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Tag: corruption

Pune: CBI arrests income tax officer for accepting bribe of Rs 1 lakh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested an Income Tax Officer from Pune for demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 1 lakh from the complainant.A case was registered under section 7 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 on a complaint against Income Tax Officer (ITO), Ward 2(2), Income Tax Office, Swargate, Pune.It was alleged that the ITO, demanded bribe of Rs 2 lakh from the complainant to pass favourable orders in connection with his tax liability.The CBI laid a trap and caught the ITO red handed while demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 1 lakh from the complainant.Searches have been conducted at the office and residential premises of the accused which led to recovery of incriminating documents relating to tax assessment of the complainant; cash of Rs. 5,04,030/-(approx); jewellery i.e 4 Gold biscuits weighing total 350 grams (approx); two flats in Pune and 4 acres land at Solapur, 9 Bank accounts and one bank locker (yet to be operated).The arrested accused is being produced on Friday before the Court of Special Judge, CBI Cases, Pune.

Demonetisation Day 50: Still too early to call it an ‘utter flop’ or ‘glorious success’

Maine sirf pachaas din maange hain… 30 December tak mujhe mauka dijiye…  Agar 30 December ke baad, koi meri kami rehjaye, koi meri galti nikal jaye, koi mera galat irada nikal jaye, aap jis chaurahe mein mujhe khada karenge, main khada hokarke desh jo saza karega, wo saza bhugatne ke liye taiyyar hoon (I have only asked for 50 days. Give me time till 30 December. After that, if any fault is found in my intentions or my actions, I am willing to suffer any punishment given by the country).

That’s what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Goa on 13 November five days after he demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. And three days before the 50-day period he sought was up, he delivered a judgement on himself when he said at an election rally in Dehradun on 27 December:

 “Through the note ban, in one stroke, we destroyed the world of terrorism, drug mafia, human trafficking and underworld...

 In an interview with India Today this week, he went a step further when he said:

 “Black money has all been forced out into the open, whomsoever it may belong to — whether it is corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen or professionals.”

Modi wants us to believe that he has delivered what he promised in the 50 days, and that his “safai abhiyan” (clean-up campaign) will go on.

I have no problem in confessing that I am not an economist. But I am aghast at the way some, like Modi himself, have concluded that this demonetisation is a huge, rip-roaring success that will rewrite the economics textbooks. On one hand, we have those who are singing paeans to Modi in praise of his “bold” war against black money. On the other hand, there are others who, at the very first sight of a long queue before an ATM, rubbished the whole thing as the stupidest thing any prime minister had ever undertaken on the planet since the invention of currency.

Most of those who resorted to the premature song-and-dance were obviously the so-called bhakts of Modi.

And most of those who wrote a political obituary for the prime minister hardly a day or two after 8 November were bhakts of another kind: Left-leaning or Congress-supporting Modi baiters. It is likely that, if Modi hadn’t gone for demonetisation, they might have questioned why he hadn’t, to make good on his poll promise of ferreting out black money. If, after demonetisation, the ATMs functioned smoothly with a copious flow of the new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes, they would have asked why there weren’t enough Rs 100 notes.

If Modi sneezed, they would ask why he wasn’t coughing. If Modi coughed, they would wonder why he wasn’t having hiccups. They are that sort of people. They must be disappointed that the ‘cash riots’ that they were hoping for, haven’t broken out on India’s streets.

On Friday, the two sides will once again deliver their predictable judgments, ignoring the fact that it is the last day for swapping old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes for the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 currency. With all its good and bad effects, the demonetisation churn will continue for some more time, and perhaps it will be several months or even a year before we can arrive at a considered judgment as to whether it did any good, and whether whatever good it did, was worth the terrible things that it has so far inflicted on the people and economy of India.

File iamge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

File iamge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

So far, we have seen only the bad effects of it. Dozens have died in queues, and millions have lost jobs. Lack of cash led to a sharp fall in spending, which in turn led to a crash in business in virtually every sector. Fathers couldn’t get daughters married the way they wanted. In some places, farmers dumped their produce on the roadside because it was not worth selling at the rock-bottom prices.

In other places, farmers had no money to buy seeds to grow fresh crops. Not a day passed after demonetisation without a moving tale of woe being reported from one part of the country or another. The picture of a former jawan weeping in a bank that went viral summed up best the agony India went through.

All these problems of demonetisation were a direct result of the woefully slow process of remonetisation. The humongous goof-up in ensuring availability of enough cash after the scrapping of 86 percent of the currency (in value) in a country where 87 percent of the transactions are said to be in cash, is all too clear. Enough has already been said about it by friends and foes of Modi, and those who are neither.

Questions that Modi must answer now

The question upfront now is: What is the country getting in return for all that misery that India was made to go through?

It’s now reasonably clear from official data that the cash windfall that the government had expected from demonetisation — black money that hasn’t been swapped or deposited in the banks which would drop into the government’s kitty — will hover around Rs one lakh crore.

