Construction scam: No anticipatory bail to 4 PWD engineers

A Delhi court has denied anticipatory bail to four PWD officials, accused of conspiring with a contractor in an alleged construction scam involving over Rs 3 crore, saying the allegations against them are serious.

Special Judge Sanjay Khanagwal, who last week rejected the bail of contractor Vinay Bansal in the matter and sent him to jail, rejected the plea of the four Public Works Department engineers and said they did not deserve protection of the court.

The four PWD officials – executive engineer Praveen Kumar Kathureea, assistant engineer Suresh Pal and junior engineers Baljeet Singh and Ashutosh Singh — are named along with Bansal, son of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s late brother-in-law Surender Bansal, in an FIR lodged by the Delhi Police’s Anti-Corruption Branch.

“It is true being public servants, any arrest by the investigating officer may not only affect their personal but social life as well but the offence alleged against the applicants is of serious nature where money has been paid from the public exchequer without properly checking the bills and monitoring the quality of construction work,” the judge said in his order yesterday.

Being public servants, he added, they may not flee from justice but the nature and gravity of accusation does not entitle them to protection of the court.

“Therefore, the present applications for grant of anticipatory bail are dismissed,” the judge said.

The FIR was lodged in May last year on a complaint by Rahul Sharma, the founder of Roads Anti-Corruption Organisation (RACO), for offences under sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 471 (Using as genuine a forged document) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and section 13 (1) (d) () of the Prevention of Corruption Act against all of them.

The complaint alleged that the four PWD engineers were supervising the construction work of a drain by Renu Constructions Company, owned by Bansal in partnership with his late father, and cleared the bills produced by the firm without proper verification.

It was alleged that the internal quality assurance team of PWD did not inspect the work despite the tender given to the contractor being 46 per cent below the estimated cost.

The accused officials, in their anticipatory bail plea, said they did not have any role in the awarding of tender and asserted that it was done through e-tendering in a fair manner.

They also claimed to have provided all necessary documents to the investigating officer since the lodging of the FIR last year.

The prosecutor, however, alleged that the accused PWD officials conspired with Renu Constructions and released a payment of Rs 3.10 crore without proper verification of the work done at the site and deliberately supported the contractor for undue pecuniary gains.

He also alleged that the accused did not provide correct information regarding Bansal’s association with the construction firm, of which he was a partner, because of which the investigation was delayed.

On May 17, the court refused to grant bail to Bansal, who was arrested by the Anti Corruption Branch, and sent him to judicial custody of 14 days.

The court had noted that the offences alleged against the accused were not only of cheating but also of preparation of forged and fabricated bill for the purpose of release of contract amount from the PWD.

Bansal has now approached the Delhi High Court for bail, which is pending.
RACO, an organisation which claims to monitor construction projects in the national capital, had alleged that a firm linked to Bansals was involved in financial irregularities in building a drainage system in north-west Delhi.

No threat to man for complaining against CM, says ACB

No threat to man for complaining against CM, says ACB
No threat to man for complaining against CM, says ACB

The Delhi government today told a court here that there was no threat to the life of a man who had complained against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and others alleging irregularities in grant of contracts for roads and sewer lines.

The submission was made in a status report of the investigating officer on the behalf of Delhi Police as well as the Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) of city government pursuant to the court’s direction issued on the last date of hearing.

However, the submission was opposed by complainant Rahul Sharma’s counsel Rishi Kapoor who said there was ample CCTV footage to support their claim that Sharma and his family were under grave threat.

The court has now put up the matter for arguments on a status report on September 27 when the CCTV footages will also be shown and placed before it.

The court was hearing a complaint of Sharma, founder of NGO Roads Anti-Corruption Organisation (RACO), seeking lodging of an FIR against Kejriwal, his brother-in-law Surender Bansal, proprietor of a construction firm and a public servant for alleged irregularities in grant of contracts for roads and sewer lines in Delhi. Bansal died in May this year.

Earlier, Sharma’s counsel had argued that Bansal had died under mysterious circumstances and the complainant was facing grave threat to his life.

He had claimed that the ACB had withheld a report given by the special cell of Delhi Police on the threat perception to the complainant, which should be placed before the court.

The court had on July 31 sought a status report regarding the complaint and the alleged threats given to the complainant and his family, while directing the SHO of the probe agency to look into the matter.

The ACB officer and prosecutor Balbir Singh had told the court that previous reports on alleged threat perceptions were already on record and according to the Uttar Pradesh Police, there was no threat to the complainant’s life.

