have died mysterious during these years of investigation, road accidents, suicide and so on. I have reasons to believe that if the crack down by CBI is not strong enough, situation in MP will turn from bad to worse.

Two more die in Vyapam Scam: Is it coincidence or a plot to wipe out witnesses?

There is something really sinister and rotten in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Nearly 50 persons connected to an ongoing probe into a mammoth scam have died, half of them under suspicious circumstances.

People with no history of illness are suddenly collapsing and dying; road accidents and suicides have turned major killers of young men and women connected to the scam. Everyday there is a new death, giving rise to suspicions of a macabre conspiracy.

Namrata Damor, a student accused of benefitting from the Vyapam scam, leaves her home in 2012. A few days later, her body is found hundreds of miles away on railway tracks in Ujjain. Three years later, TV journalist Akshay Singh, who is probing her death, dies within seconds of interviewing her parents.

A day later (5 July, 2015), Arun Sharma, the 64-year-old dean of a medical college in Jabalpur, is found dead in a Delhi hotel, while on his way to Agartala from Delhi as part of an inspection team of Medical Council of India. Just a year ago, his predecessor DK Sakalle, who was heading the probe into fraudulent admissions in the Jabalpur College, had died of burn injuries.

In addition, 12 persons have died suddenly of unexplained illness/cause; ten others have succumbed to accidents. Naturally, there is palpable fear among families of many other persons linked to the scam.

Journal;ist Akshay Singh and dean Arun Sharma are the two latest victims in the Vyapam scam deaths. IBNLive

Journal;ist Akshay Singh and dean Arun Sharma are the two latest victims in the Vyapam scam deaths. IBNLive

Vyapam is the Mama of all scandals

The stakes are high. A lot of reputations and careers are at stake. Vyapam is the mama of all scandals in post-Independence India. And this isn’t just because it has unfolded under the watch of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who loves to call himself the Mama (uncle) of every youngster in Madhya Pradesh.

It is enormous, unprecedented in magnitude and scale. It has touched the life of almost every MP student who passed out of school between 2008 and 2013. It has affected the fortune of almost every youngster who competed for government jobs in the state during Chouhan’s previous tenure (2008-2013), if not earlier. It would be difficult to find too many families in MP who are not victims of the scam.

What exactly is the Vyapam scam?

Till 2014, the MP government had a special body (Professional Examination Board or Vyapam) for conducting all entrance exams for professional colleges (medical, dental, engineering etc) and recruitments tests for government jobs (teachers, sub-inspectors, transport officers, forest staff etc) in the state. According to a ballpark figure nearly 39 lakh students and job aspirants appeared for exams conducted by Vyapam between 2008 and 2013.
Most of these exams were rigged and the aspirants cheated. A network of middlemen, Vyapam staff and politicians manipulated the results to give admissions and jobs to those who either paid for them or came with recommendations from influential people.

People at every level were part of the chain. Recommendations came from every possible source, including ministers, MLAs, BJP leaders, Sangh Parivar and even the Raj Bhawan staff. The opposition Congress has alleged that several people close to Chouhan, including his wife Sadhna Singh, made recommendations for admissions and recruitments. Chouhan has denied the allegations and filed defamation suits against Congress leaders.

The Chouhan government tried several other tricks to silence critics while the scam fire was raging. In one egregious incident, it almost blacklisted an English daily for running an acerbic profile of his wife and issued eviction notice to the author for vacating the government accommodation allotted to him. (In MP, incidentally, journalists live in houses rented to them at throwaway prices in posh localities. The practice has been prevalent for decades but nobody has pointed at the conflict of interest or the government’s efforts to favour scribes).

The scam burst into public domain when lists of beneficiaries and their patrons maintained by Sudhir Sharma became public before the 2013 Assembly elections. As a result of a special investigation team (SIT) probe that followed under the high court, hundreds of people are in jail. These include former education minister Laxmikant Sharma, his OSD and alleged middleman Sudhir Sharma, exam controller Pankaj Trivedi and Anand Mahindra, the chief systems analyst of Vyapam. Thousands of students have been thrown out of colleges and put behind bars.

In 2014, when former education minister Laxmikant was arrested by the SIT, there was jubilation in the Congress camp, its essence captured by the cryptic message passed between them: Dadhi (beard) gone, saree (a high-profile woman) is next. It was believed that the minister will sing like a canary and name several other beneficiaries of the scam. But the probe hit a dead end after the arrest of the minister and his OSD, giving rise to allegations that a massive cover-up is on to shield people at higher levels.

Could this spate of unexplained deaths just be coincidence or part of a sinister plot to wipe out witnesses and key players? Nobody knows the answer yet. But the plot of the Mama of all scams has turned really sinister.

Two more Vyapam scam deaths: Coincidence or plot to wipe out witnesses?

There is something really sinister and rotten in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Nearly 50 persons connected to an ongoing probe into a mammoth scam have died, half of them under suspicious circumstances.

People with no history of illness are suddenly collapsing and dying; road accidents and suicides have turned major killers of young men and women connected to the scam. Everyday there is a new death, giving rise to suspicions of a macabre conspiracy.

Namrata Damor, a student accused of benefitting from the Vyapam scam, leaves her home in 2012. A few days later, her body is found hundreds of miles away on railway tracks in Ujjain. Three years later, TV journalist Akshay Singh, who is probing her death, dies within seconds of interviewing her parents.

A day later (July 5, 2015), Arun Sharma, the 64-year-old dean of a medical college in Jabalpur, is found dead in a Delhi hotel, while on his way to Agartala from Delhi as part of an inspection team of Medical Council of India. Just a year ago, his predecessor DK Sakalle, who was heading the probe into fraudulent admissions in the Jabalpur College, had died of burn injuries.

In addition, 12 persons have died suddenly of unexplained illness/cause; ten others have succumbed to accidents. Naturally, there is palpable fear among families of many other persons linked to the scam.

Representational image. Image courtesy: Vyapam websiteRepresentational image. Image courtesy: Vyapam website

Representational image. Image courtesy: Vyapam website

Vyapam is the Mama of all scandals

The stakes are high. A lot of reputations and careers are at stake. Vyapam is the Mama of all scandals in post-Independence India. And this isn’t just because it has unfolded under the watch of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who loves to call himself the Mama (uncle) of every youngster in Madhya Pradesh.

It is enormous, unprecedented in magnitude and scale. It has touched the life of almost every MP student who passed out of school between 2008 and 2013. It has affected the fortune of almost every youngster who competed for government jobs in the state during Chouhan’s previous tenure (2008-2013), if not earlier. It would be difficult to find too many families in MP who are not victims of the scam.

What exactly is the Vyapam scam?

Till 2014, the MP government had a special body (Professional Examination Board or Vyapam) for conducting all entrance exams for professional colleges (medical, dental, engineering etc) and recruitments tests for government jobs (teachers, sub-inspectors, transport officers, forest staff etc) in the state. According to a ballpark figure nearly 39 lakh students and job aspirants appeared for exams conducted by Vyapam between 2008 and 2013.
Most of these exams were rigged and the aspirants cheated. A network of middlemen, Vyapam staff and politicians manipulated the results to give admissions and jobs to those who either paid for them or came with recommendations from influential people.

People at every level were part of the chain. Recommendations came from every possible source, including ministers, MLAs, BJP leaders, Sangh Parivar and even the Raj Bhawan staff. The opposition Congress has alleged that several people close to Chouhan, including his wife Sadhna Singh, made recommendations for admissions and recruitments. Chouhan has denied the allegations and filed defamation suits against Congress leaders.

The Chouhan government tried several other tricks to silence critics while the scam fire was raging. In one egregious incident, it almost blacklisted an English daily for running an acerbic profile of his wife and issued eviction notice to the author for vacating the government accommodation allotted to him. (In MP, incidentally, journalists live in houses rented to them at throwaway prices in posh localities. The practice has been prevalent for decades but nobody has pointed at the conflict of interest or the government’s efforts to favour scribes).

The scam burst into public domain when lists of beneficiaries and their patrons maintained by Sudhir Sharma became public before the 2013 Assembly elections. As a result of a special investigation team (SIT) probe that followed under the high court, hundreds of people are in jail. These include former education minister Laxmikant Sharma, his OSD and alleged middleman Sudhir Sharma, exam controller Pankaj Trivedi and Anand Mahindra, the chief systems analyst of Vyapam. Thousands of students have been thrown out of colleges and put behind bars.

In 2014, when former education minister Laxmikant was arrested by the SIT, there was jubilation in the Congress camp, its essence captured by the cryptic message passed between them: Dadhi (beard) gone, saree (a high-profile woman) is next. It was believed that the minister will sing like a canary and name several other beneficiaries of the scam. But the probe hit a dead end after the arrest of the minister and his OSD, giving rise to allegations that a massive cover-up is on to shield people at higher levels.