Of the total of Rs 15.4 lakh of cash in the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that were demonetised, Rs five lakh crore was estimated to be black. So if only some Rs one lakh remains unclaimed, what happened to the rest of the Rs four lakh crore? How much of it has been burnt by its holders? How much of it has been turned into white by illegitimate means? How much of it has been seized in income tax raids? And how much has been declared under the voluntary disclosure schemes?

These are questions that are not difficult to answer. So Modi must answer them.

This is not to suggest that the absence of a huge cash “windfall” in terms of “extinguished money” means that the demonetisation is a total, miserable failure. Despite claims by Modi baiters, the effect of scrapping the high-value notes on counterfeiters, terrorists, Maoists and drug-traffickers cannot be underestimated, at least in the short term. But the questions that will take more time to answer are the ones related to the expansion of the tax net, additional resources that will be available to the government for job-creating schemes and the effect on  GDP — key aspects that will determine the ultimate success or failure of Modi’s adventure. It will be a while before we can judge these after-effects.

Although you can depend on the Union Budget that will be presented on 1 February to throw up some real and artificial clues, Modi must answer all the questions that he can right now — without delay, and without hysterics and histrionics.

The author tweets @sprasadindia

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 13:27 IST

Demonetisation not politically motivated, says PM Narendra Modi ahead of 50-day deadline

With just a day left for the 50-day deadline for demonetisation’s benefits to show, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed that the move has forced black money, whether belonging to corrupt politicians or bureaucrats, out in the open.

In an interview with India Today magazine, excerpts of which in text form were telecast by a group news channel, Modi said counterfeit Indian currency notes available with the enemies were instantly neutralised.

“Black money has been forced out into the open, whomsoever it may belong to, whether it is corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen or professionals,” said Modi on the outcome of his 8 November sudden move to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

“Counterfeit notes, which our intelligence agencies have reported to be available in big volumes with our enemies, have been instantly neutralised. Similarly, cash held by terrorists, Maoists and other extremists has also been neutralised. There has been a crippling impact on dangerous and highly damaging illegal activities such as human trafficking and the narcotics trade as well,” he added.

PM Narendra Modi. File photo. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. File photo. PTI

“One must be able to distinguish between neeti (policy) and rann neeti (strategy) and not put them in the same basket. The decision of demonetisation, which reflects our neeti, is unequivocally clear, unwavering and categorical,” the prime minister said.

“Our rann neeti, however, needed to be different, aptly summarised by the age-old saying of tu daal daal, main paat paat. We must stay two steps ahead of the enemy. When problems are identified, we respond promptly and take necessary steps,” he added.

Modi said it speaks of the government’s “agility in responding quickly and keeping up with the evolving situation”.

“I know many will prefer if we issue one guideline and then allow them to walk roughshod over it. Let me assure them that no such thing will happen,” Modi said.

The prime minister also clarified that the objective behind the decision was to clean up the economy and curb the menace of black money.

“Our objective was to clean up the economy and society of the menace of black money, purging the distrust, artificial pressures and other ills that came with it,” he said.

“The revenue collected will be used for the welfare of the poor, downtrodden and the marginalised.”

Modi also urged citizens not to regard digital transactions as a short-term substitute for cash payments.

“Digital transactions should not be viewed as a short-term substitute for cash payments,” Modi told India Today magazine in an interview.

“Digital transactions facilitate formal accounting and sizing of the economy,” he said.

“They also deliver greater tax compliance,” he added.

On former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Modi said, “Regarding Manmohan Singh ji, it is interesting that the words ‘monumental mismanagement’ came from a leader who has been at the helm of India’s economic journey for around 45 years.”

“His reference to organised loot was perhaps a reference to the unending string of scams under his leadership… From the coal scam, to 2G and CWG scam. Demonetisation on the other hand is an unprecedented step to confiscate the loot of the corrupt,” he said.

“I pity a few of our opponents, especially the Congress leadership, for the desperation they have been exhibiting. Congress leaders are entirely preoccupied with only one thing — elections. There is nothing political in the demonetisation,” Modi said.

The prime minister said: “It was a tough decision taken to clean our economy and our society. If I were guided by short-term electoral politics, I would have never done so.”

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 21:32 IST

Adarsh scam: Congress MP Ashok Chavan challenges nod granted to CBI to prosecute him

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress MP Ashok Chavan has approached the Bombay High Court challenging a decision of Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao granting sanction to CBI to prosecute him in the Adarsh housing society scam.In February this year, Governor Rao had granted sanction to the CBI to prosecute Chavan for offences under IPC sections 120 (b)(criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating and under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society case.The CBI had accused the former state Chief Minister of approving additional floor space index for Adarsh society in return for two flats for his relatives. He was also charged with illegally approving, as the then Revenue Minister, allotment of 40 per cent of the flats to civilians.Chavan, in his petition filed recently, challenged the sanction order and said it was “arbitrary, illegal and unjust” and passed without “proper application of mind” and with “malafide intentions”.The petition, which came up for hearing on December 22, was then adjourned. It will now come up for hearing before a division bench of the high court on January 23, 2017.Earlier, Chavan was forced to step down from the post of the Chief Minister in November 2010 after the allegations emerged against him.While the CBI named him as an accused in its FIR, in December 2013 the then Governor K Sankaranarayanan had refused permission to it to prosecute Chavan in the scam, leaving the central probe agency with no choice but to close the case against him.However, in March last year, the high court dismissed a plea made by Chavan, who is the sitting Lok Sabha MP from Nanded, seeking deletion of his name from the case, as the Governor had refused to grant sanction.Following this, the CBI re-approached the Governor seeking sanction, which was granted in February this year.