During pendency of the complaint in the court, the ACB had registered three FIRs on its own on May 8 regarding alleged irregularities in granting the contracts.

A magisterial court had earlier directed the ACB to assess the threat perception regarding Sharma again after he submitted that on May 30 two unidentified motorcycle-borne persons fired gun shots at him when he was travelling in his car along with a cousin.

In his complaint, Sharma has alleged “deep-rooted corruption” in the road and sewer line projects, claiming that documents showing purchase of material were “concocted and forged” and a loss of over Rs 10 crore had been caused to the public exchequer.

( Source – PTI )

Probe on in DCW recruitment case: ACB to court

Probe on in DCW recruitment case: ACB to court
Probe on in DCW recruitment case: ACB to court

The Anti-Corruption Branch today told a special court that further probe in a case involving Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal for alleged irregularities in the recruitment process is going on.

The investigating officer (IO) said further investigation, as directed by the court earlier, was underway and sought time to complete the probe.

Special Judge Hemani Malhotra granted time to the probe agency and fixed the matter for May 5 for further hearing.

Maliwal, who was earlier granted bail by the court in the matter, was also present at the hearing and sought copies of deficient documents supplied with the charge sheet.

The court also directed the IO to provide copies of documents to the AAP leader.

Maliwal was summoned as accused by the court on January 18 after taking cognisance of the charge sheet filed by ACB.

The court, however, had said the probe has not identified Maliwal’s associates with whose connivance “illegal practices were adopted” and directed the police to probe their role and file supplementary charge sheet against them.

The charge sheet was filed by ACB on December 21, 2016 against Maliwal in connection with alleged irregularities in appointment of AAP workers in DCW.

The ACB had taken up the probe on a complaint by former DCW chief Barkha Shukla Singh, who had alleged that several AAP supporters were given plum posts in the women’s panel.

Singh, an ex–MLA, had filed the complaint against Maliwal and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on August 11, 2016, alleging that many illegal practices were adopted by them to financially benefit aides and associates of Aam Aadmi Party at the cost of public exchequer.

A case was lodged against Maliwal on September 19 last year for alleged offences of cheating and criminal breach of trust by public servant under IPC and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

ACB had said during probe, it was found that Maliwal, in connivance with others has allegedly abused her official position and deliberately ignored the procedure laid down rules to employ associates or AAP workers beyond the authorised sanctioned strength of 26 posts, causing unauthorised benefits to them at the cost of public exchequer.

It was also found during the investigation that the appointments were made without inviting any applications by way of publication or constituting a selection board.

According to the prosecution, the probe revealed that the remuneration amount was hiked in a whimsical manner thereby granting undue pecuniary benefits to the close associates of Maliwal and those connected to AAP.

( Source – PTI )

Plea against Kejriwal: Court says ACB’s report unsatisfactory

Plea against Kejriwal: Court says ACB's report unsatisfactory
Plea against Kejriwal: Court says ACB’s report unsatisfactory

A Delhi court expressed unhappiness over an “unsatisfactory” report of the Anti-Corruption Branch on threat perception to the complainants in the alleged PWD scam in which a criminal plea has been filed against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his relative.

Metropolitan Magistrate Abhilash Malhotra said no efforts have been made by the agency to contact the complainants or the SHOs and officials of police stations where three FIRs have already been registered regarding the alleged threat.

The court, which had asked the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) to file a report after assessing the threat perception, directed the Additional Commissioner of Police of the ACB to consider these factors and submit a detailed assessment report by April 11, the next date of hearing.

“No efforts have been made to contact these persons (complainants). There is no whisper in the report regarding the threat perception to the family members of the complainant (Rahul Sharma).

“No efforts have been made to contact the SHOs/IOs of the three FIRs to take account of the situation. No further attempt is made to seek reply from the office of the DCP (north west) regarding the assessment made by them so far.

Accordingly, I am of the opinion that the report submitted is unsatisfactory,” the magistrate said and directed that a copy of its order be sent to the Additional CP (ACB) for compliance.

Three FIRs have already been registered by the three complainants, including Sharma, at different police stations in Delhi and Noida on the allegations of threat and assault.

The ACB said in its status report that it has intimated the police of Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Budh Nagar and the DCP of northeast Delhi to assess the threat perception and provide security to Sharma.

