Kerala HC orders probe into disappearance of controversial case file

Kochi: The Kerala High Court today directed its vigilance registrar to probe into the mysterious disappearance of some files of a controversial case from its premises

Justice B Sudheendra Kumar ordered the probe taking serious note of the security breach in its premises leading to the disappearance of files.

The security of the high court was at stake and the situation was alarming, said Justice Kumar while ordering the probe.
The court had earlier found that some files related to the Malabar Cement corruption case had gone missing.
The files were part of a 2015 petition, seeking a CBI probe into some alleged instances of corruption in Malabar Cements Limited.
The judge directed the high court’s vigilance registrar to investigate the matter and said the remaining documents should be kept in the custody of the state’s chief justice.

Supreme Court appoints probe team on money laundering

The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce Monday its verdict on a plea that a special investigation team (SIT) probe the alleged money laundering by suspected tax evader Hasan Ali Khan and Kolkata based-businessman Kashinath Tapuria, among others.

The plea by jurist Ram Jethmalani also sought a direction to the central government to disclose names, given to it by the German authorities, of Indian citizens who allegedly laundered money to LGT bank in Liechtenstein – a principality in Europe bordering Switzerland and Austria.

Jethmalani earlier told the apex court bench of Justice B. Sudershan Reddy and Justice S.S. Nijjar that he did not expect much from the high-level committee the government has set up to oversee the investigation by various agencies into money laundering.The government constituted the committee under the chairmanship of secretary, department of revenue.Its members are deputy director Reserve Bank of India, directors of the Intelligence Bureau, the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), director generals of the Narcotic Control Bureau and Revenue Intelligence, director of the financial intelligence unit, and joint secretary of CBDT.

The chairman of the committee was mandated to report to the apex court on the investigations carried out by various departments.Besides the money laundering case involving huge amounts of black money stashed away in tax havens abroad, the apex court’s first day after summer recess will witness 28 judgments being delivered. The summer break started May 16.The apex court bench of Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice T.S. Thakur are likely to pronounce a verdict on the plea of Haryana politicians Abhay and Ajay Chautala challenging their prosecution by the CBI in a disproportionate assets case relating to the period when they were members of state assembly from June 2000 to March 2005.

The Chautala brothers have challenged the institution of the corruption case against them on the grounds that the investigating agency initiated the proceedings without taking prior sanction of the speaker of the assembly.Both Abhay and Ajay Chautala are at present members of the assembly and are grandsons of the former deputy prime minister Devi Lal. Their father Om Prakash Chautala is a former chief minister of Haryana.The case related to admission of students under the reserved category of other backward classes (OBC) in central educational institutions, particularly in Delhi University and the Jawaharlal Nehru University, would also come up Monday.

This matter would be heard by the bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik. A petitioner has sought a uniform policy for the admission of OBC students under the reserved category.

The bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Cyriac Joseph would hear a petition by the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party challenging the Jammu and Kashmir and central governments’ policy of allowing the return and rehabilitation of former militants from Pakistani Kashmir.

Police told to give probe details on cash-for-vote case

The Supreme Court Monday asked Delhi Police to explain what it had done thus far to probe bribery charges during a trust vote in parliament in 2008.

Delhi Police Commissioner B.K. Gupta was asked by judges Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha to file a status report on the investigation into charges that MPs were bribed to back Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government during the volatile voting in the Lok Sabha over the India-US nuclear deal.

The apex court also issued notice to the central government.

This follows former chief election commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh’s submission that no investigation had been done into the bribery allegation by the Crime Branch of Delhi Police.

The investigation was handed over to Delhi Police after a parliamentary committee found the evidence of bribery charges unconvincing.

Senior Council Rajiv Dhawan, appealing for Lyngdoh, told the court that though three years had passed, no progress has been made in the case.

NGO moves apex court over probe into cash-for-votes scam

Referring to the US diplomatic cables revealed by WikiLeaks on what has come to be known as the cash-for-votes scam, an NGO Monday approached the Supreme Court for a direction for constituting a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the case.

The WikiLeaks expose hinted that the Congress allegedly bought MPs to win the 2008 trust vote in the Lok Sabha.

Petitioner India Rejuvenation Initiative sought the setting up of ‘a team of independent investigators to investigate all aspects surrounding the scam’.

The apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice R.M. Lodha adjourned the matter for two weeks as the petitioner had not annexed the first information report (FIR) that was filed in connection with the alleged scam.

The petition said that the government did noting to unearth the truth as it knew that the ‘truth will come out the moment any serious and independent investigation is conducted into the matter’.

The NGO said the independent SIT should have power, infrastructure and budget required for the investigation.

The petition said that the SIT should complete its investigations within six months and the same should be monitored by the court.

The SIT should have the powers to pick expert prosecutors and other investigating officers drawn from ‘different departments and wings of the government’, the petition said.

The FIR related to the alleged scam is pending with Delhi Police for the last three years. ‘Delhi Police are directly under the government of India, the same very entity whose conduct is being investigated,’ the petition said.

Referring to the July 22, 2008, episode in which wads of currency notes were placed on the table of the Lok Sabha by some opposition members, the petition said that influencing parliamentarians to vote for the party in power had ‘shaken the roots of democratic polity’. It was ‘the darkest day’ in the history of Indian parliament.

Government asked to notify CBI probe into Batcha’s death

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the government to issue within three days a notification for handing to the CBI the probe into the mysterious death of Sadiq Batcha, a close aide of former Telecom Minister A. Raja.

“In the facts and circumstances of the case, we direct the government to issue notification within three days transferring the investigation of the case to the CBI.