PM Modi should stop ‘ridiculing’ Rahul Gandhi, admit demonetization was a ‘mistake’: P Chidambaram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ridiculing Rahul Gandhi’s remarks, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said though he too could ridicule him, he will not do that and said Modi should rather answer the questions posed.”He (Rahul) says mock me but answer the questions of the people, the duty to respond to the question… lies with the Prime Minister… however he is ridiculing and acting (mocking Rahul),” Chidambaram said.Stating that he too knows how to mock and poke fun, the former finance minister said, “I can also talk like Prime Minister… and ridicule…, however, I will not do that because he is India’s Prime Minister.”Chidambaram said though Modi belonged to “another party” and “propagated several policies that we cannot accept, I respect him as he is India’s Prime Minister. I will not ridicule him or poke fun at him, I only ask questions, he should answer the questions.””Why are you (the Centre and Modi) punishing people like this (by demonetising) and what sin have they committed? Why are you harassing people and the farmers… what is the reason…I would like to ask,” he said.He said Rahul Gandhi is addressing people in several states, including Gujarat, on demonetisation and related issues.”The Prime Minister addresses meetings, Rahul Gandhi is also doing it and the media is giving equal importance to his speeches like they do for the PM and I welcome it. However that is not enough,” he said and described the claims of BJP government regarding demonetization as “falsehood.” Corruption is happening black money is being hoarded by using Rs 2,000 notes, he claimed and said party workers should apprise people on such “false claims.””I bow my head before the people for their patience,” Chidambaram said, adding people are perhaps waiting for the Prime Minister’s December 30 deadline for things to get normal.”No government or Prime Minister has the authority to inflict so much pain and harassment on the people. They did not vote for them (BJP) for this,” he said. Chidambaram said the Prime Minister should have accepted that he had taken a wrong decision. “He (Modi) is a big (magnanimous) man… had he said that I made a mistake, had Modi sought forgiveness, he would have been a big man,” the senior Congress leader said. He said Indira Gandhi had generously admitted that promulgation of Emergency in 1975 was a mistake as it had led to suffering of people (not in Tamil Nadu) and promised to never do it again till such time she was Prime Minister. “That is why she continues to live in the hearts of people as a towering leader though she passed away 32 years ago,” he said.”There is nothing wrong in accepting one’s mistake…there is nothing wrong in saying that I have done a mistake.” Chidambaram said if Modi had admitted he had taken a “wrong decision based on wrong advice” and he was not told of the quantum of currency that will be scrapped, it would have been generous.If Modi had said he was not apprised about the note printing capacity and how many months it would take to print such notes and on the duration of ATM recalibration, he would have been magnanimous, he said.Modi should have admitted that he had not taken into consideration the fact that people would be hit and daily wage earners would be affected, Chidambaram said.

DCW chief Swati Maliwal smells ‘conspiracy’ in ACB chargesheet against her

Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal smells a ‘deep conspiracy’ in the chargesheet filed against her by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Wednesday, alleging irregularities in recruitment in the commission.

This comes close on the heels of her proposed raid at the brothels on GB Road to locate girls trafficked in the red light area from across the country.

File image of DCW chief Swati Maliwal. PTI

File image of DCW chief Swati Maliwal. PTI

“On Thursday, we (DCW) will raid the brothels at GB Road to find out the trafficked girls and the culprits behind this trafficking. We have asked the municipal corporation of Delhi (MCD) to shut the hidden cells in the brothels. This chargesheet is a tool to intimidate us and prevent us from working,” Maliwal told Firstpost.

Maliwal is no stranger to such charges. Just three months ago (on 20 September), an FIR was filed by the ACB against her on the complaints made by her predecessor — former DCW chairperson Barkha Shukla Singh that Maliwal appointed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) volunteers in plum posts without following due procedure.

What the latest chargesheet is about

The latest chargesheet was filed before the special ACB judge at Tis Hazari Court against Maliwal for the alleged offences under section 13 (criminal misconduct by public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. A chargesheet has been filed in the court in connection with alleged irregularities in the appointment of 85 AAP workers in the DCW. The ACB has taken up the probe on a complaint by former DCW chief, whereby she had claimed that 85 people got jobs ‘without requisite credentials’.