Could this spate of unexplained deaths just be coincidence or part of a sinister plot to wipe out witnesses and key players? Nobody knows the answer yet. But the plot of the Mama of all scams has turned really sinister.

FIR filed against Karnataka Lokayukta’s son in connection with alleged bribery scandal

Bengaluru: An FIR was on Wednesday filed against Karnataka Lokayukta Bhaskar Rao’s son in connection with an alleged bribery scandal, as the issue rocked the assembly and pressure mounted for the exit of the anti-graft ombudsman.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The FIR was filed on the basis of a complaint that an executive engineer was asked to pay Rs 1 crore bribe to avoid a raid, Upa Lokayukta Subash Adi told PTI.

Asked if Lokayukta’s son would be arrested, he said it was left to the institution’s Superintendent of Police Sonia Narang, who blew the lid off the alleged scandal.

The alleged scam came to light after Narang wrote a letter to Lokayukta Registrar about the complaint she received from the Executive Engineer, who alleged that someone from the Lokayukta office demanded Rs 1 crore in bribe to avoid a raid.

As the Opposition and various organisations stepped up pressure for a CBI probe, the government said it could not hand over the case to the central agency unless the Lokayukta itself asks for it.

“This (Lokayukta) Act was made in 1985;… we cannot give it to CBI under Section 15 sub clause 3 of Lokayukta act…,” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said in the Assembly which is holding its monsoon session in Belgavi.

He said as per the recommendation made by Lokayukta under the provisions of the Act, a Special Investigation Team headed by ADGP rank officer Kamal Panth who had earlier worked for CBI, had been formed.

Siddaramaiah said “… We can wait till the SIT report comes,” and added that, meanwhile, the government will look at strengthening the Lokayukta Act after taking advice from legal experts and others required.

BJP staged a walkout as the government did not agree to hand over the case to CBI, a demand echoed by JD(S) also.

Rao, a former High Court Chief Justice, has rejected allegations that his son was involved in the scandal and said he would resign if the charge was proved correct.

Pressure for Rao’s resignation mounted as several organisations, including advocates, Kannada outfits and other bodies held protests insisting that his continuance was affecting the credibility of the institution itself.

“We don’t have any powers to initiate investigation on Lokayukta on our own. Lokayukta has sent a request to form an SIT. On the basis of that request Chief Minister has constituted an SIT under an ADGP,” Home Minister KJ George told reporters in Belagavi.

“We cannot do it (CBI probe) by ourselves as it (Lokayukta) is a statutory body. We have gone by the request (of Lokayukta on SIT),” he added.

Sticking to his guns, Rao has said he would not resign but would quit “…100 percent…150 percent” if any of his family members was found guilty after the probe by SIT.

In the Assembly, Opposition BJP leader Jagadish Shettar said a CBI inquiry should be held “to maintain transparency” and added, “CBI inquiry can do justice.”

Demanding that the guilty should be punished so that public trust on the Lokayukta institution is maintained, he said, “The Act should be amended by giving the authority to the House on whose act the Lokayukta institution was created, to order for inquiry against it.”

Shettar also put pressure on the government for an FIR to be filed against Rao’s son and others involved immediately as they are not part Lokayukta organisation.

JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy also demanded a CBI probe and said that government cannot run away from the responsibility holding that it has no authority according to the Act.

He also quoted media reports that some senior IAS officials had allegedly given money to avoid raid, to which Congress members asked him to name them.

Intervening, Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa asked Kumaraswamy to hand over the list of such IAS officers to the government so as to conduct inquiry.

PTI

Karnataka Lokayukta row: Govt says cannot give probe to CBI, appoints SIT

Lokayukta was rocked by the alleged scandal recently after its Superintendent of Police Sonia Narang blew the lid off with a letter to its Registrar, about the complaint she received from a person, who alleged that someone from the Lokayukta office demanded Rs 1 crore in bribe to avoid a raid.

Investigation into charges of corruption in the Lokayukta office cannnot be handed over to CBI unless the anti-graft body itself makes a request for it, Home Minister KJ George said today. The probe has now been handed over to a Special Investigation team on the request of Lokayukta, George told reporters here.Lokayukta Bhaskar Rao is in the eye of a storm over charges of corruption in his office with his son’s name also dragged into it. Facing the heat, Rao has ruled out his resignation.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We don’t have any powers to initiate investigation on Lokayukta on our own. Lokayukta has sent a request to form an SIT and inquire about it. On the basis of that request, Chief Minister has constituted an SIT under an ADGP,” he said.”Government can assist Lokayukta when required under the Lokayukta Act,” he added.When questioned about the Lokayukta’s request to conduct investigation by an independent agency, George said, “They have asked us to conduct an inquiry by an official above the rank of ADGP, according to that we have appointed ADGP.” On the demand for a CBI probe into the issue, George said “We don’t have that power; we will have to go by Lokayukta’s request; if they ask for a CBI probe we will give it.” “We cannot do it by ourself as it (Lokayukta) is a statutory body. We have gone by the request,” he added.Lokayukta was rocked by the alleged scandal recently after its Superintendent of Police Sonia Narang blew the lid off with a letter to its Registrar, about the complaint she received from a person, who alleged that someone from the Lokayukta office demanded Rs 1 crore in bribe to avoid a raid.Rao, a former High Court Chief Justice, has rejected allegations that his son was involved in the scandal and said he would resign if the charge was proved correct.

Black money SIT probes cases of Lalit Modi, BCCI officials involved in IPL

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money today sought update from multiple probe agencies on the role of Lalit Modi in alleged financial irregularities in the IPL cricket tournament.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money today sought update from multiple probe agencies on the role of Lalit Modi in alleged financial irregularities in the IPL cricket tournament.Besides Modi, former IPL Chairman, the SIT also reviewed cases of BCCI officials and other individuals involved in the operation of the various editions of the IPL.Sources said the two-hour long meeting was chaired by SIT Vice Chairman Justice (retd) Arijit Pasayat and it is understood that directions have been issued to agencies like the Income Tax department, Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to update it with more information and status on each of the cases being handled by these probe bodies.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The SIT has a wide mandate and hence as part of its overall review of black money cases and those related to illegal assets held abroad, the panel also reviewed cases related to the IPL and people involved in it,” the sources said.Tuesday’s meeting was attended by officials of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), ED, FIU, Department of Revenue under the Finance Ministry and the CBI.Sources indicated that while the ED informed the SIT about the status of its 16 Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) cases and a money laundering FIR against the Indian Premier League (IPL)-BCCI, their officials and Modi, the I-T department is understood to have shared some snoop data on the transactions and tax history of the former cricket czar.”Some more details in these cases have been sought after which a future course of action will be charted vis-a-vis taking forward the IPL related cases,” they said.