Thereafter, the CBI will take over the investigation,” said a bench of justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly.

The court passed the order after taking on record Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising’s statement that Tamil Nadu Government has given its consent for transfer of the probe to the CBI, which has expressed its willingness to take over the case.

She said a notification in this regard will be issued and all the preconditions have been satisfied under the law.

38-year-old Batcha, who had been quizzed by the CBI in connection with the 2G scam, was found dead in mysterious circumstances at his home in South Chennai on March 16 and his wife had claimed that he committed suicide as he was “unable to cope with the pressure” of the probe.

Mr. Batcha was the managing director of Greenhouse Promoters, which the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate suspected to be a front for Raja.

The apex court ordered the CBI probe into Batcha’s death on a plea by NGO, Centre for Public Interest litigation (CPIL), on whose petition the court had earlier ordered the CBI to probe the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

Mr. Batcha was said to have been found hanging in his house in Vannia Teynampet in South Chennai by his wife and his driver.

The CBI and the ED had conducted searches at his official and residential premises in December. He had been called for questioning four times since then

Court orders probe into Delhi parking mafia

In an order that could put an end to the widely prevalent network between parking mafia and the police in the city, the Delhi high court on Wednesday directed the Delhi Police commissioner to inquire into one such nexus at Mangalam commercial complex in Rohini. “Such a nexus cannot be tolerated in a democratic polity.

 The allegations raised are serious. Delhi government has a responsibility to curb the same ruthlessly. We add with a note of caution,” said a bench of chief justice Dipak Misra and justice Sanjiv Khanna, while issuing notice to the Delhi government, Delhi Police commissioner, joint CP (vigilance) and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

The court also sought a detailed report by May 4 from the police commissioner and the vigilance department.

RK Singh, lawyer for the petitioner Shamsher Kaushik, argued in court: “Parking areas in Delhi are a breeding ground for criminal activities. Free parking areas are converted into paid parking, thanks to such a nexus. Delhi Police annually earned around R1,000 crore in this manner.”

The vigilance department of Delhi Police had recommended to the commissioner about filing of an FIR against SHO Rohini, four other policemen and two men working for the parking contractor. A sting operation had revealed the policemen’s involvement in the running the unauthorised vehicle parking on a DDA plot.

However, as reported by Hindustan Times on March 24, commissioner BK Gupta directed only “departmental proceedings” against the accused, it was revealed in a reply to an RTI query by Kaushik.

“Information received through RTI confirmed it was an unauthorised parking area from where the mafia and police made money. Anyone who complained were threatened by police personnel,” Kaushik said.

A day after HT published the report, the commissioner directed to file an FIR against the said policemen and persons. The policemen were also transferred to police lines.

Yeddyurappa faces police probe over land deal

A Bangalore court Thursday ordered a police probe into a private complaint against Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa over a land deal. The investigation is to be completed by May 4.

The probe will be conducted by the police attached to the state Lokayukta (ombudsman), Additional City Civil and Sessions Judge C.B. Hipparagi ordered.

He is hearing five private complaints of corruption and illegal land deals against Yeddyurappa.

The complaints were filed by two advocates after Governor H.R. Bhardwaj granted them permission to prosecute the Bharatiya Janata Party’s first chief minister in south India over corruption and illegal land deal charges.

Senior telecom official to probe divestment of VSNL

S.R. Rao, additional secretary in the Department of Telecom (DoT), has been named to head the probe on matters relating to the divestment of state-run Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) in favour of the Tatas.

The probe, according to officials, will deal with two aspects: The delay in separating the surplus land held by the former state-run company following divestment in 2001 and if the Tatas secured any undue favour in landing the deal.

The probe report on what was the erstwhile international telecommunications arm of the government has been asked by March 31.

The government had earlier invited consultants to advise on the valuation of some 775 acres of surplus land in New Delhi, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai that was earlier with the state-run enterprise, prior to holding an auction to sell it, officials said.

The Tatas have already welcomed the probe.

‘Tata Communications welcomes any government process that will hopefully expedite the demerger of surplus land, which we have repeatedly requested in the best interests of the company and its shareholders,’ said the group.

‘We categorically deny that Tata Communications or the Tata group has benefited or seeks to derive benefit from the surplus land,’ the group said in a statement.

‘Consider special team to probe black money abroad’

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the government to consider the option of setting up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the black money stashed away by Indian citizens in foreign banks.

An apex court bench of Justice B. Sudershan Reddy and Justice S.S. Nijjar asked Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniun to get back with the government’s response by March 28.

The court also asked the solicitor general for the names of the officers who could be included in the SIT.

However, the court made it clear that its suggestion of setting up the SIT was only in the realm of options.

Meanwhile, the court said that Hasan Ali Khan, said to be the country’s biggest tax evader, who has been remanded to four days’ custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), will be sent to judicial custody on the expiry of this period.

It said this after counsel U.U. Lalit sought a clarification on the court’s order Thursday cancelling the bail granted to Khan by a Mumbai court and remanding him to the ED’s custody for four days.

It also preponed to March 28 a hearing on Khan’s petition originally listed for April 4.

The court’s observations came during the hearing of a petition by eminent jurist Ram Jethmalani seeking directions to the central government to take steps to bring back black money stashed away by Indian citizens in foreign banks in tax havens.

Police told to probe child trafficking gangs

The Delhi High Court Wednesday took a serious view of police failure to trace missing children and directed Delhi Police chief to constitute a task force to find out if gangs were involved in child trafficking.

The division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna pulled up police while referring to a report filed by the Delhi Legal Services Authority stating that over 500 children missing since the past one year have not been rescued.