Why Maliwal smells a conspiracy

“There is a deep rooted conspiracy behind this chargesheet. Earlier, the ACB filed an FIR against me on the basis of a false charge. Now, the ACB has chargesheeted me because the commission asked the Delhi lieutenant-governor Najeeb Jung why he didn’t conduct any meetings with us during the past year. It’s the first time that the Delhi High Court has given two notices to the L-G; so he’s using the ACB as a tool to intimidate and scare us,” claimed Maliwal.

Maliwal’s counter-allegations

– “Former DCW chief spent Rs 90 lakh in a single day, without showing any work against the spending. We gave a 128-page document of evidence to the ACB, but they didn’t even file our complaint, forget an FIR.”
– “Barkha Shukla Singh, who was then a Congress MLA, dealt with only one case in her eight-year tenure; whereas we have handled nearly 12,000 cases.”
– “Singh had obliged those whom the then chief minister Sheila Dikshit had referred.”
– “Despite six rapes committed in Delhi per day, the lieutenant-governor didn’t hold any meeting with the DCW.”
– “The lieutenant-governor appointed IAS officer Dilraj Kaur, secretary (Social Welfare and Women & Child Development) as DCW’s member secretary — this is unconstitutional, because there’s already an officiating member secretary functioning in the commission. Kaur has stopped the salary payments of 90 staffers for the past three months.”

Maliwal’s clarification

“We followed the same procedure in appointing new volunteers, as followed by our predecessor. Nothing wrong has been done. Against the allocated budget of Rs 9 crore, we’ve spent only Rs 3.5 crore; but three audits have been conducted on us to find out whether there had been any misappropriation.”

“I’ve worked with utmost honesty and if charges of corruption — even amounting to a single rupee — is proved against me, I’ll give up my life.”

What ACB chief says

“We’ve chargesheeted her because she made illegal appointments in the commission. They have favoured AAP workers,” ACB chief MK Meena reportedly told the media.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 08:14 IST

Graft charges against me were false: Pankaja Munde after ACB clean chit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Anti-Corruption Bureau giving her a clean chit in the ‘chikki’ purchase case, Maharashtra Minister Pankaja Munde said on Wednesday the allegations against her were part of a plan to defame her.”I had said many times that there was no substance in the allegations (of irregularities in chikki purchase). On several occasions in the Legislative Assembly also, I have replied to the charges,” Pankaja said. “Those who made the allegations saw a lot of irregularities in `chikki’ that wasn’t even distributed (among schoolchildren),” the Women and Child Welfare Minister said. “A supari (contract) was taken to defame me,” Pankaja said. The BJP Minister, however, did not disclose who was behind the move to malign her.”The ACB has given me a clean chit. I am absolved of the charges. I wasn’t involved in any wrongdoing,” Pankaja asserted. The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has closed the case against the Minister in the matter pertaining to alleged irregularities in awarding contracts for materials worth Rs 206 crore for school children. Pankaja was accused of flouting norms in awarding contracts for supplying items like ‘chikki’ (sweetmeat made with nuts and jaggery), mats, notebooks and water filters, among others, for schoolchildren.Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant had last year lodged a complaint with the ACB demanding an inquiry into the allegations against the Minister and submitted a set of documents purportedly supporting the charges.

Tamil Nadu: CBI arrests J Sekar Reddy in Rs 170 Crore cash seizure case, probes links with TN chief secy’s sons

New Delhi: CBI on Wednesday arrested businessman J Sekar Reddy and his associate K Srinivasulu after Income Tax searches at his residence and office in Chennai resulted in seizure of 127 kg of gold and over Rs 170 crore in cash post demonetisation.

CBI sources said his links with the son of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Nadu P Rama Mohana Rao are also under the scanner of I-T department as it is believed that Reddy, a contractor, allegedly received his help to get state-wide sand mining contract.

Representational image. IBNliveRepresentational image. IBNlive

Representational image. IBNlive

Rao’s premises are being searched by I-T department on Wednesday.

CBI has registered a case of criminal conspiracy and cheating under Indian Penal Code besides provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act against Reddy and his two associates for conversion of currency in violation of RBI norms, the sources said.

They said it was alleged that I-T department searches had resulted in seizure of over Rs 170 crore in cash which included newly-introduced notes of Rs 2,000 worth Rs 34 crore (seized in two different occasions) besides 127 kg gold from him and his associates Srinivasa Reddy and Prem Kumar.

CBI case is related to seizure of Rs 24 crore of new currency notes from a Tata Ace load vehicle belonging to a Vellore resident, Rishi Kumar, on 9 December following searches at Reddy’s residence in Chennai.

“Reddy and his associates had, with the help of unknown public servants of different banks, converted the unauthorised cash held by them in old currency notes, thereby depriving the public in enforcing their right,” CBI alleged in its FIR.

It said the bank officials, who are allegedly entrusted with the distribution of new currency notes as per instructions of Reserve Bank of India, defied the RBI instructions and helped Reddy for a “consideration”.