It also annexed the reply of Gautam Budh Nagar’s Senior Superintendent of Police stating that Sharma was not available at his house and no threat perception has surfaced.

The court had earlier directed the ACB to provide security to the complainants, observing that the plea has been filed against “influential persons” and security of the complainants are of “paramount importance”.

The court had earlier also asked the Delhi Police’s Economic Offence Wing (EOW) to assess the threat perception and provide security to the complainants but no action has been taken and later the case was transferred to the ACB.

The court was hearing a complaint filed by Rahul Sharma, the founder of Roads Anti-Corruption Organisation (RACO), for direction to police to lodge an FIR against Kejriwal, his brother-in-law Surender Bansal, proprietor of a construction firm, and a public servant for alleged irregularities in the grant of contracts for roads and sewer lines in Delhi.

Advocate Kislay Pandey, appearing for Sharma, has alleged “deep-rooted corruption” and said the documents showed no material was actually purchased for executing the projects.

The complainant has alleged that documents showing purchase of material were “concocted and forged”, and a loss of over Rs 10 crore has been caused to the public exchequer.

The complainant alleged that Bansal operated through several dummy firms to obtain government contracts with the connivance of several senior PWD officials.

These contracts never got executed “whereas shockingly all the payments were cleared under pressure from Kejriwal”, he alleged.

( Source – PTI )

Anti-corruption branch to probe role of Maliwal’s aides: Court

Anti-corruption branch to probe role of Maliwal's aides: Court
Anti-corruption branch to probe role of Maliwal’s aides: Court

Swati Maliwal, AAP leader and Delhi Commission for Women’s chief, was today summoned as an accused in a case of alleged irregularities in the recruitment process of the women’s panel, with a Delhi court directing Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) to further probe and identify her associates in the crime.

Special Judge Hemani Malhotra said there was sufficient material and evidence to take cognisance of offences against Maliwal under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and directed her to appear before the court on February 6.

The court, however, said the investigation has not identified Maliwal’s associates with whose connivance “illegal practices were adopted” and directed the police to probe their role and file supplementary charge sheet against them.

“After meticulously examining the material placed before this court which includes the FIR, statements of the witnesses and documents, I am of the opinion that there is sufficient material and evidence to take cognisance of offences under Section 13(1)(d) and 13(2) (criminal misconduct by public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act,” the judge said.

“However, from material placed on record, it appears that investigation has not identified other associates of Maliwal in whose connivance the illegal practices were adopted.

“It would be, therefore, in the interest of justice that the IO be directed to investigate the matter further and identify the associates/aides of Swati Maliwal who had connived with her and file charge sheet under section 173(8) CrPC,” the court further said.

The charge sheet was filed by Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) on December 21, 2016 against Maliwal in connection with alleged irregularities in appointment of AAP workers in DCW.

The ACB had taken up probe on a complaint by former DCW chief Barkha Shukla Singh, who had alleged that several AAP supporters were given plum posts in the women’s panel.

( Source – PTI )

HC refuses to restrain Meena from entering ACB office

HC refuses to restrain Meena from entering ACB office
HC refuses to restrain Meena from entering ACB office

Delhi High Court today asked Lt Governor-appointee Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) chief M K Meena to act in accordance with the law, while refusing to issue directions to restrain him from entering office as sought by the Delhi government.

Justice V P Vaish also declined Delhi government’s pleas to stop Meena from removing the FIR book from ACB headquarter, recording new FIRs and seeking immediate removal of paramilitary personnel posted there.

As senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the Aam Aadmi Party government, sought directions to restrain Meena from allegedly pressurising ACB officials, the court directed Meena to act in “accordance with law”, while posing whether the ACB would function “smoothly” if he was restrained from entering the ACB office.

It also issued notice to the Centre directing it to file its response within two weeks and listed the application for further hearing on August 11 along with the ongoing litigation challenging Centre’s notification giving Lt Governor Najeeb Jung absolute powers to appoint bureaucrats in the capital.

The court was hearing Delhi government’s plea alleging that Meena has been “misusing his powers to browbeat and threaten officials of ACB and the Vigilance Department”, after AAP government-nominated ACB chief S S Yadav accused Meena of threatening and pressuring him.

“On numerous occasions he (Meena) has put pressure on ACB officers to transfer all cases of corruption involving police personnel from ACB to Delhi Police,” Jaising alleged.

She sought an interim order saying “it was an emergent situation not an urgent” situation to ensure that ACB is allowed to function smoothly.