Sunanda Pushkar death probe: SIT carries out polygraph test on 3 key witnesses

Last month, the three witnesses–Shashi Tharoor’s domestic help Narain Singh, driver Bajrangi and friend Sanjay Dewan — had agreed to undergo the lie-detector tests.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) carries out polygraph test on 3 key witnesses–Sanjay Dewan, Narain Singh and Bajrangi– in Sunanda Pushkar death probe.Last month, the three witnesses had agreed to undergo the lie-detector tests.A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Delhi Police had earlier said that Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s domestic help Narain Singh, driver Bajrangi and family friend Sanjay Dewan might be “hiding something” including “material facts” and asked a Delhi court for permission to subject them to a polygraph test.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The counsel appearing for the three suspects told the court that their clients have fully cooperated with the police. “The Supreme Court has said that this (polygraph test) is not a relied upon evidence but if the police wants to do this, we are giving the consent,” the counsel said. The counsel also told the magistrate that police should inform the court regarding the questions which they want to ask during the test.”My clients are ready to undergo the polygraph test because we don’t want to give the impression that we are running away from the probe,” the counsel said. The police had said in the plea that on January 17, 2014 Tharoor’s close friend Sanjay Dewan came to the hotel at 5 pm and remained there till the discovery of Pushkar’s death. He could not give plausible reason for cancelling his trip to Mumbai and his coming to the hotel in Delhi, it had said.”He remained silent about the power cut on January 17, 2014 at about 7 pm in room no. 345 at Leela Hotel just before the discovery of the death of Sunanda Pushkar, while he was very much present in the room along with Shashi Tharoor,” the application had said, adding that he did not properly reply to questions regarding the injuries on Pushkar’s body.The police had claimed he did not wake up Pushkar for two and a half hours and also not explained why he preferred Dr Rajan Mohan, who came all the way from Patel Nagar in West Delhi, over the hotel doctor who could come immediately.It had alleged that Dewan did not give proper explanation for sending driver Bajrangi to bring Dr Mohan even without meeting Pushkar in her room. Police had said that Dewan did not produce his cell phone which was required to retrieve the text messages exchanged between him and Tharoor as per the call details. “It shows that he is hiding the material facts related to this case,” it had said.Regarding suspect Narain, police ahd claimed it was found that he had accompanied the Tharoor couple from KIMS Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, and remained with Pushkar in the hotel from January 15-17, 2014 till her death and that he was very well-acquainted with the facts relating to her death.”But he did not disclose how the injury marks had taken place on her body and relations between Tharoor and Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar which was a bone of discord between the couple”, the plea had said.It had added that Narain cited the reason for Pushkar’s stay in the hotel to be the ongoing repair work at their residence in Lodhi Estate but it was found that the work was over before her arrival in Delhi on January 15, 2014, and alleged that he had tried to “mislead” the investigation.The police had further said that Narain remained silent on the “issue” on which Pushkar wanted to “expose” Tharoor in a press conference which was to be held on January 17, 2014. It had also said the mobile phone recovered from Narain belonged to Tharoor who could not explain the reason why he was keeping it.The police had mentioned similar reasons with regard to Bajrangi and said he was present in the hotel on January 16-17, 2014 and was acquainted with the facts of the case. “He (Bajrangi) did not disclose about the injury marks present on the body of deceased Sunanda Puskhar. He also did not disclose about relation of Shashi Tharoor with Pakistan journalist Mehr Tarar which was an apple of discord between the couple,” it had said.Tharoor has been questioned thrice in this case so far. Pushkar was found dead in the hotel suite on January 17 last year, days after a public spat on Twitter where she accused her husband of having an affair with the Pakistani journalist. In the first week of January this year, police claimed that Sunanda Pushkar (51) was poisoned, and registered a murder case against unknown persons. A Special Investigation Team (SIT), formed to probe the case, is learnt to be looking into a possible link with the multi-million dollar Indian Premier League.

Prashant Bhushan raises objections to KV Choudhry’s appointment as CVC

Bhushan has filed a PIL before the Supreme Court seeking framing of guidelines due to lack of transparency in the CVC appointment. The court during the last hearing had permitted the government to go ahead with the selection of names but asked to place before it all the records pertaining to the appointment. The matter will come up for hearing in July.

A day after the Central government cleared the name for Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), noted advocate Prashant Bhushan has raised objection to former CBDT chairperson K V Choudhry’s selection for the post of CVC.Bhushan has filed a PIL before the Supreme Court seeking framing of guidelines due to lack of transparency in the CVC appointment. The court during the last hearing had permitted the government to go ahead with the selection of names but asked to place before it all the records pertaining to the appointment. The matter will come up for hearing in July.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The lawyer said that on May 20, he had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh and finance minister Arun Jaitley not to select former Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT) chief Choudhry alleging “his name figured four times in the list of persons who visited former CBI director Ranjit Sinha at his official residence (2 Janpath in Delhi).”He referred to the apex court’s May 14 order for investigation into Sinha’s meetings with various accused persons, including meat exporter-cum-hawala dealer Moin Quershi in 2G, illegal coal block allocations and other cases.”During the tenure of Sinha as CBI chief, Choudhry’s role was investigated by the agency in’stock guru” scam. Choudhry, who was chairman and member (investigation) of income tax, was apparently investigating hawala dealer Moin Qureshi who repeatedly visited Sinha,” Bhushan said.In addition, he alleged “Choudhry was the then DGIT, Delhi when the Radia tapes were intercepted and did not take any action on evidence available with him. It was the Supreme Court which had to intervene and order the CBI to investigate.”?Bhushan further accused Choudhry of delaying the probe in the black money case.”Chudhary was also in-charge of investigating HSBC account holders for almost three years. Until Supreme Court appointed the SIT, there were almost no progress in the income tax investigation under him. At the time SIT was formed, income tax department had not filed even a single prosecution case against HSBC account holders,” Bhushan alleged.”Choudhry wrongfully reduced the undeclared wealth of M/s Flora and Fauna, a company of businessman late Ponty Chadha by over Rs 200 crore. One of the HSBC account holders so protected was Ponty Chaddha’s son-in -law Gurdeep Kochar.” the lawyer alleged.?When approached by dna for his reactions on Bhushan’s allegations, Choudhary refused to comment saying, “It is not appropriate for me to comment anything at this moment.”The Central government had on Monday finalised the names for the chiefs of Central Information Commissioner (CIC) and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and is likely to announce the same after the approval of President, who will be back in Indian later this week.Senior-most Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma is tipped to be new Chief Information Commissioner and Choudary is expected to be the new CVC.

Need serious operation to combat ‘black money cancer’: SIT

New Delhi: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money on Friday said a “serious operation” of strictly enacting and enforcing anti-tax evasion laws is the only solution for combating and winning over the “cancerous” menace of illegal funds stashed abroad and within the country.

AFPAFP

AFP

SIT Chairman Justice (retd) MB Shah, while launching a book on the subject, said a combination of “strong enactment and enforcement” of laws is the most necessary requirement if the country wants to check black money and “bring out” the offenders and various instances of black economy perpetration.

“It (combating black money) may require serious operation. Unless there is serious operation by enactment and enforcement of laws you will not be able to get black money, or to say, bring it out. Mere making a statement will not do anything. This cancerous growth is required to be controlled. Corruption at all levels is the main cause of the generation of black money,” he said.

Justice Shah exhorted that the “wrong” has to be punished as he hailed the recent anti-black money law passed by the government in Parliament.

“It is difficult to say it (the new black money law) is harsh… it’s an elaborate Act. We are happy that some suggestions (made by SIT) have been accepted by the government,” he said.

Agreeing with his senior on the high-powered panel, SIT Vice Chairman Justice (retd) Arijit Pasayat said the often mentioned question of how black money will be brought back is a “misnomer”.

“Rather, what we need to do is to tax the due, prosecute and put penalties on the said overseas black money amount and that way you will have your pound of flesh,” Pasayat said.

“The approach of policy makers and tax officials should be to legitimately get back what (tax) is due to the country. They should attach the corresponding value assets of the accused present in the country,” he added.

Pasayat said rather than looking at suspected tax havens abroad, such instances within India should be looked into.

“There are concerns how would you get back black money. I would say don’t look at Singapore or Virgin Islands…look inside India. Practically, most of it is generated here. If we act tough at this stage when it begins inside country, then we will have success,” he said.

Pasayat said tax havens should not be called by the said name as “heaven” is a place of “safety” and rather they should become “hell” for tax evaders and illegal funds operators.

He voiced Justice Shah’s concerns saying there should be a “zero tolerance” on corruption.

Justice Shah also lamented on the slow pace of filing of FIRs, investigation and court trials in black money cases.

“If the Acts are not implemented properly, their deterrent effect is lost,” the SIT Chairman said.

He underlined that over-invoicing and under-invoicing of traded goods was one of the big methods to generate tainted funds and enforcement agencies have to be very active to check this.

The book — It’s Raining Black! — launched by the two veteran judges is authored by Shailendra Kumar.

PTI

Sunanda Pushkar death: The police expect polygraph tests to open a Pandora’s Box

New Delhi: Who killed Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar?

The police do not have a categorical answer to the question even a year after the mysterious incident that took place in a five star hotel here. But they hope to make a significant breakthrough in the high-profile case following the polygraph test to be conducted on three prime witnesses – the Tharoors’ driver Bajrangi, domestic help Narain Singh and family friend Sanjay Dewan.

While seeking permission on Wednesday to subject the trio to the lie-detection test, the Special Investigation Team of the city police told a Delhi court that three suspects did not disclose “material facts” during questioning. After listening both sides, Metropolitan Magistrate Sunil Kumar Sharma asked investigators to go ahead.

The police, say the sources close to the development, expect them to open a Pandora Box. “All of them have already been questioned more than once. But there are contradictions in the statements made by Tharoor and the one by others. Narain and Bajrangi were asked to disclose how the injury marks appeared on the body, why there was power cut in the room where the body was found, why a press conference was to be held on January 17. But they were tight-lipped,” they told Firstpost.

According to the FIR filed on 1 January 2015 at Sarojni Nagar police station following a final report that declared she died of poisoning submitted to the police on 29 December 2014 by an AIIMS autopsy board comprising three doctors, there were 15 injury marks on Sunanda’s body, which were “caused by blunt force, simple in nature, none contributing to death and produced in a scuffle, except injury number 10 which was an injection mark. Injury number 12 was a teeth bite mark. The injuries number 1 to 10 was of various duration ranging from 12 hours to 4 days”.