“Reddy, Prem Kumar and K Srinivasulu, had in conspiracy with unknown bank officials and public servants converted unaccounted cash held by them in the form of old currency notes to new Rs 2,000 currency notes, cheating the government of India,” it alleged.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 19:38 IST

Maharashtra: Pankaja Munde gets clean chit by ACB in ‘chikki’ case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a relief for Maharashtra Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde, the Anti-Corruption Bureau has give her a clean chit in the ‘chikki’ case pertaining to alleged irregularities in awarding contracts for materials worth Rs 206 crore for school children.”The ACB has closed the case. There was nothing to substantiate allegations against her,” an ACB official said today.He said ACB’s Additional CP Keshav Patil had, in a letter to MPCC spokesperson Sachin Sawant, informed the Congress leader that no “truth” was found in the allegations against Munde.Sawant had last year lodged a complaint with the ACB demanding an inquiry into the allegations against Munde and submitted a file of documents purportedly supporting the charges.The minister was accused of flouting procedures in awarding contracts for supplying items like ‘chikki’ (sweetmeat made with nuts and jaggery), mats, notebooks, water filters, etc, for school children.Munde had earlier rubbished the charges and said she was prepared for any inquiry.”This is a scam of words. The allegations against me are politically motivated,” Pankaja, the daughter of late Union minister Gopinath Munde, had said.The earlier Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra had purchased similar items at a cost of Rs 408 crore, she said.”You term that a ‘purchase’ and call our procurement a ‘scam’,” she had said.Claiming that the items were purchased at a higher price by the previous government, Munde said the charges against her were totally baseless.Munde had accused the opposition of pinning the scam on to a BJP minister, and said there was nothing wrong in the purchases made through the rate contract system.Sawant had said “Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has a habit of giving clean chits and he has said that prima facie, he did not find anything wrong. Thus, we submitted all the documents we had as evidence to the ACB,” Sawant had earlier said.

Former IAS officer Elvis Gomes to be AAP’s CM candidate for Goa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former IAS officer Elvis Gomes will be Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) chief ministerial candidate for Goa.Making a formal announcement, AAP’s national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal declared Gomes to be AAP’s CM candidate for Goa on Monday. The announcement came during Kejriwal’s rally in Cuncolim to celebrate Goa’s liberation day. Gomes, who was the Inspector General of Prisons had sought for voluntary retirement in July earlier this year and finally joined the AAP on October 1, claiming that the state government has meted out injustice to bureaucrats. Calling Gomes a gem, Kejriwal said that the senior officer was in the Goan administration for almost 20 years and has been one of the most honest officer in the state. “If he wanted to indulge in corruption, he could have easily earned several crores, but he didn’t. This is not something that I am saying, people of every religion and caste are saying this,” said Kejriwal. “He is the son of the soil. He resigned from his post to save Goa and I hope that those who want Gomes’s government in the state will vote for him and the AAP,” Kejriwal added. During the rally, Kejriwal also targeted Congress and BJP claiming that the two parties had turned the State into a ‘drug hub’ and the mandate during the Assembly elections will show the anguish of the people. Sources said that the move comes by the AAP in its bid appease the Christian and Muslim community which had come forward in support of the AAP. The official, who opted for voluntary retirement in July this year, was booked by Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) in a land scam. He, however, has refuted all the allegations.AAP has so far announced 25 candidates of the total 40 seats in Goa Assembly elections. The party had previously made it clear that it will contest elections on all seats. Elections in Goa are due early next year, with the announcement on election dates likely to be made in the last week of December by the Election Commission of India

AgustaWestland scam: Veterans in court to support Air Chief SP Tyagi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, one of the accused in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, maintained a cheerful persona even as his family broke down when he was remanded in judicial custody till December 30. Two others—cousin Sanjeev, aka Julie, and Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan—were also remanded in judicial custody a week after they were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).Tyagi, who tried to raise the morale of his supporters—retired Air Marshals, including a retired Chief of Army—was overheard joking with his former mates that he hoped to be sent to Tihar Jail and assigned the same cell that Rajya Sabha MP K Kanimozhi was in when she was arrested in connection with the 2G scam.Tyagi’s remand in judicial custody came a day after Italy’s highest court of appeal ordered a re-trial of Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, former CEOs of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland. The duo was convicted for bribing Indian government officials a 560 million Euro deal involving the sale of 12 helicopters.When Tyagi entered the tiny courtroom presided by Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar, all stood up. The crowd of about 30 that included family members, and former air marshals—almost all beyond the age of 70, stayed there right through the proceedings.Hours after the hearing concluded, the veterans stayed back till the accused were ferried to jail in a separate van—as requested by the defence councils. Words of encouragement flowed as they tried to speak to Tyagi through a mesh outside the lock-up facility in Patiala House Court. Steaming cups of tea could not keep out the chill that they felt at how the system was treating a member of their fraternity who had once held the highest post in the Indian Air Force.Former Air Marshal Denzel Keelor, one of the first to arrive, was furious. “Is this how an officer of his (SP Tyagi) stature should be treated,” Keelor fumed. “We are all demoralized and are present here because in the Air Force we all fight together,” he added.Keelor—a war hero who shot down a Sabre jet during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, and many others including retired Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak who were present in the courtroom today, were disturbed at the turn of events. Kak’s face crumpled when he realized his junior was being sent to jail after all. “I am viewing these turn of events with great despair and disappointment. SP Tyagi is not ordinary, the investigation must have had proof beyond question to take such a drastic step,” Kak said.Many veterans in the Air Force questioned the arrest and all seemed to agree that it appeared to be politically motivated. “We are easy pickings because we don’t say anything,” a retired Air Marshal was heard saying.”Anybody who knows the system and the procedure will know that Tyagi would have been unable to influence the tweaking of the operational requirements (a charge he has been accused of) a retired Air Marshal said on condition of anonymity.The former Indian Air Force chief—the first chief from any wing of the armed forces to be arrestedand the others who were allegedly involved in irregularities in the procurement of the VVIP helicopters from UK-based AgustaWestland were first arrested by the CBI on December 9, more than three years after registering the FIR.According to the March 2013 FIR, the CBI stated that in 2005 Tyagi abused his official position to change the consistent stand of the IAF on the service ceiling of VVIP choppers from 6000 mts to 4500 mts. The CBI stressed that without changing the operational requirements, AgustaWestland would have been unable to compete in the bid.All the accused, including the companies, were booked for criminal conspiracy, cheating and sections under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Two more RBI officials held in currency exchange fraud, arrests a big blow to regulator