Jaising also alleged that the “Centre has been repeatedly attempting to interfere with and hamper the smooth functioning of the ACB. The notification which have been impugned in the writ petition were the first attempt in this direction.”

“I want these intimidating tactics be stopped,” she said adding that once the intimidation was removed the ACB will show how many anti-graft complaints are received.

This submission was made in response to the court’s query whether there are any cases where an anti-graft complaint was received and was put up before Meena but no approval was granted for lodging an FIR.

Delhi HC refuses to suspend home ministry order on ACB

Delhi HC refuses to suspend home ministry order on ACB
Delhi HC refuses to suspend home ministry order on ACB

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined to put on hold the union home ministry’s May 21 notification that barred the Delhi government’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) from acting against the central government officers for criminal offences.

A division bench of Justice S. Murlidhar and Justice I.S. Mehta refused to suspend the notification, saying a similar matter is pending before another bench and tagged it with that public interest litigation (PIL).

“Vacation bench cannot stay the notification, same PIL has already been pending before another bench. Let that bench hear it,” the court said.

The PIL filed by practising advocates R.S. Raju and V. Sudheer challenged the May 21 notification according to which the Delhi Lt. Governor holds discretionary powers for appointments and transfers to key bureaucratic posts in the capital.

The plea challenged the “constitutional validity” of May 21 notification, saying that the notification issued by the Centre was “ultra vires” of constitutional provisions, that is Article 239 AA (4), and that it does not have the jurisdiction over matters connected with services of bureaucrats in the national capital.

The notification, by removing “services” from the state list, amounts to amending the constitution, without actually complying with the detailed procedure laid down for the process under Article 368, it said.

Earlier, the Delhi government filed a plea and challenged the notification, which the court refused to put on hold.

A PIL was also filed by a law student on which the court refused to pass any order and posted it for August 5.

The power tussle between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung is rooted in the city’s unique position as a union territory functioning as the capital, with the city government having no say over several important departments and agencies that function under the Lt. Governor, who reports to the central government.

CBI moves SC for filing of case against lawyer Kamini Jaiswal

The CBI Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking direction for the registration of an FIR against lawyer Kamini Jaiswal for making deliberate and false statements to seek recusal of CBI director Ranjit Sinha from 2G case investigation and trial.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) application seeking action against the lawyer Jaiswal was mentioned before the bench of Justice H.L.Dattu, Justice S.A.Bobde and Justice Abhar Manohar Sapre seeking court’s nod to file the application.

The application has contested Jaiswal’s contention that Sinha had over-ruled all his officers including the director of prosecution in order stop the iagency from proceeding against former communications minister Dayanidhi Maran in the Maxis-Aircel deal.

It has also contested the Jaiswal point that Deputy Inspector General of Police Santosh Rastogi – the lead investigation officer – was transferred out of 2G investigation and relieved, and describing Jaiswal’s contention on both the counts as “mischievous and based upon untrue facts in which misstatements have been deliberately made so as to obtain favourable orders” from the court.

Contesting Jaiswal’s claim on Rastogi, the CBI said he was “only a supervisory officer who joined as the head of the Anti Corruption Branch, Delhi on Oct 30, 2012, much after the filing of the charge-sheet when the trial in 2G case had begun”.

It said Rastogi was transferred July 16 from ACB’s Delhi branch to Special Crime-II branch in CBI Delhi in chain of DIG level transfers and “it is noteworthy that he had never been relieved from ACB Delhi till date”.

On alleged differences within the CBI on proceeding against Maran in Maxis-Aircel deal, the CBI application said there were difference of opinion between Rastogi and the director of prosecution.

“The CBI director noticing the difference of opinion between Rastogi and the director of prosecution had, vide his note dated Oct 18, 2013, sought the views of the attorney general on the prosecutability of evidences against the accused people and the sustainability of the case in the trial court.”

However, the then attorney general was of the view that evidence against Maran in Aircel-Maxis deal was not sustainable for want of documentary evidence, it said.

The CBI application says that at no stage had Sinha said “no case is made out” and his opinion that there was some weakness in the prosecutable evidence was based on the views expressed by the subordinate officers.

After Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi gave the opinion on Aug 4, 2012, favouring prosecution, the same day, Sinha issued an order for filing charge sheet against Maran, it added.