Sunanda Pushkar. PTI/File imageSunanda Pushkar. PTI/File image

Sunanda Pushkar. PTI/File image

Sunanda (51) was found dead in room number 345 at Hotel Leela Palace at around 8:30 pm on January 17 last year, a day after her spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar on micro-blogging website Twitter over her alleged affair with Tharoor.

The sources further said Sanjay Dewan, who is consul general of the Republic of Cape Verde, had to leave for Mumbai but he cancelled the trip and came to the hotel. “Why did he do that? He did not even mention it during interrogation,” they said adding that he was the person who had called the doctor who declared Sunanda dead.

There are reports that he learnt that Sunanda was not well and therefore, he cancelled the Mumbai tour and came to the hotel to meet her.

“Dewan also did not disclose why a cardiologist (Dr Rajat Mohan) was called to the hospital, why she was not rushed to the hospital or the doctor available in the hotel was called,” the sources added.

The sources further said Tharoor’s personal assistant Rakesh Kumar had bought Alprax (an anti-anxiety drug) for Sunanda. “But he did not say anything about it in his police interrogation after the death,” they added. But he is not being subjected to lie-detection test.

Two used Alprax strips (15 tablets in each strip) were recovered from the crime scene. However, the viscera report does not mention it. Was it done to misguide the probe?

“It might be. The SIT is proving the case at various angles. There are several dots, which need to be connected to reach a logical conclusion and bring the culprits brought to book. All aspects of the case are being examined with extreme care. The picture will be clearer after the polygraph test of the three and final viscera report,” said one of them.

The viscera sample has already been sent to FBI labs in the United States in February. DCP (South) Prem Nath had gone there to deliver the sample after AIIMS doctors had concluded that Sunanda died of poisoning but did not identify which poison caused the death because, they said, Indian labs lacked facility to identify the poison.

“Once the poison is identified, the investigators would be able to find out how it reached her body,” he added.

The SIT is also probing foreign angle in the case. “Three persons stayed in the hotel for five days from 13 to 18 January last year using fake passports. As the information available with us, they were foreign nationals. Their involvement cannot be ruled out as well. It is extremely important for us to probe every possible angle so that we can reach a conclusion,” a source had earlier told Firstpost.

Notably, Sunanda too had tweeted before her death, “This is a Pakistani woman (referring to Mehr Trar) who is an ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) agent, and she is stalking my husband,” Pushkar had said before her death.

The doctors had mentioned Polonium-210, a radioactive substance – which is not so easy to be procured by a common man, as one probable toxic materials used in the murder. It strengthens the theory of involvement of well-connected people.

The investigators are also probing if the murder was carried out because of financial reasons and had anything to do with her high profile handling of IPL teams.

“We are probing if she was killed due to financial reasons, including her various properties in India and abroad. We are also trying to find out whether the murder has any link with IPL,” a member of the SIT had said.

Delhi police claim 3 witnesses lied in Sunanda Pushkar’s case, demand polygraph test

In a fresh twist in the Sunanda Pushkar death probe, the Delhi police has told the court that it would like to conduct a lie-detection test on three witnesses.

Alleging that the witnesses were lying and concealing valuable information about the case, the Delhi police Special Investigation Team moved an application in a Delhi court on Thursday demanding polygraph test on the witnesses, a report in The Times of India said.

Domestic help Narain Singh, a friend of Shashi Tharoor, Sanjay Dewan, and the driver Bajrangi have been accused of lying in their statements to the police.

The police has said that the three were close to both Tharoor and Pushkar and were present in Hotel Leela Palace just before Sunanda’s death. All three have been questioned multiple times times in the past by the Delhi Police.

Sunanda Pushkar. APSunanda Pushkar. AP

Sunanda Pushkar. AP

Listing the several times that the suspects tried to mislead the police, the SIT has said their earlier submissions have not been entirely true. Responding to the plea, the court has summoned all three witnesses on 20 May.

52-year-old Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in her suite at a five star hotel in south Delhi on the night of 17 January last year.

Tharoor had earlier submitted to the SIT data from computers — which included emails and other information in digital form — pertaining to the communication he had had with various individuals and authorities before and after the mysterious death of Pushkar.

With agency inputs

SC ban on neta photos on govt ads is another example of judicial over-reach

The Supreme Court is again treading on dangerous territory. It is repeatedly muscling into executive terrain using populist causes to take on a quasi-executive role.

The latest exhibit in this usurpation of legislative or executive power is the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday (13 May) to lay down guidelines on the use of politicians’ pictures on government advertisements. Henceforth, only the president, the prime minister and the chief justice of India’s pictures can be used in official ads.

Supreme Court of India. AFPSupreme Court of India. AFP

Supreme Court of India. AFP

Before one gets into why this is an unwarranted extension of judicial reach, let me be clear: the use of taxpayers’ money for semi-political purposes – or the building of personality cults, as the Supreme Court bench pointed out – is abhorrent. However, the issue of “gross wastage of public funds” has to be taken up by statutory auditors like the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the executive, the parliament, and finally voters. Rival politicians and civil society groups need to convert wastage of resources into electorally significant issues so that they are stopped. The building or debunking of “personality cults” is not for the courts to adjudicate on. Guidelines on government ads cannot be decreed by the courts. Their job is to interpret the law, not decide what the law should be on how public money should be used or not misused. Unaccountable judges should not decide how money should be spent.

The Supreme Court order is wrong on several counts, and parliament in fact should assert itself and make a law restricting court jurisdiction in such matters. Consider the sheer number of lines the court has crossed with this issue.

First, what is or is not wastage of public funds is not something the courts should decide. If the courts were so concerned about the wastage of taxpayers’ money why don’t they cut their own vacation time or reduce the pendency of cases first? Consider the sheer amount of national time and resources wasted on litigation that continues for decades. A Salman Khan case can take 13 years to reach a verdict and a Jayalalithaa case 19 years – and still no justice is seen to be done. The court is needlessly entering areas it cannot enter when its own backyard is a good enough example of wastage of taxpayer resources.

Second, the way the Supreme Court decided this case is also unacceptable. It set up its own expert committee under Prof N R Madhava Menon and accepted most of its suggestions, brought out under the title Government Advertisements (Content Regulation) Guidelines 2014. Since when has public spending become a matter for courts to give guidelines on? This is parliament’s territory, fair and square. By setting up a committee and framing rules for government ads, the court is essentially becoming both a law-making body and its executing authority. The court did the same with it Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money. Instead of focusing on the law, it has gotten right into its implementation in the area of black money. Now it is doing so with government spending priorities. This is unacceptable. If governments won’t pursue black money cases, the courts can’t decide they will do it. By the same logic, if courts can’t deliver justice or interpret the law responsibly, would they allow government to get into the business directly?

Third, the Supreme Court bench, headed by Ranjan Gogoi, also seems to have forgotten that India is a federal country. If the PM’s photo can be used along with the President, by the same token a Chief Minister’s photo should be usable along with the Governor’s within states. India is not run from Delhi. The bench order is sure to be contested by state governments. In effect, the SC has created more cause for more litigation and is party to wastage of more taxpayer funds.

Fourth, one wonders why the chief justice should ever want his photo in a government ad – even if involves a court event. The CJI’s job is that of chief guardian of the constitution’s provisions and the ordinary citizen’s rights. The CJI ought not to be a part of any government ad – except for ads involving court functions. But do these functions need to carry his photo? The purpose of such ads is to inform, and this purpose can be served without using a mugshot of the CJI. One wonders why the CJI was even in the picture in this judgment.

Fifth, let me repeat the larger question: is it the court’s job to decide how taxpayers’ money is to be used at all? If it can decide how a government ad is issued today, or how black money should be brought back, tomorrow it can decide that the country spends too much on defence and not enough on poverty alleviation, and mandate a committee to make suggestions on how to change the allocations.

Consider what a position the court has gotten itself into. Today, if an aggrieved taxpayer feels hounded by the taxman, he or she can approach to courts to give him or her protection. But what happens if the court’s own SIT is the cause of the grievance? Will the court restrain its own SIT?

The Supreme Court has begun acted extremely unwisely of late. The judicial system at the top has enough on its plate to keep itself busy for decades without taking on jobs best left to elected representatives and the executive. What the courts are doing now is no different from what politicians are doing: take on populist causes at the urgings of busy body civil society pressure groups.

The civil society groups have learnt to use the courts for short-cut solutions to problem afflicting society as a whole. And the courts are playing along.

Maybe, the PM did have a point about the courts being in awe “five-star activists”. Unwittingly, it is setting the stage for yet another confrontation with the executive.

