Middlemen in every walk of life, Supreme Court fumes

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Ray, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Middlemen in every walk of life, Supreme Court fumes

    NEW DELHI: "Can citizens expect fair governance," asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday, exasperated by the repeated reference to alleged involvement of middlemen in the Radia tapes, a cache of intercepted phone conversations of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with businessmen, politicians, journalists and bureaucrats.

    After going through the court-appointed team's analysis of transcripts of all 5,831 telephone intercepts, the CBI's 2G scam probe team through senior advocate KK Venugopal said the alleged "criminality" indicated in award of Air India contracts and acceptance of post-retirement assignments in private companies by babus, who had officially dealt with issues relating to them, needed to be investigated by lodging separate cases.

    A bench of Justices GS Singhvi and V Gopala Gowda agreed with Venugopal that all these conversations which revealed "criminality" in various issues having "far reaching impact on the administration of the whole country" must be investigated thoroughly by lodging separate cases.

    It also asked additional solicitor general Paras Kuhad to submit that part of the analysis and the Radia tapes which related to Air India purchases to a coordinate bench hearing a petition by NGO 'Centre for Public Interest Litigation' (CPIL), which has alleged that irregularity in purchase and leasing of aircraft for Air India and dubious allotment of air routes had cost the exchequer nearly Rs 50,000 crore.

    The bench also said that the conversations, if true, indicated presence of "arms dealers in every walk of life". "If that is the situation, can citizens expect fair governance," it asked in exasperation, especially after finding that these conversations indicating brazen disregard for rule of law had been in possession of authorities for years yet no action was taken on it.

    In the telecom sector, Venugopal referred to a top bureaucrat and said, "See the coincidence. So far as this gentleman is concerned, the lady was directly acting for the company and this man immediately after retirement becomes her employee. It is so clear how it is manipulated. This gentleman forms opinion who should be appointed in the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC). The proposal for investigation should be accepted in this case."

    Justices Singhvi and Gowda said the conversations indicated that "people were making the law obsolete". Venugopal agreed and said, "A rot has set in and warrants intervention by the court."

    On the issues referred to in the conversation concerning purchases by state governments, Venugopal said these matters even though related to state could also be looked into by CBI as a constitution bench of the apex court had settled the law that higher judiciary could ask the central agency to investigate certain matters even in the absence of the state's consent.

    CPIL counsel Prashant Bhushan said the inaction of the authorities to investigate criminality revealed in the intercepted telephone conversations was mainly because the contents were kept a closely guarded secret. "If it had come out in the open, then there would have been public pressure on the authorities to investigate the issues," he said and suggested that separate FIRs should be registered in those cases where criminality had been revealed.

    The court could not proceed with the hearing on the issue why no steps were taken earlier on criminality revealed in Radia tape and who was responsible for not informing higher authorities about contents of the intercepted conversations because additional solicitor general PP Malhotra was not briefed properly by the income tax department. The hearing will continue on Wednesday.

    Middlemen in every walk of life, Supreme Court fumes - The Times of India

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    If this is the state of affairs, can citizens really expect any honest governance?

    To imagine businessmen, politicians, journalists and bureaucrats.are all in cahoots to rob the nation of its civilisational integrity.

    Every action of the Govt appears to have been mired with criminality.

    If indeed it has to be investigated honestly (which for starters will not be done, given that all investigation agencies are compromised handmaidens), then there will be a multitude of cases for the multitude of scams that the tapes will surface.

    And why it will never be done honestly is that too many prominent heads will roll and be shamed!
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    And here is the start of stalling justice being done through searching and honest probes.

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    Top babus entitled to same protection as judges from probe: Centre

    NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday fought tooth and nail before the Supreme Court to defend the legal provision mandating probe agencies to take "prior permission" before investigating officers of the rank of joint secretary and above and said top bureaucrats were entitled to protection on par with judges.

    Arguing before a bench of Justices RM Lodha, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, which is monitoring the probe into the coal scam, the Centre batted on the front foot despite being repeatedly asked to explain its stubborn support for Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, which mandates probe agencies to seek prior permission before proceeding against top bureaucrats.

    Attorney general GE Vahanvati was blunt. Citing the apex court's 1991 judgment in Veeraswami case, he said there was a reason why the Supreme Court thought of protecting judges of the higher judiciary from being proceeded against by investigating agencies and ruled that no FIR could be registered against them without prior sanction from the chief justice of India (CJI).

    Referring to the provident fund scam, investigation into which was monitored by the apex court, the AG said, "Conduct of several judicial officers and judges came to light. But they could not be investigated by the CBI without prior permission from the chief justice of India. Similarly, there are situations and situations. The government only wants to maintain purity of investigations by looking into what the case is against the top bureaucrats prior to considering request for proceeding against them."

