DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE SATURDAY, JANUARY 12, 2019, AHMEDABAD, LATE CITY, 22 PAGES THE EDITORIAL PAGE A SUPREME FARCE BY PRATAP BHANU MEHTA PAGE 8 Suspended Pandya, Rahul sent home to face probe DEVENDRA PANDEY MUMBAI, JANUARY 11 CRICKETERS HARDIK Pandya and K L Rahul will be sent back to India immediately to face a committee set up to probe their “inappropriate” comments on women on a television chat show. The quantum of punishment they will face, after being suspended for their remarks on the show Koffee with Karan, will be decided after they present their case to the panel. Earlier, Captain Virat Kohli said the Indian team does not stand by Pandya and Will miss Rahul for makODI series in Australia ing “inappropriate” comments on women but insisted that the controversy won’t affect the dressing room morale. “From the Indian cricket team point of view, any inappropriate comments that are made in that scenario are something that we definitely don’t support...and that has been communicated (to the two players),” he said at the prematch press conference before the ODI series opener against Australia. Diana Edulji, a member of the Supreme Court-appointed CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 `5.00 WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 JUSTICE (RETD) A K PATNAIK SUPERVISED CVC ENQUIRY AGAINST VERMA No evidence of corruption, decision of PM-led panel very hasty: SC’s monitor Asthana plea rejected, HC gives CBI ten weeks to probe ‘What the CVC says cannot be the final word... they (selection panel) should have applied their mind thoroughly’ SEEMA CHISHTI NEW DELHI, JANUARY 11 JUSTICE A K Patnaik, the retired Supreme Court judge who was asked by the apex court to supervise the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) enquiry that eventually led to the ouster of CBI Director Alok Verma, on Friday said there was “no evidence of corruption” against Verma, and “what the CVC says cannot be the final word”. He was critical of “the very, very hasty” decision of the Prime Minister-led selection committee to remove Verma from the CBI Director’s post over charges of corruption and dereliction ofduty Thursday, two days after he was reinstated by the Supreme Court. Of the three members of the selection panel, Prime Minister Modi and Justice A K Sikri were against Verma’s continuance as the CBI chief in light of the CVC report and “the extremely serious nature of observations made by the CVC against Verma”. Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, did not go with the other two members, contested the CVC report and filed a dissent note. My role was to supervise, says Justice Patnaik PRITAM PAL SINGH NEW DELHI, JANUARY 11 CVC REPORT FINDINGS ARE NOT MINE, HE TOLD SC ■ Justice Patnaik submitted his report to the Supreme Court on November 10, 2018. ■ Made it clear that the CVC report findings are not his, that he merely supervised the process. ■ Statement purportedly signed by Rakesh Asthana on November 9, 2018 was not made in his presence, but forwarded by the CVC. Justice Patnaik told The Indian Express: “There was no evidence against Verma regarding corruption. The entire enquiry was held Alok Verma outside his official residence in New Delhi on Friday, a day after his ouster as CBI Director. Prem Nath Pandey REFUSING TO quash the FIR against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana and three others on charges of bribery and extortion, the Delhi High Court Friday directed the agency to complete its investigation in the case within 10 weeks in the “interest of justice”. The bench of Justice Najmi Waziri held that the allegations of “mala fides” raised against former CBI chief Alok Verma have not been made out and “nor can the allegations against Asthana be conclusively ruled out at this stage”. Justice Waziri also ruled that sanction to prosecute Asthana and CBI Deputy SP Devender Kumar in the case was not required. Asthana, Kumar and an alleged middleman Manoj Prasad had moved the HC, seeking the quashing of the FIR against them on October 15, 2018, on charges including extortion and forgery and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Verma refuses to join new posting, CBI reverses Verma orders, tells Govt to consider him retired negates action against IAS RAHUL TRIPATHI NEW DELHI, JANUARY 11 A DAY after he was removed as CBI Director by the Prime Minister-led selection committee, Alok Verma refused to take charge as Director General, Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards and told the government that he “may be deemed as superannuated” with immediate effect. He was to complete his fixed two-year tenure on January 31. A 1979-batch AGMUT cadre IPS officer, Verma, in a letter to Chandramouli C, Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, said the selection committee did not provide him an opportunity to explain details as recorded by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) before arriving at the decision to transfer him. “Natural justice was scuttled and the entire process was turned upside down in ensuring that the undersigned is removed from the post of the Director CBI. The selection committee did not consider the fact that the entire CVC report is premised on charges alluded by a complainant who is presently under investigation by the CBI,” Verma said, referring to his deputy, CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana who complained against him last year. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 officer in a coal scam case SUSHANT SINGH NEW DELHI, JANUARY 11 THE ORDER issued Friday by officiating CBI Director M Nageswara Rao to reverse all decisions taken after Tuesday has negated the file signed by then Director Alok Verma in a coal scam case, allegedly involving a senior IAS officer. The CBI order declared four office orders issued on Wednesday and Thursday, after Verma was reinstated by the Supreme Court as CBI Director, as non-est (does not exist). It said “consequently, all actions in pursuance thereof by all concerned are also declared hereby as null and void”. This nullified one of the files signed by Verma on Wednesday which could have led to the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Prime Minister Modi with L K Advani, Rajnath Singh at the BJP national convention in New Delhi, Friday. Neeraj Priyadarshi LS polls like Panipat battle, loss can lead to slavery: Shah to BJP LIZ MATHEW NEW DELHI, JANUARY 11 DRAWING PARALLELS with the third Battle of Panipat, which the Marathas lost “leading to 200 years of slavery”, BJP chief Amit Shah warned his party Friday that the Lok Sabha elections will be a decisive contest. Inaugurating the BJP national convention in New Delhi, where party leaders down to the district level will be given clarity on the party’s campaign in the run- up to the polls, Shah listed all the major steps taken by the Modiled government. But it was his reiteration of building the Ram temple at Ayodhya that drew the loudest applause from an estimated 12000-strong crowd of party leaders from across the country. “The BJP wants the Ram Mandir at the very spot. We are duty-bound to build the temple and still are. It is the Congress that is creating hurdles in the process. But we are trying to CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Got the maths right, found glue: Akhilesh on eve of BSP tie-up MAULSHREE SETH BUSINESS AS USUAL LUCKNOW, JANUARY 11 BY UNNY ON THE eve of a formal announcement of an alliance with Mayawati’s BSP for the Lok Sabha elections, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav Friday said he has not only learnt the “ginti” (maths) which led to the defeat of BJP in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls but has also found the missing “glue” which he was “hesitant” to use earlier. Responding to questions from a village in Kannauj on #Akhileshkichaupal, a Twitter India initiative, Akhilesh said while there is a perception that the BJP is still strong, it is a fact that it draws its strength from its CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 2010 report Govt cited Protesting citizenship Bill, three HS Bedi probe report finds three Gujarat to push 10% never walk out of govt panel on Assam encounters fake, says prosecute guilty cops spoke of EWS quota ABHISHEK SAHA GUWAHATI, JANUARY 11 SHALINI NAIR NEW DELHI, JANUARY 11 THE SINHO Commission report of 2010, which the Centre has been citing as the basis for its legislation to grant 10 per cent reservation to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) mainly among upper castes, never explicitly recommended reservation for EWS but was only emphatic about ensuring that the EWS get access to all welfare schemes. The report noted that economic criteria cannot be the indicator for identifying backward classes for reservation and that EWS can be identified by states “for extending welfare measures only”. GUJARAT Rajya Sabha passed The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019 for granting 10 per cent EWS reservation on Wednesday, a day after it was passed by Lok Sabha. The three-member commission, headed by Major Gen (retd) S R Sinho, was instituted by the UPA government and had submitted its report in July 2010. In the chapter reviewing the history of attempts to extend reservation to EWS, the report stated: “The Commission gathers the Constitutional and legal understanding that ‘Backward Classes’ cannot be identified for providing reservation in employment and admission in educational institutions on the basis CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Resignations part of trend OPPOSITION TO the Citizenship Bill is growing in the North East, and the resignations are the latest manifestation. Political opposition from its own allies in four N-E states is slowly snowballing into a public movement, a phenomenon the BJP is observing, but not heeding to. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 SATISH JHA AHMEDABAD, JANUARY 11 IN HIS report submitted to the state government, retired Supreme Court Judge Harjit Singh Bedi, looking into fake encounters in the state, has found three encounters by Gujarat Police — of Samir Khan Pathan, Haji Ismail, and Kasim Jafer — were fake. The report suggests prosecution of the accused policemen for murder. Among police personnel mentioned in the report are retired officials Tarun Barot and K M Vaghela, both facing trial in the Sadiq Jamal Mehtar encounter case. Barot is also a key accused in Ishrat Jahan encounter. The encounter of Samir Pathan, in October 2002, was the first after the post-Godhra riots. The police had said that Pathan had plotted to kill then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi to avenge killing of Muslims in the riots. The Detection of Crime Branch (DCB), whose officers were responsible for the encounter, was then headed by now-retired IPS D G Vanzara (accused in Ishrat’s encounter). The DCB had stated that Pathan was a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist. Vanzara’s senior in DCB was former Gujarat DGP P P Pandey, who was discharged in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case last year. In the “fake encounter” of Haji Ismail, a smuggler who came from Jamsalaya in Jamnagar, Justice Bedi has recommended criminal case against police officers K G Erda, J M Yadav, S K Shah, Parag Vyas, LB Monpara. Erda was accused in the Gulberg Society massacre case of 2002 and was later acquitted. In the encounter of Kasim Jafer in 2006, the police had re- ported death due to road accident. Justice Bedi’s report found Deputy SP J M Bharwad and Constable Ganeshbhai responsible for Jafer’s death. The report notes that the duo should be prosecuted for murder. When he was killed, Samir Pathan had already been arrested for being allegedly associated with Jaish. The police had said he had undergone terror training in Pakistan. DCB officials handed him over to K M Vaghela of Naranpura police in connection with a constable’s murder. A team led by Vaghela, Tarun Barot, J G Parmar (accused in Sadiq Jamal and Ishrat counter cases), among others, took Pathan to the scene of offence where he had allegedly killed the