SC ban on neta photos on govt ads is another instance of judicial over-reach

The Supreme Court is again treading on dangerous territory. It is repeatedly muscling into executive terrain using populist causes to take on a quasi-executive role.

The latest exhibit in this usurpation of legislative or executive power is the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday (13 May) to lay down guidelines on the use of politicians’ pictures on government advertisements. Henceforth, only the president, the prime minister and the chief justice of India’s pictures can be used in official ads.

Supreme Court of India. AFPSupreme Court of India. AFP

Supreme Court of India. AFP

Before one gets into why this is an unwarranted extension of judicial reach, let me be clear: the use of taxpayers’ money for semi-political purposes – or the building of personality cults, as the Supreme Court bench pointed out – is abhorrent. However, the issue of “gross wastage of public funds” has to be taken up by statutory auditors like the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the executive, the parliament, and finally voters. Rival politicians and civil society groups need to convert wastage of resources into electorally significant issues so that they are stopped. The building or debunking of “personality cults” is not for the courts to adjudicate on. Guidelines on government ads cannot be decreed by the courts. Their job is to interpret the law, not decide what the law should be on how public money should be used or not misused. Unaccountable judges should not decide how money should be spent.

The Supreme Court order is wrong on several counts, and parliament in fact should assert itself and make a law restricting court jurisdiction in such matters. Consider the sheer number of lines the court has crossed with this issue.

First, what is or is not wastage of public funds is not something the courts should decide. If the courts were so concerned about the wastage of taxpayers’ money why don’t they cut their own vacation time or reduce the pendency of cases first? Consider the sheer amount of national time and resources wasted on litigation that continues for decades. A Salman Khan case can take 13 years to reach a verdict and a Jayalalithaa case 19 years – and still no justice is seen to be done. The court is needlessly entering areas it cannot enter when its own backyard is a good enough example of wastage of taxpayer resources.

Second, the way the Supreme Court decided this case is also unacceptable. It set up its own expert committee under Prof N R Madhava Menon and accepted most of its suggestions, brought out under the title Government Advertisements (Content Regulation) Guidelines 2014. Since when has public spending become a matter for courts to give guidelines on? This is parliament’s territory, fair and square. By setting up a committee and framing rules for government ads, the court is essentially becoming both a law-making body and its executing authority. The court did the same with it Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money. Instead of focusing on the law, it has gotten right into its implementation in the area of black money. Now it is doing so with government spending priorities. This is unacceptable. If governments won’t pursue black money cases, the courts can’t decide they will do it. By the same logic, if courts can’t deliver justice or interpret the law responsibly, would they allow government to get into the business directly?

Third, the Supreme Court bench, headed by Ranjan Gogoi, also seems to have forgotten that India is a federal country. If the PM’s photo can be used along with the President, by the same token a Chief Minister’s photo should be usable along with the Governor’s within states. India is not run from Delhi. The bench order is sure to be contested by state governments. In effect, the SC has created more cause for more litigation and is party to wastage of more taxpayer funds.

Fourth, one wonders why the chief justice should ever want his photo in a government ad – even if involves a court event. The CJI’s job is that of chief guardian of the constitution’s provisions and the ordinary citizen’s rights. The CJI ought not to be a part of any government ad – except for ads involving court functions. But do these functions need to carry his photo? The purpose of such ads is to inform, and this purpose can be served without using a mugshot of the CJI. One wonders why the CJI was even in the picture in this judgment.

Fifth, let me repeat the larger question: is it the court’s job to decide how taxpayers’ money is to be used at all? If it can decide how a government ad is issued today, or how black money should be brought back, tomorrow it can decide that the country spends too much on defence and not enough on poverty alleviation, and mandate a committee to make suggestions on how to change the allocations.

Consider what a position the court has gotten itself into. Today, if an aggrieved taxpayer feels hounded by the taxman, he or she can approach to courts to give him or her protection. But what happens if the court’s own SIT is the cause of the grievance? Will the court restrain its own SIT?

The Supreme Court has begun acted extremely unwisely of late. The judicial system at the top has enough on its plate to keep itself busy for decades without taking on jobs best left to elected representatives and the executive. What the courts are doing now is no different from what politicians are doing: take on populist causes at the urgings of busy body civil society pressure groups.

The civil society groups have learnt to use the courts for short-cut solutions to problem afflicting society as a whole. And the courts are playing along.

Maybe, the PM did have a point about the courts being in awe “five-star activists”. Unwittingly, it is setting the stage for yet another confrontation with the executive.

SC says ex-CBI chief Ranjit Sinha’s meetings with Coalgate, 2G accused needs to be probed

New Delhi: Terming as “inappropriate” the alleged meetings of former CBI Director Ranjit Kumar Sinha with the accused in coalgate and 2G cases, the Supreme Court today said the matter “needs to be investigated” and asked the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to assist it.

A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said there is merit in the allegations that Sinha met persons in the absence of investigating officers of the cases and asked the CVC to file a report on the entire issue on or before 6 July.

PTI imagePTI image

PTI image

“We see merits in the submission. It is inappropriate on the part of CBI Director to meet persons in the absence of IOs,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri.

It also dismissed Sinha’s plea seeking prosecution of lawyer Prashant Bhushan for alleged perjury.

Bhushan had filed the plea on behalf of an NGO seeking a probe by a Special Investigating Team (SIT) against Sinha for alleged abuse of position in scuttling a probe into a coal block allocation scam case.

In the plea, NGO Common Cause had alleged that entries in the visitors’ register of the former CBI Director’s residence had made it clear that he was meeting the high-profile accused and those associated with coal block allocation.

The plea had said there was a need for a court-monitored SIT investigation to ascertain “whether any consideration exchanged hands”.

The bench had reserved its judgement on 13 April in the matter, in which Sinha had claimed that a “hidden hand” was the “controlling mind” of Bhushan and had accused him of interfering and scuttling the probe into Coalgate.

The NGO, in its application, had submitted that since the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Delhi Police had not lodged an FIR on its 25 November, 2014 complaint, there was a need for a court-monitored probe for alleged abuse of authority by Sinha as the then director of CBI.

However, Sinha had rejected the NGO’s claim that he and a few other senior officers of the level of Joint Director repeatedly overruled the investigating officers (IOs) and forced them not to register FIRs/RCs in cases where Preliminary Enquiries had been registered and directed closure of the cases.

In the plea for perjury against the NGO and Bhushan, Sinha’s counsel had said “there is not a single case in which Sinha overruled the unanimous opinion of the officers working under him with regard to recommending closure in which they have recommended conversion to a regular case.

PTI

SC to pass verdict on plea for SIT probe against ex-CBI chief Ranjit Sinha

New Delhi: The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its verdict on Thursday on a plea filed by an NGO seeking a probe by a Special Investigating Team (SIT) against former CBI Director Ranjit Sinha for allegedly scuttling the probe into a coal block allocation scam case.

Former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha. PTIFormer CBI chief Ranjit Sinha. PTI

Former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha. PTI

A bench, comprising Justices MB Lokur, Kurian Joseph and AK Sikri, had reserved its judgement on 13 April in the matter in which Sinha had claimed that a “hidden hand” was the “controlling mind” of lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who has filed the petition on behalf of the NGO, and has accused him of interfering and scuttling the probe into the coal scam.

In the plea, NGO Common Cause, has alleged that entries in the visitors’ register of the former CBI Director had made it clear that he was meeting the high-profile accused and those associated with coal block allocation former Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay.

The plea had also said there was a need for a court-monitored SIT investigation to ascertain “whether any consideration exchanged hands”.

The NGO, in its application, had submitted that since the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Delhi Police has not lodged an FIR on its 25 November, 2014 complaint, there was a need for a court-monitored probe for alleged abuse of authority by Sinha as the then director of CBI.

However, Sinha has rejected the NGO’s claim that he and a few other senior officers of the level of Joint Director repeatedly overruled the investigating officers (IOs) and forced them not to register FIRs/RCs in cases where Preliminary Enquiries had been registered and directed closure of the cases.

The bench is also hearing the application filed by Sinha accusing the NGO and its counsel Bhushan of perjury.

In the plea for perjury against the NGO and Bhushan, Sinha’s counsel had said “there is not a single case in which Sinha overruled the unanimous opinion of the officers working under him with regard to recommending closure in which they have recommended conversion to a regular case. Thus, the falsity of the statement made before this Court is evident from this count alone.”

PTI

Cricket betting key source of black money generation: SIT tells Supreme Court

New Delhi: Cricket betting has emerged as one of the key sources of black money generation and according to one account it could be as high as Rs 3 lakh crore which should be controlled, the Supreme Court was told on Tuesday.

The report of the court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), submitted to the court, has put the total amount from 339 accounts mentioned in HSBC bank was Rs 6,400 crore.