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two more officials of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday for their alleged role in currency conversion fraud cases.The arrests, coming in less than a week’s time, have caused much discomfort for the central bank, which had maintained that the one arrested earlier was a junior-level functionary. The fresh arrests put into question the role of its officials involved in currency exchange process, initiated following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s note ban announcement on November 8.The two accused—identified as Sadananda Naika and AK Kavin—are posted as Senior Special Assistant and Special Assistant RBI’s cash department in Bengaluru. The first to be arrested, K Michael, was a Senior Special Assistant in the Issue Department of RBI’s regional office.Elaborating on the arrests, a CBI official said the accused fraudulently gave away new currency notes to unknown RBI officials and others in replacement of demonetized notes to the tune of Rs 1.99 crore, in violation of the currency exchange limits imposed by the RBI.”It is alleged that both the accused and other unknown officials of RBI, Bengaluru entered in criminal conspiracy with unknown others,” said the official. Among several sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code, the duo was slapped with charges of criminal conspiracy, fraud, criminal breach of trust and so on.The arrests come after the RBI, earlier this week, claimed that “elaborate instructions” had been given to bank managements to keep in check untoward transactions.It was the arrest of Parashivamurthy—a cashier of the State Bank of Mysore in a branch in Chamarajnagar district for allegedly exchanging demonetized notes to the tune of Rs 1.51 crore with Rs 100 notes—that led the agency to Michael. Further probe revealed the role of more officials.In another incident, CBI registered case against KL Bhoyar, Assistant Commercial Manager, Central Railway, CST Mumbai. The agency said Bhoyar allegedly exchanged demonetized currency worth Rs 8.22 lakh (approx) with new Rs 2,000 notes and legal tender of Rs 100 notes at booking counters at CST, Mumbai and Kalyan in Thane district. The agency also recovered Rs 2.2 lakh cash—in denomination of Rs 100—in subsequent raids.

Demonetisation: CBI arrests two RBI officials in currency conversion case

New Delhi: CBI has arrested two employees of cash department of Reserve Bank of India in Bengaluru in connection with alleged conversion of Rs 1.99 crore of demonetised currency with specified bank notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 100.

CBI sources said Senior Special Assistant Sadananda Naika and Special Assistant A K Kavin were arrested for unauthorised exchange of the currency and have been booked under charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating besides provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

Both the accused have been sent to four days of CBI custody by a special court in Bengaluru, they said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“It is alleged that both the accused and other unknown officials of RBI, Bengaluru entered in criminal conspiracy with unknown others,” CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh said.

She said in furtherance with the criminal conspiracy, the accused, along with other unknown officials, who were entrusted with the responsibility of new currency notes, “fraudulently” gave away new notes to the tune of Rs 1.99 crore to RBI officials and others.

It is alleged that the exchange was done in violation of exchange limits imposed by the Bankers’ Bank.

CBI had earlier arrested another employee of RBI in a separate case in which currency worth over Rs six lakh was converted by him using his influence over officials of State Bank of Mysore.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 18:39 IST

