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Raja gave unfair advantage to Swan Telecom: CBI

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: A. Raja manipulated 2G spectrum allocation policy in favor of Swan Telecom, CBI told a special court on Monday.

Raja, a member of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), was the head of Telecommunications and IT Ministry of India when the scam happened. He was the primary accused in the scam.

Special public prosecutor Anand Grover told Special Judge O.P. Saini that in an arbitrary decision, the then telecom minister A. Raja gave unfair advantage to Swan Telecom.

Advancing the final argument in the case, Grover said the cut-off date for receiving applications was changed from October 10, 2007 to October 1, 2007, and the decision was taken by Raja to favor some firms.

Swan telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, one of the accused in the 2G scam, had prior knowledge of the design of the spectrum allocation process and had kept the demand drafts and other documents ready before hand, the Central Bureau of Investigation said.

The court was hearing the final arguments in the case which will continue on Thursday.

The case pertains to the 2G spectrum allocation in which Raja, DMK Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi and others are facing trial.
According to the CBI, Raja was biased in allocating 2G mobile airwaves and operating licences to telecom firms, causing huge loss to the state exchequer.

The scam is believed to have cost Indian government a loss of 1766.45 billion.

The court framed charges on October 22, 2011, against 14 accused and three companies under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

All the accused, including Raja, are out on bail.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Setback for Kanimozhi, SC allows 2G accused to move Delhi High Court

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New Delhi:In a setback to DMK leader Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed her plea for quashing of charges against her in an alleged bribe-turned-corporate loan case but allowed them to move the Delhi High Court against the 2G court’s final order.

Besides Kanimozhi, a bench of Chief Justice H.L.Dattu, Justice A.K.Sikri and Justice Rohi nton Fali Nariman also rejected similar plea by Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa.

However, the court, by modifying its earlier order, allowed Kanimozhi, Balwa and other similarly placed accused in 2G cases to approach the Delhi High Court to appeal against the final order of the special court holding the trial of 2G scam-related cases.

It also made it clear that the high court will not entertain any appeal against any interim order passed by the 2G sp ecial court. The court order rejecting Kanimozhi and Balwa’s plea came as it noted that the trial was almost over, saying Special Public Prosecutor Anand Grover has submitted that recording of evidence is over and final arguments are nearing completion.

“At this belated stage, we are not going to entertain the petitions. It would not be proper to deal with them.”

Allowing Kanimozhi, Balwa and others to approach the Delhi High Court against any adverse order by the special court holding trial of 2G cases, the court has modified its February 14, 2011 and April 10, 2011 orders saying that any appeal against the trial court’s order could only be made before the apex court, thereby barring the high court from entertaining any such matter.

In the course of the hearing, senior counsel Amarendra Sharan told the court that there was not even an iota of evidence against his client and she was not even the director of the Kalaignar TV when the alleged transaction took place. But the court said: “All this has to be proved by the prosecution and if they are not able to prove, you are successful.”

Assailing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charge sheet, Sharan told the court that investigating agency said his client was the “active brain behind Kalaignar TV” and even if she was, it was no ground to proceed against her.

Dismissing the plea, Chief Justice Dattu said that the burden of proving the case was on the CBI and why should the accused be deprived of another opportunity to demonstrate her innocence.

The CBI had charge sheeted Kanimozhi alleging that Rs 200 crore “illegal gratification” was routed from Dynamix Realty to Kalaignar TV through Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd and Cineyug Films Pvt Ltd of Balwa.

(IANS)

 

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SC dismisses a plea by Kanimozhi to quash charges against her in 2G scam

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Photo: www.jehlumpost.com

New Delhi: In a setback to DMK leader Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed her plea for quashing of charges against her in an alleged bribe-turned-corporate loan case but allowed them to move the Delhi High Court against the 2G court’s final order.

Besides Kanimozhi, a bench of Chief Justice H.L.Dattu, Justice A.K.Sikri and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman also rejected a similar plea by Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa.

However, the court, by modifying its earlier order, allowed Kanimozhi, Balwa, and other similarly placed accused in 2G cases to approach the Delhi High Court to appeal against the final order of the special court holding the trial of 2G scam-related cases.

It also made it clear that the high court will not entertain any appeal against any interim order passed by the 2G special court. The court order rejecting Kanimozhi and Balwa’s plea came as it noted that the trial was almost over, saying Special Public Prosecutor Anand Grover has submitted that recording of evidence is over and final arguments are nearing completion.

“At this belated stage, we are not going to entertain the petitions. It would not be proper to deal with them.”

Allowing Kanimozhi, Balwa, and others to approach the Delhi High Court against any adverse order by the special court holding trial of 2G cases, the court has modified its February 14, 2011 and April 10, 2011 orders saying that any appeal against the trial court’s order could only be made before the apex court, thereby barring the high court from entertaining any such matter.

In the course of the hearing, senior counsel Amarendra Sharan told the court that there was not even an iota of evidence against his client and she was not even the director of the Kalaignar TV when the alleged transaction took place. But the court said: “All this has to be proved by the prosecution and if they are not able to prove, you are successful.”

Assailing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charge sheet, Sharan told the court that the investigating agency said his client was the “active brain behind Kalaignar TV” and even if she was, it was no ground to proceed against her.

Dismissing the plea, Chief Justice Dattu said that the burden of proving the case was on the CBI and why should the accused be deprived of another opportunity to demonstrate her innocence.

The CBI had charge sheeted Kanimozhi alleging that Rs 200 crore “illegal gratification” was routed from Dynamix Realty to Kalaignar TV through Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd and Cineyug Films Pvt Ltd of Balwa.