Representatipnal image. ReutersRepresentatipnal image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

On the basis of investigations carried out so far in respect of the 628 entries/persons having accounts in HSBC bank, there was no amount mentioned in 289 cases while a sum of Rs 237 crore has been recovered as tax and penalties on blackmoney, it said.

“Large amounts of black money are being transacted every year. As per the FICCI report, it comes to more than Rs three lakh crore. This is required to be controlled,” the apex-court appointed said in its brief summary to a bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu,

The (SIT) submitted its report on the progress made in tracing and bringing unaccounted wealth from tax heavens.

In its third report, the SIT has given the summary of steps taken, the results achieved and suggestions which can be adopted to bring illegal money back to country.

The SIT said it is awaiting response from various departments on its suggestions like making mandatory mentioning of the Permanent Account Number (PAN) in the invoice for sale and purchase of goods worth Rs one lakh or more.

The panel sought a direction from the court to the authority for implementation of its earlier suggestion that five additional courts be set up in Mumbai to deal with such cases.

Dealing with the investigation carried so far in respect of the 628 entries/ persons having accounts in HSBC bank, for which information came from France, it said that in 289 cases, no amount is mentioned.

“Amount is mentioned in 339 cases. (a) Total of peak balance is approx. USD 1.9 billion (i.e Rs 8624 crore). (B) Rs 2,224 is the total amount that of repeated/ duplicated entries on account of there being joint account holders/beneficiaries. (C) Hence, net amount comes to Rs 6,400 crore,” the report said.

The report further said, “Amount of Rs 237 crores approx. is recovered on tax and penalties demand raised. However, it does not include the amount paid by self assessment tax in certain cases.”

It also said that besides the 628 cases, additional information is being gathered in other 605 matters which are currently under investigation.

It also said that on the basis of report of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), inquiries have been conducted and the names of 430 resident Indians out of the total 534 Indians have been traced.

The panel further said that the IT returns in these cases shows that such transactions were not disclosed to the Income Tax department.

“During the course of investigation, 176 persons have admitted their relationship with such offshore entities/transactions. Further inquiry is under progress,” it said.

It said that the CBDT has been able to “detect unaccounted income to the tune of Rs 7,078 crore during 2013-14 and corresponding figure is Rs 4,456.96 crore for 2014-15 (till Feb. 15)”.

It also quoted a report of Global Financial Integrity (GFI) which revealed that illicit financial flow from India was “much more” and remained uncontrolled. The country ranks fourth in the list of 142 nations on the illegal money flow, it said.

The panel agreed with the suggestion of senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who has filed the PIL on the black money, that every candidate should file an affidavit before the election that he or she does not hold any illegal money abroad and in the event of contrary findings, the persons be barred from electoral politics.

The same yardstick could be made applicable to senior appointees in the government like RBI Governor, SEBI Chairman, CBI Director, etc., the panel said.

The SIT also referred to the alleged non-prosecution of Yadav Singh, CEO of NOIDA Authority, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. A large amount of unaccounted money was allegedly recovered from Singh’s possession.

PTI

Black money: SC to hear Subramanian Swamy’s plea on Tuesday

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday told BJP leader Subramanian Swamy that it will hear him on Tuesday on the issue of black money when the Special Investigation Team (SIT) is also likely to file a fresh status report.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu and justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy, said that it will take up the matter on Tuesday at 4 pm.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.

The BJP leader, in his plea, has suggested some measures for bringing back black money.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had asked the SIT, headed by former apex court judge Justice M B Shah, to file a fresh status report by 12 May on the progress made by it on black money probe.

Prior to this, it had asked the SIT to consider suggestions of senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who had filed a PIL in 2009 on the black money issue, on the way forward to bring the illegal money stashed in banks abroad.

The court had also said that the SIT, after considering the suggestions in accordance with law, would be sending “a copy of its report to that effect” in a sealed cover to the apex court.

Senior advocate Anil Divan, who represents Jethmalani, had alleged that “not a single rupee has come to this country” in the last six months and only some searches and attachment of properties have been carried out.

PTI

MPPEB scam: Cyber expert tried to drag CM Chouhan in to row, SIT tells HC

Jabalpur: The special investigation team monitoring the investigation into MP Professional Examination Board scam on Friday submitted its report to the Madhya Pradesh High Court saying that a cyber expert tried to drag Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the row using a forged document.

The HC accepted the report and asked SIT to take action against the expert.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. AFPShivraj Singh Chouhan. AFP

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. AFP

The expert, Prashant Pandey, is mentioned as `Mr X’ in court records.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh had relied on the document produced by Pandey to target Chouhan.

Singh had repeatedly accused STF of carrying on prosecution on the basis of a doctored excelsheet in which names of Chouhan and some others had been struck out. However, SIT said the original document given by Pandey was a fabrication.

SIT on Friday submitted the preliminary report to the division bench of Chief Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice Alok Aradhe, stating that the excelsheet and a pen drive submitted by Pandey were fabricated pieces of evidence.

Pandey submitted the forged document to influence the probe being carried out by a special task force, it added.

The judges, satisfied with the report, said SIT was free to launch necessary proceedings against `Mr X’ (Pandey) for this.

Pandey had submitted the excelsheet and pen drive to the Delhi High Court. He had alleged that STF was carrying out the investigation on the basis of doctored excelsheet which originally mentioned Chouhan but later the name was removed.

He had also said that he did not want his name to appear on the record because he feared for his life. The Delhi High Court directed that the document should be handed over to MP High Court. The latter asked SIT to examine it.

The original excelsheet was recovered from the computer of a top MPPEB official Nitin Mohindra now in judicial custody.

PTI

Gulberg Society case: Two accused in jail for 14 years want trial expedited

Ahmedabad: Two of the accused, facing trial in the Gulberg Society riot case, told a special court in Ahmedabad to expedite the proceedings as per the Supreme Court’s order.

Surendrasinh Chauhan and Shivcharan, who are behind bars for 14 years, on Thursday filed an application before judge PB Desai. It is likely to be heard on 28 April.

A burnt apartment inside Gulberg society. AFPA burnt apartment inside Gulberg society. AFP

A burnt apartment inside Gulberg society. AFP

“In pursuance of the Supreme Court’s order of November last year directing the special courts to conclude the trials of 2002 (post-Godhra) riots in Gujarat within three months, we demand…to expedite the trial,” said the application.

“We are in jail for around 14 years and even if proved guilty the sentence would not exceed more than 14 years.”

The Gulberg Society case is one of the nine cases of 2002 riots probed by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team. The court is conducting the trial on a daily basis.

SIT has named 66 accused and nine of them are in jail.

69 persons, including the former Congress MP Eshan Jafri, were killed at Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad during the riots on 28 February, 2002.

Earlier in the day, during the hearing on an application filed by survivors seeking to make four Gujarat police officials accused in the case, Special Prosecutor RC Kodekar said it should be rejected.

“A preliminary report filed by investigating officer of SIT AK Malhotra in the Supreme court stated that they have also considered the recommendations made by amicus curie Raju Ramchandran… and could not find any material evidence with regard to… these police officer,” said Kodekar.

The application sought arraignment of the then city Police Commissioner PC Pandey, Joint Commissioner of Police MK Tandon, Assistant Commissioner of Police PB Gondia and Assistant Commissioner of Police SS Chudasama.

PTI

Naroda Patiya case: Convict Babu Bajrangi gets 3-month bail

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Thursday granted temporary bail of three months to former VHP leader Babu Bajrangi, who is convicted in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case, on medical grounds.

Babu Bajrangi. ReutersBabu Bajrangi. Reuters

VHP leader Babu Bajrangi. Reuters

A division bench of Justices Ravi Tripathi and RD Kothari allowed the interim bail plea moved by Bajrangi’s wife seeking his release for 90 days for his eye treatment.

Bajrangi had moved the plea seeking temporary bail to undergo proper eye treatment. He had stated that he is turning blind gradually and that he needs to be out on bail for its treatment at a private hospital.

He is one of the 31 convicts in Naroda Patiya riot case of 2002 where 97 people of minority community were killed. Bajrangi was awarded ‘imprisonment till death’ by a special trial court in August 2012.

Bajarani had challenged his conviction before the High Court, but it had been stayed by the Supreme Court.

The former VHP leader was earlier granted temporary bail five times by the Gujarat High Court on various grounds.

Earlier, Bajrangi’s wife Meena Patel had written a letter to Gujarat Governor OP Kohli seeking mercy to release her husband as he was losing his vision.

Naroda Patiya is one of the nine cases probed by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).

A Special SIT court had in August 2012 awarded life imprisonment to then BJP MLA Maya Kodnani, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and 29 others for the 2002 riots at Naroda Patiya.