AJL case: Ex-Haryana CM Hooda cries foul, says Centre indulging in ‘political vendetta’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Saturday alleged that it is the BJP-led NDA government’s modus operandi to hand over the inquiry into the alleged re-allotment of a plot to Associated Journals Limited (AJL) in Panchkula in 2005 to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).Hooda told ANI that the government is indulging in political vendetta and witch hunting by coming after him in the case.”This is their modus operandi. In other cases also they have adopted the same method because once you register a case and then refer to CBI, the CBI does not go for preliminary enquiry. Nothing is wrong done during my tenure. This is just political vendetta and witch hunting. In other cases also they have adopted the same method,” Hooda told ANI.The BJP government in Haryana has handed over the enquiry into the alleged re-allotment of a plot to AJL in Panchkula in 2005 to the CBI.”We handed over the case to CBI a few days back. The agency will soon start its inquiry,” Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar told the media on Friday.Haryana State Vigilance Bureau had registered a case of cheating and corruption against former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and four HUDA officials for allegedly re-alloting a plot to AJL in 2005.The case under various IPC sections, including criminal breach of trust by a public servant, cheating, criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against Hooda, the then Haryana Urban Development Authority chairman, a post held by him ex-officio as the CM, and four of its top officials then, on May 5 this year. The plot had been initially allotted to AJL, the owner of National Herald newspaper, in 1982.After the expiry of the lease period in 1996, the then Haryana Vikas Party goverment led by Bansi Lal resumed its possession. It was reallotted to AJL after the Congress leader came to power in 2005. The vigilance bureau had alleged that the act by the then HUDA chairman and the officials had caused a huge financial loss to the public sector undertaking as the plot should have been sold through open auction instead of being allotted again to AJL. Hooda had then alleged it was political vendetta.With PTI/ANI inputs.

AJL plot allotment: Haryana govt hands over case to CBI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Haryana government on Friday said it had handed over the matter pertaining to reallotment of a plot to Associated Journals Limited (AJL) in Panchkula in 2005 to the CBI for probe. “This case (AJL) has been given to CBI for probe a few days back and soon the CBI will start investigation,” Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar told reporters here.Notably, Haryana State Vigilance Bureau had registered a case of cheating and corruption against former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and four HUDA officials for allegedly realloting a plot to AJL in 2005.The case under various IPC sections, including criminal breach of trust by a public servant, cheating, criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against Hooda, the then Haryana Urban Development Authority chairman, a post held by him ex-officio as the CM, and four of its top officials then, on May 5 this year. The plot had been initially allotted to AJL, the owner of National Herald newspaper, in 1982.After the expiry of the lease period in 1996, the then Haryana Vikas Party goverment led by Bansi Lal resumed its possession. It was reallotted to AJL after the Congress leader came to power in 2005. The vigilance bureau had alleged that the act by the then HUDA chairman and the officials had caused a huge financial loss to the public sector undertaking as the plot should have been sold through open auction instead of being allotted again to AJL. Hooda had then alleged it was political vendetta.

Indira Gandhi sold out India by ignoring Chavan’s call for demonetization in 1971: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said Indira Gandhi rejected suggestions for demonetization in 1971, saying she wanted to win elections, but that resulted in poor economic condition in the country. Alleging that Indira Gandhi sold out India by ignoring advice to demonetize, Prime Minister Modi said, ‘She told her finance minister Y.B. Chavan: are no more elections to be fought by Congress’’ Stressing that the implementation of demonetization policy was required in 1971, but it was implemented now, the Prime Minister, hitting out at the opposition at the BJP Parliamentary Party meet, said, ‘For the Congress, party is bigger than nation; but for us, the nation is above the party.’As the nation observed Vijay Diwas , offering respect to the soldiers, who laid down their lives during the 1971 India-Pakistan war that resulted in the birth of Bangladesh, Prime Minister Modi said ‘The opposition in 1971 did not ask for a proof of the army’s valour, but today’s opposition does.’ He criticised the opposition for demanding the proof of a Surgical Strike carried out by the Indian armed forces that dismantled seven terror launch pads across the border on September 28-29 as retaliation to the Uri terror attack. Stating that demonetization is the first step to curb black money and corruption, but not the last, the Prime Minister said, ‘Corruption is our main target and it will not be long before normalcy returns after the 50-day period.’ He also thanked Chief Ministers of Odisha and Bihar for supporting demonetization. PM Modi rips into Parliament logjam Prime Minister Narendera Modi ripped into the Opposition over Parliament logjam, saying unlike earlier when opposition parties stalled the House against scams, Congress-led parties are now doing so against government’s steps to curb black money and corruption. Modi’s remarks at the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting came on the last day of the Winter Session, which has been a washout due to impasse over demonetization.Targeting Congress, the Prime Minister alleged that it has always put its interest over that of the country while for BJP the nation’s interests are supreme.He again pitched for digital economy as he appealed to the masses to adopt it as a “way of life” to rid the society of corruption and black money.Attacking former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been unsparing in his criticism of demonetization, Modi said he advocated strong measures against corruption and black money but did “nothing” during his rule of 10 years.He also cited late Left stalwart Harkishan Singh Surjeet to support his government’s action.”Earlier the ruling side, especially Congress, would commit scams like 2G, coal-gate, Bofors and the Opposition would then unite and fight against it on the principle of honesty.”But now the ruling side, the BJP-led NDA, has started a campaign again black money and corruption and opposition parties are standing against it,” he said.Modi also noted that the Wanchoo Committee in early 70s had recommended demonetization when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister, recalling that the then senior Left leader Jyotirmoy Basu had demanded its quick implementation, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters following the meeting.”The Wanchoo committee had said it will boost economy. Now after 45 years we have done demonetization but Congress is opposing it. The Left has also joined hands with Congress,” he said.Painting Congress as a “votary of corruption”, he said it had made a law against benami assets in 1988 but never notified it or framed rules and regulations, ensuring that the legislation never came into force.”For us, the country’s interests are always above the party’s. For Congress, party’s interests are above the country’s,” the PM said.On a day that marks the anniversary of Bangladesh’s liberation, Modi also targeted the opposition over its remarks on the army’s surgical strikes.The Opposition in 1971-72 did not seek evidence of the army’s valour unlike that of today, he said.With inputs from PTI and ANI