    But NGO 'Common Cause' counsel Prashant Bhushan said the apex court bench, monitoring probe into the 2G scam, had recently stated that there was no need of prior permission to probe top bureaucrats in the spectrum scam and added that he did not see how the coal scam probe, which too was monitored by the apex court, was differently placed.

    The AG faulted the 2G scam probe monitoring bench's order saying, "How is a one-line order binding on a three-judge bench? The order does not refer to any specific argument or logic." But the bench wondered what could be the Centre's objection to do away with "prior permission" clause in court-monitored probes.

    The AG's task was made doubly difficult by the CBI, which through senior advocate Amarendra Saran unconditionally agreed with the court's view that no prior permission to investigate babus should be required in cases where court was monitoring the probe.

    Given the standoff between the Centre and the CBI over "functional autonomy" of the agency to insulate it from political interference and the renewed attempt of the agency to shed the court fastened "caged parrot" tag, the AG hit back at the agency and said, "Let us not proceed with a perception that what CBI says is gospel truth."

    The CBI was not found wanting in joining the war of words and Saran said, "At this stage (of investigation), let truth be not examined as that will be scrutinized during the trial. We should concentrate on not harassing anyone."

    But petitioner ML Sharma, ever eager to interject, pointed out that despite court orders, the coal ministry was yet to furnish all files relating to coal block allocations and claimed he had specific information that files relating to allocations to the Jindal group had not been given to the CBI.

    But Saran said the CBI had received the files relating to Jindals while admitting that some files had not been furnished yet. The bench ordered, "As regards the ongoing investigations, we make it clear that necessary information as required by the CBI and all necessary files that may be required for inquiry or investigations will be supplied by all concerned without any delay."

    The bench of Justices Lodha, Lokur and Jospeh asked the CBI to submit a status report on August 27 detailing investigations conducted till August 25 and posted the matter for further hearing on August 29.

    Top babus entitled to same protection as judges from probe: Centre - The Times of India
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Court glare on Radia tapes

    New Delhi, Aug. 7: The Supreme Court today voiced concern over the “trans-border transactions” the Niira Radia tapes have thrown up, saying the intercepted telephone conversations had shed light on a serious matter.

    “What is recorded is trans-border transactions. Somebody buys a corporate house from outside… there are many other such things. It is a very serious matter,” a bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and Y. Gopala Gowda observed while hearing inconclusive arguments.

    Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, who appeared for the CBI, acknowledged “a widespread malaise”, alluding to illegal deals worked out over the phone by influential people. “We need to go to the roots,” he said. The court was hearing a plea by the NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), which sought a directive to make public the tapes, a set of over 5,800 transcripts of telephone conversations that Radia, a former corporate lobbyist, had with top politicians, bureaucrats, journalists and powerbrokers.

    Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the NGO, complained that though the tapes were recorded in 2009, neither the income tax department nor the CBI had so far bothered to take action against the persons involved in the conversations as they were “too powerful”.

    The bench said the conversations indicated presence of middlemen in every department. “Virtually in every matter in every nook and corner there are private persons. You can call them liaisoning officers or middlemen and they are present. It is a very dangerous situation,” Justice Singhvi, who headed the bench, observed as he adjourned the hearing to Monday.

    Some of the controversial tapes are said to have revealed conversations among politicians, industrialists, corporate powerbrokers and mediapersons settling deals, business and political.

    The conversations were recorded by tax authorities following a complaint to the then finance minister in November 2007 that Radia had established a business empire worth Rs 300 crore in a decade with apparently no credible source of income.

    The department had told the court it had recorded Radia’s conversations from August 2008 to May 2009 after secretly putting her phone on surveillance.

    In February this year, the court set up a six-member team of sleuths drawn from the CBI and the income tax department to scrutinise and segregate the tapes to “find out the element of criminality” in them.

    At an earlier hearing, the court had said it had gone through some of the transcripts and observed that “some of them are innocuous but others are not” and they needed to be “scrutinised”.

    Court glare on Radia tapes

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    These Radia tapes does indicate that anything can be done in this country without the fear of prosecution so long as you are in the good books of the powers that be.

    Here the Govt laments about the economy slumping and talks of high moral grandstanding schemes for poverty alleviation on one hand, while allegedly looting or abetting loot on the other hand.

    Whatever be the case, will the Govt ever allow the CBI to unravel this can of worms that the powers that be have assiduously built up to feather their own nest at the Nation's expense?
     

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