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In suicide note, Arunachal CM Kalikho Pul alleges graft by SC judges, Congress

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Kalikho Pul

New Delhi, Feb 17 : Late Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul had named some sitting as well as former Supreme Court judges and senior Congress politicians in a 60-page suicide letter he left behind at the time of his death last August. His wife has demanded a CBI probe into the corruption charges levelled by Pul.

“We want a central investigation agency — the CBI or the National Investigation Agency — to investigate the case. Every politician and judge named in the letter should be brought into limelight and action taken against them for demanding bribe,” his wife Dangwimsai Pul told the media here.

The suicide note written by Kalikho Pul in Hindi mentions the names of several Congress politicians both at the Centre and in Arunachal Pradesh along with Supreme Court judges, including ex-Chief Justices of India H.L Dattu and Altamas Kabir, for demanding bribe.

Dangwimsai — the first wife of Pul — has demanded a new FIR in the case as the state government did not probe the death of Pul “properly”, despite an FIR by the family.

She alleged the current state government threatened her against demanding a CBI probe.

On being asked who was threatening them, Dangwimsai told IANS: “I can’t take the names, but certainly they are people close to the ministers in the current Arunachal government.”

In his 60-page suicide note, a copy of which is with IANS, Pul said H.L. Dattu was allegedly paid Rs 28 crore in 2012 to stay an order against the former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, despite the Gauhati High Court ordering a CBI inquiry against Tuki after finding him guilty.

Similarly, another ex CJI Altamas Kabir had given a decision in favour of Arunachal contractors regarding a Public Distribution System (PDS) scam. The Central government and Food Corporation of India termed the decision wrong, he alleged in the letter.

Pul also alleges that on the directions of former Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, he in 2009 had given Rs 6 crore to President Pranab Mukherjee, then Union Finance Minister. Mukherjee was paid the money after he cleared an advance loan of Rs 200 crore to Arunachal Pradesh.

“In 2008, I, on the directions of Dorjee Khandu, was compelled to give Rs 37 crore to Congress Treasurer Moti Lal Vora,” said the suicide note.

The suicide note which brings to light several irregularities and scams in Arunachal Pradesh also mentions that Pul was contacted by some (unidentified) people, demanding Rs 86 crore to give a SC ruling in his favour, an offer which Pul said he denied.

Pul had become Chief Minister on February 19, 2016, after he along with 29 (19 Congress and 11 BJP) MLAs defected to the People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh (PPA) — a state outfit — to form a new government, bringing down the existing Congress government led by Chief Minister Tuki.

However, the Supreme Court reinstated the Tuki government on July 13, following which Pul and his supporters returned to the Congress and supported Pema Khandu as the Chief Minister.

According to the letter, Pul was contacted till 9 p.m on July 12, 2016, demanding an advance of Rs 9 crore to delay the hearing for one month. Pul was unseated from the chief ministership on July 13.

The 47-year-old leader was found hanging from a ceiling fan on August 9 in the official residence of the Chief Minister. He had yet to vacate the bungalow.

The Arunachal Police had found a 60-page letter written by Pul near his body, titled ‘Mere Vichar’ (My Views).

The letter also accuses two sitting judges of the Supreme Court of corruption.

“Virender Khehar (relative of a serving judge), had asked for Rs 49 crore from me. In another case Aditya Mishra (relative of another serving judge) had asked Rs 37 crore from me,” said the letter.

Mentioning extreme manipulations through money in the Supreme Court while giving important verdicts, Pul said he was contacted till July 25, 2016 — more than a week after the July 13 verdict — by the kin of a serving Supreme Court juge with an offer to change the decision of the Supreme Court in his favour for Rs 31 crore.

The suicide letter — which appears to be written over a period of a month and with his signature on each page — clearly expresses the frustration and helplessness of Pul towards the government and judiciary.

In the letter, Pul has accused Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu and ex-CM Nabam Tuki as being among the few people responsible for bringing the state into financial ruin.

The suicide note states that the entire expenses of Rs 90 crore for the case — to unseat him — in the Supreme Court was borne by former and current Chief Minister Nabam Tuki and Pema Khandu.

The letter also names Congress leaders Kapil Sibal, Kamal Nath, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Salman Khurshid and V. Narayanasamy as demanding money to resolve problems among the Congress legislators in Arunachal Pradesh.

