SC to hear on Monday version of CVC which probed CBI director Verma

New Delhi:The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday the version of the Central Vigilance Commission, which was directed to complete within two weeks its preliminary inquiry against CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma, who has been divested of his duties and sent on leave by the Centre.

The hearing assumes significance as Verma, who has a running feud with Special CBI Director Rakesh Asthana, has been appearing before the three-member CVC headed by K V Chowdary and is understood to have given point-wise refusal to all the allegations levelled against him by his deputy.

Verma’s plea, which had been heard by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on previous occasions, is now listed for hearing on November 12 before a two-judge bench comprising the CJI and Justice S K Kaul.

The decision that a smaller bench would hear the case has come after the CJI, in his recent informal interaction with journalists, said that on Mondays and Fridays, when the apex court hears miscellaneous cases, only two-judge benches would sit.

The court had appointed former apex court judge A K Patnaik to supervise the ongoing inquiry of CVC against Verma.

Besides issuing notices to the Centre and the CVC on the plea of Verma, the apex court, on October 26, had also set a deadline of two weeks for the CVC to complete the preliminary inquiry against the CBI director.

It had also barred IPS officer M Nageswara Rao, who has been given interim charge of the CBI, from taking any major decision.

The top court on Monday would also peruse the decisions taken by Rao from October 23, including transfer of investigations and change of investigating officers and may pass some appropriate orders on them.

It had said that a list of all the decisions taken by Rao between “October 23, 2018 and up to this hour including decisions with regard to transfer of investigations, change of investigating officer(s) etc will be furnished to the court in a sealed cover on or before November 12, 2018 whereafter orders as would be appropriate will be passed by the court.” 

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CVC, had said that the CVC has been conducting an inquiry into the allegations made in the August 24 note/letter of the Cabinet Secretary with regard to Verma.

Besides the plea filed by Verma, the court is also seized of the PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, which has sought a probe by special investigation team against CBI officers including Asthana, and had issued notices to the Centre, CBI, CVC, Asthana, Verma and Rao asking them to respond to it by November 12.

Asthana has also moved the Supreme Court with a separate petition in the matter and has sought removal of Verma from the post of CBI Director.

“We want to see preliminary probe report in 10 days to decide whether it requires further probe,” the bench had said.

Highlights of SC hearing on Verma’s plea

New Delhi:The following are the highlights of the Supreme Court hearing in CBI Director Alok Verma’s petition challenging the Centre’s decision to divest him of all his powers:

– Enquiry into the allegations made in the August 24 note/ letter of the Cabinet Secretary on Verma to be completed by Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) within two weeks.

– The enquiry to be supervised by retired Supreme Court Judge AK Patnaik.

– All decisions taken CBI Joint Director M Nageswara Rao, who has been given the duty of CBI director from October 23 till today to be submitted in sealed cover to SC by November 12, the next date of hearing.

– Rao cannot take any major or policy decision; to continue routine work to keep CBI going.

– After furnishing of list of decisions taken by Rao, SC to pass appropriate orders relating to transfer of investigations, change of Investigating Officers.

– Notice issued to Centre and CVC on Verma’s petition, asked to file responses.

– SC also dealt with plea by NGO Common Cause seeking SIT probe into allegations of corruption against CBI officers including Special Director Rakesh Asthana.

– Notice issued to Centre, CBI, CVC, Asthana, Verma an Rao on the NGO’s plea.

– Asthana approached SC with his petition, to be listed later

Professor in Delhi HC for acceptance of resignation by IIT

Professor in Delhi HC for acceptance of resignation by IIT
Professor in Delhi HC for acceptance of resignation by IIT

Delhi High Court has sought responses of the Centre, CVC and IIT Kharagpur on a plea by one its professors who had highlighted discrepancies in the Joint Entrance Examination system, that the institute be directed to accept his resignation as he has been offered a teaching position at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva issued notice to the Centre, Central Vigilance Commission and the institute, seeking their replies by February 7 on the application of professor Rajeev Kumar, who also claims to be a whistleblower and RTI activist.

The application was filed by Kumar, who has been praised by Supreme Court for improving the Joint Entrance Examination system, in his 2012 petition in which he had alleged inaction by the government in protecting him from victimisation as per the Whistleblower Gazette Resolution 2004.

He has claimed that IIT Kharagpur did not accept his resignation as his petition was still pending in court which had on March 21, 2013 put on hold the institute’s decision to impose a penalty of compulsory retirement on him.