(IANS)

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Has PM Modi’s initiative to stall corruption made the grade in 365 days?

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By K.R. Sudhaman

The Narendra Modi Government has completed one year in office on May 26 this year and during this period, there have been enough moves by the NDA Government to remove corruption from the administration. One of the 2014 Lok Sabha election promises was to root out corruption and bring back black money stashed abroad. Modi Government, in one year, certainly has not ended these two major evils that have been afflicting Indian economy right from independence, but the measures taken so far, have given enough confidence to the people that the new Government is serious in rooting out corruption from the administration.

There are no short-cuts. But even skeptics cannot deny the fact that there are no 2G, Commonwealth games or coal scams during the last one year and it goes to Modi’s credit that his image is not tarnished unlike his predecessor Manmohan Singh, who despite being honest, seems to have done very little to stop mega scams running into lakhs of crores of rupees right under his nose.

No one can dispute the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has begun in right earnest to make the system transparent as we have seen in recent coal auction or the 2G spectrum auction which together fetched a little over Rs 3 lakh crore to the exchequer, which would also be shared with states where the coal mines are located. Modi may not have fulfilled his promise to put Rs 15 lakh in every bank account holder by bringing back trillions of ill-gotten money stashed abroad, but he has certainly made some beginning to ensure Swiss authorities cooperation to get into the bottom of some of the black money stashed abroad.

Corruption is deep-rooted in the country and various studies show that at least $8 billion, inflation indexed, is siphoned off every year and one estimate suggests that over $620 billion has been siphoned off since independence due to ambiguity and loopholes in policies, which is a major breeding ground. Transparency International has estimated that the black money stashed abroad by Indians could be as high as $1.4 trillion including the ill gotten money secured in major scams, which surface periodically like Bofors, Jaguar and other defence deals besides mega scams like coal and 2G.

The money that is siphoned off in scams is no doubt large but the money made in petty corruption is not smaller though they are not stashed abroad. The money made through corruption starting from driving license, MNREGS, PDS system, subsidies, public procurement, bribing lower staff to push files, paying money to taxmen for getting their returns scrutinized and securing genuine refunds, real estate registration, bribing the cops for traffic and other violations and so on, hit hard the common man most and stunts economic development. The parallel economy, which could be as much as 50 per cent of GDP contributes greatly to inflation, delay in decision making and at times stalls development activities because some vested groups are not able to make money.

Business guru C.K. Prahalad had estimated that India lost at least $50 billion worth of investments annually because of corruption. This is because corruption made investors change their mind in investing in the country. It is well established that lower the corruption like in Singapore, higher and faster is the economic development.

India is not the only country which has high rate of corruption, the problem is there in other emerging economies as well, but the type of corruption that exists in India afflicts day to day activities more and perhaps drastically slows down bureaucratic decisions leading to huge time and cost overruns in projects.

Corruption might not be the only factor but certainly a contributory factor for the huge number of projects stalled in the country. At one point of time during UPA-ll, as much as Rs 18 lakh crore worth of projects were stalled. Lately, Modi government has ensured that these stalled projects start moving, as some of them were held up because of corruption.

According to Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal, the transparent coal e-auction, which has potential for Rs 3.35 lakh crore revenue going to coal bearing states, especially in eastern India, will help greatly in reducing corruption.

Modi has already decided to crackdown on corruption and his office has directed all central departments on time-bound action within 60 days to enforce rule of law. Ministers have been asked to sanction prosecution or order disciplinary action within 60 days against officials found to have indulged in corruption or misconduct respectively, after vigilance inquiry.

In sectors and services where public interface is high or which impact the daily affairs of the masses, the direction is that there should be zero-overhand of license or other application beyond a prescribed time period. These instructions are fine. But the question is how far these would be implemented by the concerned agencies in right earnest.

The new Government has to be really strict to enforce its instructions. One of the reasons for policy paralysis during the second half of UPA regime was because government officials did not want to take any decision for the fear of being accused or prosecuted at a later date. So they used to keep on pushing files after seeking some clarifications. This ensured that they are not accused of not working but at the same time ensured no decision was taken.

The PMO has also instructed officials to identify and crack down on areas where middlemen were suspected to be operating. In an open letter to the nation to mark the completion of one year in office on May 26, Modi said his government has acted to tackle “unabated corruption”. Uncompromising adherence to the principle of purity, in action as well as intent only ensures corruption-free society.

More time is needed to judge whether these have helped in reducing corruption. One area where government should concentrate is bringing about systemic changes and automation, which would help in minimizing corruption if not eliminate it. For example computerization and automation of railway ticketing has virtually eliminated touts and reduced corruption to a large extent. But there are several other areas in railways where corruption is rampant like contracts, catering, procurement, scrap disposal and so on, which are not yet fully transparent.

Smart cards in metros have virtually eliminated ticket-less travel. Likewise digitalization, a pet subject of Modi, will minimize corruption in movement of files, tenders and so on as it would introduce transparency.

The root cause of corruption in this country is that too many people are chasing too few things, so without progress and honesty among politicians and business cutting across all parties, corruption will remain. Complicated laws too, add to the problem as they lead to discretionary powers with politicians and bureaucracy, a breeding ground for corruption.

Government should also attempt cleaning up of laws including that of taxes, make government procurement transparent and impart moral education to all so that in the long term, India becomes somewhat like Singapore as far as corruption is concerned and day to day life becomes easier. Modi Government has started the process with a great zeal, but it has to be sustained for getting long term benefits.