Analysis

Law catching up with Akhilesh-Mayawati as they ready for alliance

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mayawati-akhilesh

Even as Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj party (BSP) supremo Mayawati — sworn enemies till not long ago — are making all efforts to stitch up a united force in Uttar Pradesh against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the 2019 general elections, the law seems to be catching up with both of them.

While the BSP supremo is on sticky ground with a recent directive of the Allahabad High Court not to spare anyone involved in a Rs 1,400 crore scam in memorials constructed under her watch, even as it sought a progress report from the Uttar Pradesh government’s Vigilance Department that is probing the matter, the SP chief is in choppy waters over a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report which indicts his previous government in a Rs 97,000 crore scam.

According to a CAG audit, the mandatory utilisation certificates of works done between 2014 and 2017, involving Rs 97,000 crore, are missing. This amount was spent on 2.5 lakh works and projects, an official privy to the matter told IANS. Most matters pertain to the social welfare, panchayati raj and education departments in which more than Rs 26,000 crore was spent, but there is no certification of the works done.

Sources in the know of the full report say that, in most matters, the CAG suspects large-scale swindling and graft. What is surprising is the fact that while utilisation certificates were not given by many departments, subsequent installments were released. More than 2.55 lakh utilisation certificates are pending, casting serious doubt on governance under the watch of then Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

On the other hand, four-time Chief Minister Mayawati also faces some fresh legal trouble. The Allahabad High Court this week sought a progress report from the government in the multi-crore monument scandal, which involved financial irregularities in the plethora of monuments and memorial parks built when Mayawati was in office from 2007 to 2012.

A bench of Chief Justice D.B. Bhonsle and Justice Yashwant Verma has given the state government one week to present before it the progress report in the matter in which the Lokayukta had inferred large-scale financial irregularities and corruption. The court gave these directions while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Shashikant Pandey of Mirzapur, who has cited Lokayukta N.K. Mehrotra’s 88-page report on the matter.

This could trigger big-ticket trouble for the BSP supremo as there are a lot of financial irregularities under the scanner in the construction of Ambdekar Smarak Parivartan Sthal, Manyavar Kanshiram Smarak Sthal, Eco Park, Gautambuddha Upwan, Ramabai Ambedkar grounds and Smirit Upwan in the state capital Lucknow and the Ambedkar park built in Noida, adjoining New Delhi.

Other than the evidence submitted to the Lokayukta what could trouble Mayawati in this particular matter is that two others accused — her confidantes and former Uttar Pradesh ministers Babu Singh Kushwaha and Naseemuddin Siddiqui — are now ranged against her. Siddiqui is in the Congress and Kushwaha has floated her own party. Any word from them about the complicity of “Behen-ji”, as Mayawati is referred to by her supporters, in the matter could immensely impact the political future of the 62-year-old.

A dozen legislators, more than 100 engineers and government employees, officers of the Noida Authority, Rajkiya Nirman Nigam and the Public Works Department (PWD) were made accused in the scam. Mayawati had taken personal interest in construction of these monuments, named after Dalit icons and Rs 4,500 crore was earmarked for the projects in the state budget. After the report of the Lokayukta was submitted, the then SP government led by Akhilesh Yadav had lodged an FIR in the matter in 2014.

It was alleged that the pink stone used in these monuments was supplied from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh though in the books it was shown as having been purchased from Rajasthan and cartage charges were falsely billed. Crores of rupees allegedly went into the pockets of politicians and engineers in this. The Lokayukta, in his report, had also pointed out that while the labour and machines used for cutting stones were all from Lucknow, the payments made were 10 times what they should have been.

The state Vigilance Department is investigatng the matter. Soon after Akhilesh Yadav stormed to power, he had vowed to bring Mayawati to book but after some time the matter went into cold storage. Today, the two bitter rivals are talking of an electoral alliance in 2019. The BJP government too in the past one-and-a-half years has done precious little in the matter.

The BJP, rattled by the coming together of the two political rivals, which led to successive defeats in parliamentary and assembly by polls, will be more than willing to play this up, say political observers. First, because the processes have been started or raised by constitutional authorities — CAG, Lokayukta and the Judiciary — and hence it cannot be accused of political vendetta; and, secondly, because this will bring to the fore once again the “unholy nexus of the Bua-Bhatija to save their skins and sins”, a BJP functionary chuckled.