PTI

Black money probe: Supreme Court asks SIT to file fresh status report by 12 May

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by former apex court judge Justice MB Shah, to file a fresh status report by 12 May on the progress made by it on black money probe.

A bench comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu and justices Madan B Lokur and AK Sikri said that it has not received any new report and asked senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, appearing for SIT, to “request” the probe team to submit a fresh status report on or before May 12 so that “we can have a look at it before the summer vacation”.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The apex court had on 20 January asked SIT to consider suggestions of senior advocate Ram Jethmalani who had filed a PIL in 2009 on the black money issue, on the way forward to bring the illegal money stashed in banks abroad.

The court had also said that the SIT, after considering the suggestions in accordance with law, would be sending “a copy of its report to that effect” in a sealed cover to the apex court.

During the hearing today, the bench said that it will go through the report first and then decide as to whether it can be given to Jethmalani and asked him to wait till that time.

Jethmalani, who is being represented by senior advocate Anil Divan, said, “there is a determined effort to frustrate the judgement (on black money).”

The bench also agreed with the concerns of Jethmalani on the issue and said, “we are with you on that”.

On the last date of hearing, the bench had said it was more interested in getting back the black money stashed abroad than the disclosure of names of illegal account holders.

However, the Bench had accepted Jethmalani’s plea that the apex court-appointed SIT should consider his suggestions on bringing back black money stashed abroad.

Divan had alleged that “not a single rupee has come to this country” in the last six months and only some searches and attachment of properties have been carried out.

The apex court had also granted three weeks time to Divan to file reply to the stand of the Centre which has so far shown unwillingness to share documents concerning its correspondence with French Government on the issue.

Telangana sets up SIT to probe April 7 shooting of undertrials

The six-member team would be headed by IPS officer Sandeep Shandilya, IG (Personnel).

Representational Image
File Photo

The Telangana government constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Monday to probe the April 7 incident in which five undertrial suspected terror operatives were killed in an exchange of fire with the police in Nalgonda district. “In view of the fact that this case requires sustained and focussed investigation, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) is hereby constituted under the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code to investigate the case,” a Government Order (GO) released on Monday stated. The six-member team would be headed by IPS officer Sandeep Shandilya, IG (Personnel), the GO said. “The Special Investigation Team (SIT) will undertake a thorough investigation to bring out the circumstances leading to the death of five undertrial prisoners while being brought from Central Prison, Warangal, to Hyderabad city to attend court on April 7, 2015,” the GO said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Special Investigation Team shall collect all necessary and relevant evidence and also bring out lapses if any. After completion of the investigation, the SIT will file its report in the court of law, the GO said. Five undertrials were shot dead by the police on April 7 after they allegedly tried to escape from a police van near Tangutur under Alair police station limits in Nalgonda district, while being taken to a court in Hyderabad. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao had decided to appoint the SIT taking into account doubts expressed about the incident by some organisations and individuals. Also Read: MHA seeks report from Telangana government on killing of terror operatives

AAP MLA demands SIT probe into 1984 anti-Sikh riots

New Delhi: AAP leader Jarnail Singh on Wednesday demanded that a state-level special investigation team (SIT) be set up to probe the 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases.

AAP MLA demanded SIT probe into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Reuters

AAP MLA demanded SIT probe into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Reuters

The AAP MLA told the Delhi Assembly that a large number of people in his constituency is still waiting for justice. “Residents of many pockets in Tilak Vihar are still waiting for justice. Even during the last term we made an SIT to probe riot cases,” Singh said.

“The central government has also made an independent team so we have to see how we can work together in investigating the cases,” Singh said.

“Around 17 kin of Sikhs killed in the 1984 riots were compensated Rs 5 lakh by the central government. But now other victims of the area have started questioning us about the compensation,” Singh said in the Assembly.

Singh also condemned CBI’s move to file a closure report giving clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 riots case.

PTI

Sunanda Pushkar death: SIT waiting for FBI report, says Delhi Police chief BS Bassi

New Delhi: Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi on Friday said that they are waiting for the FBI to send their report on the kind of poison which caused Sunanda Pushkar’s death, while junked reports that they have approached Pakistan High Commission to question journalist Mehr Tarar in this connection.

Sources said that police will decide its next step after it gets the final report from the American investigative body.

Sunanda Pushkar. PTISunanda Pushkar. PTI

Sunanda Pushkar. PTI

DCP (South) Prem Nath had gone to the US last month to deliver the sample of Sunanda’s viscera to the FBI labs.

Investigators had sent the viscera samples there after AIIMS doctors had said that Indian labs lacked facility to identify the poison which caused her death.

The cause of death, termed “poisoning” by a panel of AIIMS doctors has remained the biggest mystery of the case as they could not specify the kind of poison and the way it reached Sunanda’s body.

“The Special Investigating Team (SIT) which is probing the case is waiting for FBI’s report in the case. A considerable amount of investigation has been completed in this case,” Bassi told reporters here today.

Questioned about reports suggesting that the Delhi Police has contacted Pakistan High Commission regarding Pakistan journalist Tarar’s questioning, Bassi said, “We haven’t established any contact with the Pakistan High Commission regarding the questioning of Mehr Tarar, these reports are untrue.”

As far as examining of Tarar is concerned, it will be done if required, he added.

Bassi had on March 12 said Tarar was a “relevant link” in the case and the SIT probing Sunanda’s death may question her soon.

A day before the former Congress Union Minister Shashi Tharoor’s wife was found dead in a luxury hotel here in January last year, she had a spat with Tarar on microblogging website Twitter over the latter’s alleged affair with Tharoor.

On her part, Tarar had said that she was ready to answer questions if it would help the police piece together the sequence of events.

The police chief also said investigators have also asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US to complete examination of Sunanda’s viscera as soon as possible.

Tharoor was questioned by the investigators for three times last month which was focused on the IPL controversy, which broke in early 2010 when he was the Minister of State for External Affairs.

52-year-old Sunanda was found dead in her suite at a five star hotel in south Delhi on the night of January 17 last year.

There were allegations that Tharoor “misused” his office to ensure that Rs 70 crore, equivalent to a 19 per cent stake in IPL Kochi franchise Rendezvous Sports, was paid to Sunanda, a charge denied by him.

Tharoor had submitted to the SIT last month some computer data — which included emails and other information in digital form — pertaining to the communication he had had with various individuals and authorities before and after the mysterious death of Sunanda.

PTI

MPPEB scam: Congress leader Digvijaya Singh submits pendrive to SIT

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Cong alleges CM Chouhan’s name was removed from documents linked to Vyapam scam

The Congress on Monday made fresh allegations against the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh in connection with the 2013 Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam better known as the Vyapam scam, alleging that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s name was removed a document seized from accused Nitin Mahindra’s computer.

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan. AFP

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan. AFP

“On 18 July, 2013, a hard disk was seized from Nitin Mahindra’s computer. When police seized the hard disk, why wasn’t it sealed? It wasn’t sealed because it had explosive material which needed to be changed,” KTS Tulsi, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh’s lawyer, said .

“The SIT itself has admitted that the original hard disk was cloned,” Tulsi said. He added that on the original hard disk, there was an Excel sheet with 131 names on it, which included the MP CM Chouhan’s name at various parts of the document.

“That’s why the Excel sheet was changed. The Chief Minister’s name had to be removed…At various places in the Excel sheet, the words ‘Chief Minister’ were replaced with ‘Minister’. At one place, ‘Chief Minister’ had been replaced with ‘Mrs’. At one place, ‘Chief Minister’ had been deleted and ‘Raj Bhawan’ was written in its place,” said Tulsi.

“At seven places, the Chief Minister’s name had been replaced with ‘Uma Bharti‘,” Tulsi said. He also said that in the cloned hard disk, apart from these changes, ‘Minister 2’, ‘Minister 3’ and ‘Minister 4’ had been replaced with ‘Minister’.

The Congress said that these allegations had been filed in an affidavit which would be presented to the SIT probing the scam. The party also demanded Chouhan’s immediate resignation as CM so that the investigation could continue without any bias.

“This affidavit is a challenge to the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister: Either he should resign or prosecute me for giving false evidence if he thinks my allegations are wrong,” said Digvijaya Singh.

“The Excel sheet from the hard disk seized from Nitin Mahindra’s computer is the evidence this case rests on,” said Singh. “The standard procedure for investigation in the Vyapam scam was not followed. The investigation has not told us so far whether the hard disk recovered was from Mahindra’s laptop or desktop.”

Singh also explained that even though Laxmikant Sharma had gone to jail because of the Excel sheet, the most important person involved in this scam was the MP CM and his family. “To save himself, he (Chouhan) did not even spare Uma Bharti and the Governor. In this entire probe, to save one person, the entire investigation has been tampered with,” he said.