In the application filed through advocate Pranav Sachdeva, Kumar has said he had moved a plea before the President of India, who is the Visitor of IIT Kharagpur, claiming that the disciplinary inquiry against him was biased.

The petition is pending before the President.

Kumar has alleged in his plea that he had sought a teaching position in JNU to prevent “continued victimisation”.

“This petitioner has been repeatedly victimised by IIT officials’ arbitrary, unreasonable and vindictive decisions.

First, IIT made the petitioner academically dysfunctional for almost two years. Then, IIT crippled the petitioner in most of his professional tasks by conducting disciplinary proceedings by complete denial of natural justice,” he alleged.

He has said that IIT had given him a no-objection certificate to take up teaching with JNU on lien for a period of two years from June 2015, on his giving an undertaking that he would resign from IIT if he gets outside employment before expiry of the lien period.

His application also claims that he was relieved by IIT on June 11, 2015 and therefore, acceptance of his resignation was only a technical formality.

It also claims that JNU by a letter of May 2016 had confirmed his employment in the varsity’s School of Computer and Systems Sciences.

( Source – PTI )

Coal scam: SC to hear CVC’s plea on Nov 30

Coal scam: SC to hear CVC's plea on Nov 30
Coal scam: SC to hear CVC’s plea on Nov 30

The Supreme Court today said it would hear the CVC’s plea seeking clarification on whether it could share confidential reports on the coal scam with former CBIofficial M L Sharma, probing the meetings of former agency chief Ranjit Sinha, after the Chief Justice’s bench hears the case.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu which has been hearing 2G scam cases, is also seized with the plea of the court-appointed probe panel headed by Sharma that the copy of the visitors’ diary of Sinha’s official residence be made available to it.

Since the 2G bench had ordered to keep the visitors’ log book under sealed cover, the special bench, hearing coal scam cases, had referred Sharma’s plea to the CJI’s court.

“It appears that the matter was listed on October 30 before a Bench of the Chief Justice and Mr Justice Amitava Roy. The matter was then adjourned to November 6, but could not be listed on that day since the Bench was not available.

“The Registry may now list the matter before a Bench presided over by the Chief Justice on Friday, November 20. Thereafter, list the matter on November 30 at 2.00 p.M. Before this Court,” the three judge bench of Justices M B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri said.

Earlier, the apex court had agreed to hear a plea filed by Chief Vigilance Commission (CVC) seeking clarification if it could share the confidential reports on coal scam with former CBI officier M L Sharma who is inquiring about the meetings former agency chief Ranjit Sinha had in his official residence.

Sharma was appointed by the apex court to probe whether the meetings of Ranjit Sinha with the accused in coal block allocation scam had impacted the probe or their final outcome. It had on September 14 allowed Sharma to access whatever records he felt necessary for the purposes of inquiry.

After court’s directions, Sharma has asked CVC to make available to him its comments on the CBI’s probe in each of the 254 coal blocks allocation.

He had also asked the CVC to provide him correspondence that might have been exchanged between it and the CBI on the subject.

However, the reports sought by Sharma from CVC includes some information which the anti-corruption watchdog had submitted to the apex court in a sealed cover after scrutinising the CBI probe into each of 254 coal blocks allocation.

( Source – PTI )

Prior sanction needed for action against officials? SC reserves verdict

supreme courtThe Supreme Court Thursday reserved verdict on the validity of a legal provision that mandates the CBI to seek the government’s prior sanction before proceeding against an officer of the rank of joint secretary or above on charges of corruption.
However, the six-bench constitution bench said that if it had to invalidate section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act merely on the grounds of its being arbitrary, then the measure would be referred to a still larger constitution bench of seven judges as there were conflicting judgments on this count.
The constitution bench of Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice A.K. Patnaik, Justice Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya, Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla was hearing a 2005 reference by a three judge bench on the validity of section 6A.
Making the reference to the constitution bench, the court in 2005 had said: “In short, the moot question is whether arbitrariness and unreasonableness or manifest arbitrariness and unreasonableness, being facets of article 14 of the Constitution of India are available or not as grounds to invalidate a legislation”.
Reference to the larger bench was made on a petition by politician Subramanian Swamy. The government has resisted the plea seeking to invalidate the section, contending that it needed to protect its senior ranking officers who were involved in crucial decision-making process and they could not be exposed to undue harassment and exercise of police powers by the CBI.
Holding that section 6A, far from frustrating the rule of law in fact furthers the rule of law, the central government has contended that the legislative provision can’t be negated by the courts on the grounds of arbitrariness or unreasonableness unless it violated any of the fundamental rights.
Seeking to demolish the government’s position, counsel Prashant Bhushan asked the court how could the government decide whether the sanction could be given or not when it is itself or its subordinate officers are under cloud.
He wondered why a private citizen could not lodge a complaint against a government officer under the Prevention of Corruption Act as it violated the citizen’s rights and principles under article 21. “Whether approval by the Lokpal and CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) would be sufficient in this matter,” the court inquired as Bhushan said why the government should decide and not the CVC or the Lokpal.