Kejriwal now targets Mukesh Ambani, Moily

kejriwalDelhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday directed the anti-corruption branch (ACB) of his government to register an FIR against Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani, petroleum minister Veerappa Moily, former petroleum minister Murli Deora and former director general of hydrocarbons VK Sibal for increasing the price of natural gas produced in India. The increase will cost the country Rs. 54,000 crore per year.

Kejriwal’s move follows a complaint by former cabinet secretary TSR Subramaniam, former navy chief Admiral RH Tahiliani, former revenue secretary EAS Sarma and Supreme Court lawyer Kamini Jaiswal, which alleged that ministers and bureaucrats, in collusion with RIL, increased gas prices to give the company undue benefits of Rs. 1.2 lakh crore.

Read: Government acted on complaints by four activists

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had, in June last year, approved a gas pricing formula fixed by a committee headed by former RBI governor C Rangarajan. According to this formula, gas prices in India will rise from $4.2 per unit to $8.4 per unit from April 1 this year.

PSUs like ONGC and OIL produce 70% of India’s gas and so, will get the lion’s share of the benefits accruing from the higher gas prices. RIL’s KG-D6 block accounts for 15% of India’s gas production.

“The Delhi government’s direction to order the registration of an FIR in relation to the union cabinet’s decision to revise the price of gas is indeed shocking,” RIL said in a statement. “We deny these irresponsible allegations and propose to resort to available legal remedies to protect our reputation and preserve the pioneering efforts and investment made by Reliance so far.”

Read: Kejriwal timeline: Civil servant to Street-fighter to CM

According to Moily, the higher price is necessary to attract more domestic and foreign investment in India’s oil and gas sector. “If we can import gas at $12-16 per unit, what’s wrong with paying half that price to domestic producers?” he had told HT in a recent interview.

Read: Moily slams Arvind Kejriwal govt over FIR order; Gurudas hails move

But experts pointed that gas prices, unlike oil prices, vary widely throughout the world. In the US, it is available at $4.5 to $5 per unit. “RIL’s partner Niko has a 25-year contract with the Bangladesh government to supply gas at $2.34 per unit,” Kejriwal said and questioned the role of the Congress-led UPA government in the decision as well as the BJP’s silence.

The logic: if companies can produce gas at lower prices elsewhere, it can also be done in India.

“In case this price hike is allowed to take place, it will make the life of the common man miserable since it will have a cascading effect on prices of transportation, domestic gas and even electricity,” Kejriwal said.

Reacting to the charge, Moily said: “I think I should sympathise with his ignorance. He should know how the government functions… how these things are done. There should be a system for fixing prices. Nothing is done without expert advice. If he (Kejriwal) can give some money, we will be very happy to reduce the prices.”

Read: Government defends new gas price, but questions abound

The Supreme Court is hearing two public interest litigations, by CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta and NGO Common Cause, respectively, challenging the higher gas price and seeking cancellation of RIL’s contract to produce gas in the KG-D6 basin, off the Andhra Pradesh coast.

“I am going to write to the Prime Minister and the petroleum minister to put on hold the price hike till the probe by our ACB is over,” the Delhi chief minister said.

Sibal and Deora couldn’t be reached for their reactions.

(Source: IANS)

Court reserves order for Jan 30 on comp against PM

An order of Delhi High court has been reserved for January on a complaint seeking registration of an FIR against Prime MinisterManmohan Singh and former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran for their alleged role in the 2G scam.

According to the Special Judge Sangita Dhingra Sehgal after hearing the arguments from the CBI as well as the complainant Vivek Garg, “Arguments have been heard. Put up for order on January 30.”

During the arguments, Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran told the court that the complaint should have been filed before the Special Court constituted exclusively to deal with all the cases and matters pertaining to 2G spectrum scam.

He said, “The complainant (Garg) should move the special court. The present complaint, filed before any other court except the special court is not maintainable. This court may direct this matter to be placed before the special court.”

Garg, who in his complaint has accused the Prime Minister and Maran of “unlawfully changing and diluting” the original Terms of References (ToRs) for vacation and reallocation of spectrum leading to the 2G scam, told the court that first the CBI should lodge an FIR and then further proceedings can be done in the special court.

Garg also filed his reply in response to the CBI’s status report submitted in the court earlier and sought initiation of action against the agency for filing a “misleading” report.

The CBI had earlier told the court that Garg’s complaint has been merged with the FIR already registered by it against Maran and others in October 2011.

Garg had earlier sent a complaint to the CBI and also to the Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi government, before moving the court.