What and how much of an impact these issues will have on the 2019 elections is a matter of conjecture, but certainly the two issues have the potential to mar the initial attempts by the SP-BSP to emerge as alternative to the ruling BJP.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])

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Politics

Government’s Aadhaar Act was ‘Sarkari Adhikar Act’, says Kapil Sibal

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New Delhi, Sep 26: Welcoming the Supreme Court verdict on Aadhaar, Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Wednesday said that the decision to strike down the Modi governments “surveillance tool” will put an end to the government’s “abuse of power”.

Speaking on the privacy breach due to the involvement of private companies in Aadhaar scheme, he stated by striking down Section 57 of Aadhaar Act, Supreme Court put an end to mass surveillance exercise being carried out under the guise of Aadhaar by the Central Government and  the “grotesque distortion of an idea conceived by the UPA”.

“Had the government not been arrogant and allowed the democratic process to work, none of this would have happened. If they heard us back then, then crores of people’s biodata is now in private hands, could have been saved. This was not the Aadhaar Act this was ‘Sarkari Adhikar Act’, “.

“This is immeasurable harm done to the polity and democracy in the country”, he added.

He said Aadhaar can no longer be made mandatory for mobile phones and bank accounts.

The Congress leader added that an important part of the judgment was that if in future a Lok Sabha speaker declares a bill as Money Bill, then Court can review this and revert. We will approach a 7-judge bench to consider this verdict again as this is clearly not a Money Bill.

Sibal said while four judges of the Supreme Court upheld the classification of the Aadhaar Act as a money bill, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud dissented calling it a “debasement of the democratic structure” which renders the Act an “illegality”.

Justice Chandrachud has also observed that passage of bills in such a manner by the Centre is a way of undermining the role of parliament and parliamentarians, he said.

The former Union Ministere further stated that the Congress will not accept any attempt by the government to bring an amendment to the Act through the money bill route and would challenge it in court.

“However, the passage of the law violates both the fundamental right to privacy and is a gross abuse of the Money Bill route”.

The Supreme Court today upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar card with several conditions by 4:1 majority.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra ruled that Aadhaar will not be required for opening bank accounts, admissions in schools or for getting mobile phone connections.

While Justice Chandrachud said the Aadhaar Act cannot be treated as a money bill and passing it as one will be a fraud on the Constitution.

WeForNews 

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Election

Congress goes to Election Commission with E-tendering scam in MP

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VIVEK TANKHA

New Delhi, Sep 25 : The Congress on Tuesday alleged an e-tender scam worth Rs 30,000 crore in last four years in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh and approached the Election Commission raising concern that it could impact the assembly elections in the state.

In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat, Congress leader Vivek Tankha alleged the people involved in the e-tender scam are close to state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the ruling BJP.

In his letter to Rawat, Tankha said, “It is billed as the e-tender scam and involves large-scale manipulation of the online procurement platform of the Madhya Pradesh government to allegedly favour a select few private companies in connivance with officers.”

“E-tenders of the estimated value of more than Rs 30,000 crore had been manipulated during the last four years in the state,” it said.

“The officers who purportedly manipulated the tendering process are perceived to be very close to the ruling party and especially to the Chief Minister,” it said.

In his letter, the Congress leader said that the matter came to light after a damning report was submitted by the Principal Secretary, Manish Rastogi MD of the MP State Electronics Development Corporation exposing the rot on May 5 this year.

“Even Chief Secretary Basant Pratap Singh was shocked by the findings of the report,” it said, adding that he ordered the economic offences wing to file an FIR against the delinquents inter alia for criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, fabrication under the Indian Penal Code and for commission of cyber crimes including hacking and manipulation of electronic records under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

The Congress leader also alleged that instead of promptly acting on the directions of the Chief Secretary, the state government “slept over the said directions for one month”.

“No effort to register a case or to take action for recovery of digital equipment, including seizing of servers, computers, hard disks, laptops, pen drives etc. was either initiated or attempted, offering ample time to the delinquents to tamper with/destroy evidence,” it said.

The Congress said a preliminary enquiry was ordered only on June 21 by the EOW of the state police.

The Congress also raised the question as to why the Managing Director who blew the lid off the scam was transferred. “Why has there been no punitive action against the beneficiary companies despite an internal inquiry pointing out the names of bidders who emerged as the lowest bidder by compromising e-procurement infrastructure?” it asked.

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