(Source: IANS)

2G: Raja allowed to take CVC report’s copy

A Delhi court Thursday directed the CBI to present the inquiry report of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in the 2G case and allowed accused former telecom minister A. Raja and to take a copy of it.

While hearing Raja’s plea, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge O.P. Saini asked the probe agency to present the CVC report in court.

The court said accused Raja would be at liberty to take a copy of the CVC report.

Raja had moved an application before the court seeking the report’s copy saying that the CVC in 2009 conducted an inquiry into the allegations of allotment of 2G spectrum by the department of telecommunications (DoT) and Oct 12, 2009 the commission forwarded its direct inquiry report to the CBI.

The court said that the CBI argued that the CVC’s communication could not be disclosed and had not filed any response on Raja’s plea.

The order said: “The CBI has admitted that the aforesaid communication and direct inquiry report (of the CVC) is in its custody. However, its case is that the communication was sent in official confidence and as such cannot be disclosed.”

“However, the CBI has chosen not to even file a reply to the application despite the opportunity given to it, what to talk of claiming privilege,” it added.

“I find no merit in the submission of the CBI. The prayer is allowed. The aforesaid communication of the CVC along with its direct inquiry report be produced in court and the accused/applicant A. Raja would be at liberty to take a copy of it,” the court said.

Filing the application, Raja said the CVC had asked the CBI to take action in the matter.

The CVC’s Oct 12, 2009 communication directing an inquiry “have a material bearing on this case and are relevant for the cross-examination of the investigating officers in this matter”.

(Source: IANS)

2G Scam case: IT, CBDT to brief JPC on July 18

Top brass of the Finance Ministry and Income Tax department will brief the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) examining the 2G spectrum allocation in 2G scam on July 18.

 The officials from the I-T and Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) will be led by Finance Secretary R S Gujral and are expected to brief the panel about the progress and status of investigations made in the case till now.

 The I-T would place on record the status of its assessment and tax evasion proceedings that it has conducted so far against various telecom firms and individuals involved in the case.

 The department is also expected to brief the JPC members about the directions it has got from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in this case and the steps initiated subsequently.

 The I-T department, which has till now detected over Rs 1,500 crore of tax irregularities during its probe in the 2G Scam case, has found that the telecom companies involved in spectrum allocation had sold their controlling stakes to foreign firms through foreign shores after allotment of the spectrum.

 It had also issued notices to various firms asking them to pay tax on the capital gains from such transactions which include a Rs 80 crore tax notice to a real estate development firm under the transfer pricing clause.

 The joint team of I-T and CBDT officials have briefed the JPC twice earlier.

 Earlier this month, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had briefed the panel about the progress of its probe in the 2G Scam case.

Officials under surveillance of CVC for alleged corruption

Almost 205 officials working in different government departments have come under the surveillance of Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) for their alleged involvement in corruption.

Of these, a highest of 42 officials working with Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), 19 from Ministry of Railways, 14 from State Bank of India, 12 from Syndicate Bank and 10 each from Canara Bank, Union Bank of India and Bharat Coking Coal Limited have been recommended imposition of penalty by the probity watchdog.

Eight officials from the Punjab National Bank, seven each from Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, Indian Overseas Bank and the State Trading Corporation of India, six from Vijaya Bank, four each from Oriental Bank of Commerce, UCO Bank, DSIDC and Oriental Insurance Company Limited, among others, have been advised penalty, the CVC said in its monthly performance report for May.

The Chief Technical Examination (CTE) wing of the Commission also effected recovery of about Rs 18 crore after inspecting public procurement related work during the month.

The CVC has recovered about Rs 26.42 crore between January and May this year on the basis of technical examination of 26 government-run departments.

“The Commission is deeply concerned over continuing delay in filling up the post of Chief Vigilance officers in MMTC Ltd and Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC),” it said.

The CVC processed 3,243 complaints (including 19 whistle blower) during the month.

“The Commission advised issuance of sanction for prosecution in respect of 10 officials of various ministries, departments, organisations which include an IFS officer working as Deputy Conservator of Forests in the Ministry of Environment and Forests and three Senior Managers of Canara Bank,” the report said.