“This is not just the biggest scam of Madhya Pradesh but also a crime against the families of the youth of the state,” said Congress leader Kamal Nath. “The Madhya Pradesh CM should resign,” he said, adding that ministers apart from the Chief Minister were involved in the scam.

“There can be no bigger issue than this for Madhya Pradesh. This is connected with the future of the state,” said Jyotiraditya Scindia.

BJP reacted to the allegations made by the Congress and said that all the charges were false and baseless. “Congress is wrong. Everyone in the country knows that the allegations are wrong because the investigation carried out by the MP government has been sincere and transparent,” MP BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan told Times Now. “Congress is not getting its hands on anything, which is why it is making these baseless and false charges.”

Sunanda Pushkar murder: Tharoor appears before SIT for third time in two days

New Delhi: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Friday appeared for the third time in two days before the Special Investigation Team(SIT) that is probing his wife Sunanda’s mysterious death.

Tharoor visited Sarojini Nagar Police Station informing the SIT that he was leaving for Thiruvananthapuram later in the day.

Shashi Tharoor. AFPShashi Tharoor. AFP

Shashi Tharoor. AFP

Police sources said that the SIT has asked Tharoor to keep them informed about his movements and contact details so that the team can get in touch with him whenever they need him during investigation. However, police has not put any restrictions on his movement as of now.

The former Union Minister reached the police station around 1 pm and spent about half-an-hour. Although he was not formally questioned during the visit, but police did ask him some supplementary questions regards what he had told them yesterday during two rounds of questioning that lasted nearly seven hours.

Meanwhile, sources also said that a team from the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Delhi Police is in Mumbai to look into the business model of defunct IPL Kochi franchise and see whether there was anything fishy in its financial transactions. The team is also likely to meet BCCI officials in this regard.

Yesterday’s questioning of Tharoor was mainly focused on the IPL controversy which had broken out in early 2010 when he was minister of state for external affairs.

There were allegations that he had “misused” his office to ensure that Rs 70 crore, which was equivalent to 19 percent equity in IPL Kochi franchise Rendezvous Sports, was paid to Sunanda, a charge denied by him.

Tharoor was yesterday quizzed for nearly seven hours, spread over two rounds including for two hours late in the night during which he faced tough questions mainly on IPL controversy.

The questioning of Tharoor by a five-member SIT team took place at the Anti Auto Theft Squad (AATS) office in Vasant Vihar in South Delhi.

Delhi Police had earlier examined the former Union minister on 19 January.

Another round of questioning of Tharoor may take place over the weekend, police sources said yesterday.

Tharoor’s interrogation came on a day when Sunanda’s viscera sample was sent to a FBI laboratory in the US for further probe.

Tharoor’s domestic help Bajrangi and Narayan Singh, his common friend Sanjay Dewan, his PS Praveen Kumar and Rajat Mohan (cardiologist of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital) were questioned along with him earlier in the day. Besides, they were also separately quizzed.

Sunanda was found dead in her suite at a five star hotel in south Delhi on the night of 17 January, 2014, a day after she was involved in a spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar on microblogging website Twitter over the latter’s alleged affair with Tharoor.

Police had last month filed a murder case and formed an SIT to probe the case. Police sources also said that Tharoor submitted some computer data — which included emails and other information in digital form — pertaining to the communication he had with various individuals and authorities before and after Sunanda’s death.

Asked about the matter, Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi, said, “Tharoor was called today and we took some information and data. We will now analyse the data and see… We gathered detailed information from him yesterday, now his statement will be analysed.”

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters at Thiruvananthapuram airport this evening, Tharoor refused to divulge details of his questioning while maintaining that he was “available” for the police whenever they wanted to speak to him.

“I am not getting into any details of anything which is between me and the police. When the investigation is on, it’s my duty to cooperate with the investigation, nothing else. As far as I am concerned, every Indian citizen has the duty to cooperate with the authorities as they do their duty. That’s what I am doing,” he said.

“Beyond that, it is not appropriate for me to answer questions on any details. I have not done so in Delhi and am not going to do so in Thiruvananthapuram. I am here as your MP for the next few days,” he added.

Asked when he would be questioned again, he said, “Whenever they (police) want to speak to me, I am available.”

PTI

Black money probe: Prosecution initiated against 60 resident Indians, says FM Jaitley

The government is expected to disclose the names of close to 60 Indians and entities as it has recently initiated tax evasion prosecution proceedings against them as part of its crackdown on black money accounts as reported in the HSBC bank’s Geneva branch list.

Speaking to the media today, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that assessment has already been completed for 350 account holders’ while the remaining is expected to be completed by  31 March, 2015. He further said that a prosecution has been launched against 60 people ho allegedly had more than a total Rs 1500 crore  stashed away in illegal foreign accounts.

Referring to the Indian Express report, which said that nearly 1195 Indians had bank account in HSBC, Jaitley said that if the list contains names of resident Indians, appropriate action as per law will be taken against them. The secret documents reveal names of over 100,000 alleged HSBC account holders, details of their accounts in Geneva and their balances for the year 2006-07, a total of over 100 billion dollars. The 1,195 names from India allegedly include those of businessmen and politicians.

Earlier in December, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) had submitted a report to the Supreme Court which revealed that persons on the HSBC list held Rs. 4,479 crores in Swiss banks.

Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Atishi Marlena on Monday said that it is clear that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government is not serious about the issue of black money as the names listed in connection with it had already been announced in the past.

“The names in the paper today were announced by us in the past, we want black money SIT’s scope to be expanded. If a newspaper can bring out the names why not the government? It’s clear that this government is not serious when it comes to bringing back black money,” said Marlena.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday said that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) is the most competent authority to take cognizance of the information over black money issue and that it would take the appropriate steps on the matter.

“I think the SIT is already investigated into the names which were present with the government earlier. The income tax departments are also investigating. SIT is the most competent authority to take cognizance of such information and will take appropriate step. The government had made its position on the issue of black money very clear,” said party spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao.

Representational image. Reuters

Sources said that those against whom legal action has been initiated include some corporates, business houses and other individuals as the Income Tax department has completed its probe and filed prosecution complaints against these entities, on the directions of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to tackle black money and illegal assets held by Indians abroad.

They said the total amount in these accounts is estimated to be to the tune of Rs 1,500-1,600 crore.

Sources said the complaints, under I-T laws, have been filed in various courts of the country and investigations in these cases have been completed by the taxman as these cases will get “time barred” by March 31 after which any legal action against them could not be carried out as the cases pertain to the period of 2008-2009.

“The disclosures of these names is part of the government’s commitment to curb cases of black money and of illegal funds stashed abroad by Indians. The I-T department aims to get conviction in these cases very fast,” they said.

also see

Black money: Cooperating with India despite ‘tense’ relations, insists Swiss govt

HSBC admits Swiss bank failings on allowing wealthy clients to dodge taxes

Narendra Modi should apologise to the nation on black money issue: Congress

The SIT, headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Justice MB Shah, had said in its last report to the government and the Supreme Court in December 2014 that the black money holders names in HSBC Geneva list will be taken to their logical conclusion soon.

With inputs from PTI

Black money probe: Govt to disclose 60 names, amount in accounts could be Rs 1500 crores

New Delhi: The government is expected to disclose the names of close to 60 Indians and entities as it has recently initiated tax evasion prosecution proceedings against them as part of its crackdown on black money accounts as reported in the HSBC bank’s Geneva branch list.

Representational image. Reuters

Sources said that those against whom legal action has been initiated include some corporates, business houses and other individuals as the Income Tax department has completed its probe and filed prosecution complaints against these entities, on the directions of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to tackle black money and illegal assets held by Indians abroad.

They said the total amount in these accounts is estimated to be to the tune of Rs 1,500-1,600 crore.

Sources said the complaints, under I-T laws, have been filed in various courts of the country and investigations in these cases have been completed by the taxman as these cases will get “time barred” by March 31 after which any legal action against them could not be carried out as the cases pertain to the period of 2008-2009.

“The disclosures of these names is part of the government’s commitment to curb cases of black money and of illegal funds stashed abroad by Indians. The I-T department aims to get conviction in these cases very fast,” they said.

also see

Narendra Modi should apologise to the nation on black money issue: Congress

Budget 2015: Dear Jaitley, salaried class deserves exclusive tax benefits

Poor BoB, Vijaya earnings show stress on public banks, mirror true state of economy

The SIT, headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Justice MB Shah, had said in its last report to the government and the Supreme Court in December 2014 that the black money holders names in HSBC Geneva list will be taken to their logical conclusion soon.

PTI