constable. At the site, the police had alleged, Pathan snatched Vaghela’s revolver and opened fire in a bid to escape. Barot and CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Why multiple agencies are after little known co-op society in Ahmednagar PAGE 1 ANCHOR HEADS OF FIVE COUNTRIES TO ATTEND VIBRANT SUMMIT, PM TO HOLD ONE-TO-ONE MEETINGS AMC SEES FULL SUBSCRIPTION OF Rs 200-CRORE BONDS WITHIN TWO MINUTES OF BID OPENING PAGES 3 & 5 THE government-appointed high-level committee for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord suffered a setback after at least three chosen individuals walked out of it, days after the powerful All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) said it would not send a representative. Nagen Saikia and Rongbong Terang, both former presidents of Assam Sahitya Sabha, and educationist Mukunda Rajbangshi told The Indian Express Friday that they have decided to stay out of the committee. The high-level committee was notified by the MHA on January 5 to work towards implementation of Clause 6, and pitched as a step towards protecting the interests of the Assamese community in terms of reservation of Assembly seats, protection of Assamese and other indigenous languages, and job reservations. Clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Accord says, “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.” The notification of the ninemember committee, however, came days before the BJP-led central government passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Lok Sabha, leading to a series of protests and demonstrations across Assam. The Bill is seen as a violation of the Assam Accord by large sections of the Assamese society. When contacted, Saikia said, KHUSHBOO NARAYAN MUMBAI, JANUARY 11 A MULTI-STATE cooperative society in Maharashtra has come under the scanner of multiple investigating and supervisory agencies such as the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare after a year-long probe by the Income Tax department that began in May 2017 alleged large-scale “hawala and money laundering activities” in the accounts held with the cooperative society. Ahmednagar-headquartered Renukamata Multistate Co-op Urban Credit Society Ltd, according to the tax agency, has routed suspicious transactions of over Rs 11,000 crore in the last five years through banks, sources told The Indian Express. The society, according to its website, recorded a turnover of Rs 259.57 crore for the year ending March 31, 2018. It was set up in 2004 and has 47 branches across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Karnataka. It comes under the regulatory purview of the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act. Several phone calls and emails to Prashant Bhalerao, Chairman, Renukamata Multistate Co-op Urban Credit Society, did not elicit a response. On Friday, signalling the unravelling of the society’s functioning over the last several years, the Enforcement Directorate arrested a former Renukamata employee following cues provided by the tax department. It arrested Machhindra Khade, a former branch manager of Renukamata in Nagpur, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), for allegedly routing about Rs 200 crore illegally through the account holders of the society to shell companies. These shell companies were involved in a Rs 2,000-crore import fraud allegedly perpetrated by Yogeshwar Diamonds Pvt Ltd. Sources said that Renukamata has violated the norms under the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act. Based on the comprehensive findings of the I-T probe, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare had last year ordered a forensic audit of Renukamata Multistate Co-op Urban Credit Society Ltd. The audit is likely to look into the transactions carried out by Renukamata in the last ten years, said sources. The tax agency has alleged that in a single financial year, Renukamata has made real time gross settlement (RTGS) payments of about Rs 418 crore from its bank account to six shell companies that had “no real business”. These firms include Seabird Enterprises, Iconic Enterprises, Azure Enterprises and Fine Touch Impex. None of these companies have ever filed income tax returns and they also do not exist at their registered address, according to the I-T investigation. The tax agency has also claimed that in financial year 2015-16, at least 14 closed bank accounts in a domestic bank have received Rs 175 crore from a few members of Renukamata. Interestingly, the alleged shell firms — Seabird Enterprises, Iconic Enterprises, Azure Enterprises and Fine Touch Impex — are also being probed by the CBI for allegedly using six banks to illegally transfer Rs 2,252 crore abroad between August 2015 and February 2016 through fraudulent imports. The CBI has alleged that these firms forged bills of entry of imports to Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank, State Bank of Hyderabad, Corporation Bank, Central Bank of India and Axis Bank and remitted money abroad. The tax investigation on Renukamata detailing the modus operandi alleges that cash deposits were made in the same or different branches of the society in a particular account. The society then aggregated all the deposits and allegedly put them in its own bank account as “funds received from customers”. This money was then almost immediately withdrawn by the account holders by submitting withdrawal slips to the society or through RTGS payments by the society to “dummy/shell companies” which effectively gave “them the appearance of being routed through the banking channels,” said the I-T report. The tax probe has found that within a span of one and a half months Renukamata allegedly routed cash deposits of Rs 277 crore in fiscal 2016 through two accounts belonging to members CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
Indian Express Limited is an Indian news media publishing company. It publishes several widely circulated dailies, including The Indian Express and The Financial Express in English, the Loksatta in Marathi and the Jansatta in Hindi.