During the month prosecution sanctions were issued by the Competent Authorities in 15 cases which include a Chief Manager of Indian Overseas Bank, a Senior Manager of Canara Bank, one Director (Chemicals) of Bureau of Indian Standards, one Director of Ministry of External Affairs and one Garrison Engineer of Ministry of Defence, it added.

12 Bihar officials booked for corruption charge

The Central  Vigilance Bureau has lodged an FIR against 12 Bihar  officials on corruption charge  and criminal conspiracy for illegal allotment of 182.07 acre to 44 persons in Kishanganj district of Bihar.

Vigilance Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Ashwani Kumar lodged the FIR on June 25 last against the then Kishanganj district collectors Radheshayam Bihari Singh and Subodh Nath Thakur among 12 officials for allotment of 182.07 acre government and public land on a lease of 90 years to 44 persons for tea plantation in Pothia and Thakurganj circles.

Besides Singh and Thakur, corruption charges were labeled against,  the then Circle Officers (COs) of Pothia circle Raghunandan Jha and Fateh Fayyad, Thakurganj circle’s COs Poonam Kumari Jha and Md. Maqsood Alam, DCLRs Ramesh Mishra and Rahbare Islam, Sub-Divisional Officers (SDOs) Pramod Kumar Singh and Madan Mohan Dev; Additional Collectors Ram Niwas Pandey and Bangali Ram and other unknown persons have been named as accused.

The officials have been charged under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act including section 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).

The matter was put up before vigilance judge R N Singh yesterday for necessary action in this connection, Kumar said.

Two top lawyers’ contest on Lokpal

Two top lawyers – Arun Jaitley of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress – set the pace of debate on the Lokpal bill in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday with their debate. Here are the points and counter-points:

Jaitley: You (the government) want to control appointments, want government control over investigating agency, use Lokpal to intrude every aspect of civil society…The legal architecture you have made is not very strong…The government is creating a constitutional cocktail…I regret to say this is half-hearted legislation.

Singhvi: You want one Lokpal, subsume the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) under Lokpal, move citizens’ charter under Lokpal, allow Lokpal suo moto power, have preliminary inquiry by Lokpal, actual investigation by Lokpal, prosecution by Lokpal. Thank God, you did not say judgment must also come from Lokpal. You are creating a behemoth of unimaginable proportions. The Prime Minister’s Office will look like pygmy in comparison.

Jaitley: We don’t want the present (government) bill but also don’t want to go back today (Thursday) without passing a Lokpal bill. We want a strong Lokpal bill…Would they allow a weak bill or support amendments to make it a strong bill…? Lokpal is a primary integrity institution…Are you going to subvert it? Will you kill the Lokpal in the womb? We want to create an independent Lokpal, you want to create a subservient Lokpal. You want a pliable agency so that it is a rudderless institution. If we are creating history, we should not create bad history.

Singhvi: Don’t do it for our sake but join us in passing the Lokpal Bill for the sake of the nation. No use putting a string of conditionalities in your statements. No use saying I want to pass a strong effective bill after three months after referring it again to a committee, after further discussions.

Jaitley: They wanted to create a phoney Lokpal and a smokescreen. They wanted to make it a toy and then say it is a constitutional authority…Whoever conceived this is alien to criminal jurisprudence. Why create this unworkable mechanism…? This is not a question of victory and defeat of the government.

Singhvi: Just because a good idea is given by Congress general secretary (Rahul Gandhi), it must (not) be shot down. In writing, you said there was no objection to this. Then here you say, yes, we want constitutional status but only if we take away Lokayukta part and if we give strong bill. Now you and I have different ideas of strong bill but what does constitutional status affect the Lokayukta part? You are trying to find excuses to oppose constitutional status.

Jaitley: Please don’t create an area where you are creating for the first time a precedent. The Trinamool Congress is right – state government has right to frame law and to decide on action against state officials. Why are you creating constitutional havoc? You create a system where disciplinary action against officer of the state can take place via a central law?…States won’t be able to run their governments…The authority to deal with state services can only be with the state.

Singhvi: Want to clarify for our friends on this side (Trinamool Congress) that the government has bent over backwards and has already amended the law to say clause on Lokayukta will only apply with consent of the states.

Jaitley: Why should citizens’ charter not be part of this? You agreed to this in Sense of House on August 27. For Lokayukta, too, we have to do this in correct manner.

Singhvi: To simplify matters, there is not a sentence here in five lines of Pranab Mukherjee (Sense of House) that suggest citizens’ charter should or must be under the same Lokpal.