Virbhadra PMLA case: Delhi HC reserves order on plea to quash CBI case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi High Court reserved its verdict on the plea of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh on Thursday, seeking quashing of FIR lodged against them in connection with a disproportionate assets case.Justice Vipin Sanghi concluded the hearing on the pleas, which claimed that there was no order, direction or judgement by any court that had authorised the CBI to inquire, investigate or register regular cases and exercise jurisdiction in the territory of Himachal Pradesh.The Chief Minister has pleaded during the hearing that the raids on his private residence and other premises in Delhi were conducted with “malafide intentions and political vendetta” by the central investigating agency. He has alleged that CBI had overstepped its jurisdiction in filing the case as the cause of action did not arise in the territory of Delhi.Seeking setting aside of the entire process of CBI investigations and case filed against him and his wife, their counsel argued that the permission of the state government and Home Department was not sought before raiding the residence of a sitting Chief Minister. Opposing their contentions, CBI had earlier said the allegations against Singh in the case are “very serious” as a huge amount of money was involved and the state government has shown “over anxiety” in protecting him.It had said that they had jurisdiction to register and investigate the case in Delhi as the disproportionate assets were allegedly acquired by the Congress leader from the income generated here when he was a Union minister during UPA regime. Singh had already got an interim order from the Himachal Pradesh High Court (HC) on October 1, 2015 restraining the agency from arresting, interrogating or filing a charge sheet in the case without its permission.The matter, in which the Himachal Pradesh HC had passed the interim order, was transferred by the Supreme Court to the Delhi HC, which on April 6 this year had asked the CBI not to arrest Singh and directed him to join the probe. On November 5 last year, the apex court had transferred Singh’s plea from Himachal Pradesh HC to Delhi HC, saying it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, but “simply” transferring the petition “in interest of justice and to save the institution (judiciary) from any embarrassment”.CBI had moved the apex court seeking transfer of the case here and setting aside of the interim order granting Singh protection from arrest and other relief given to him. Singh has sought directions from the court to quash the FIR registered against him and his wife under Sections 13(2) and 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 109 of IPC by CBI on September 23 last year here and urged the court to summon record of the preliminary inquiry and the FIR.The petition has said the CBI had acted without jurisdiction by conducting probe into alleged offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the highest democratically elected constitutional functionary in the state without any consent from the state government, a pre-requisite under Section 6 of Delhi Special Establishment Act.

‘Yuvraj’ Rahul Gandhi writing last chapter of Congress-free India: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing Rahul Gandhi of practising “propaganda of falsehood and rumours”, BJP on Thursday claimed that Congress Vice President is writing the last chapter of “Congress-mukt Bharat” and eroding the party’s base.”He is writing the last chapter of Congress-mukt Bharat (Congress-free India) through his flop and expired script and eroding whatever base the party has been left with. Congress and Rahul Gandhi don’t have any fact or logic. They are engaged in a conspiracy to weaken the fight against black money and corruption through rumours and propaganda of falsehood. Congress and its allies should keep in mind that this is a battle of honesty versus dishonesty,” Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in a statement.Citing BJP’s wins and losses of Congress in state and recent local polls, he said the country is moving towards becoming “Congress-free”. The political drama of the “brand new leader” of the grand old party is also responsible for this, he claimed.
ALSO READ More Rahul speaks, more Congress will be exposed: BJP hits back at ‘personal corruption’ jibe against PM Modi Training guns on Gandhi over alleged corruption involving his party, Naqvi said when “skeletons of corruption” start coming out, they will disturb the “yuvraj’s (prince) political calculations”. Corruption and loot is in the DNA of Congress, he alleged.Latest revelation in the VVIP chopper scam is indicative of the involvement of Congress’ first family, he claimed, insisting this is the reason the opposition party and its “yuvraj” see corruption everywhere. Earlier too Gandhi had levelled “baseless and illogical” allegations but Congress had to face embarrassment and was exposed when the truth came out, the Union Minister said.
ALSO READ He kept quiet for 10 years when MMS govt ‘looted’ country: BJP big guns attack Rahul Gandhi Referring to Gandhi’s attack on BJP over the Lalit Modi episode last year, he said the Congress leader had then also said an earthquake will come when he speaks on the issue. “Rahul Gandhi spoke on the issue in Parliament but no earthquake came, but Congress lost state elections one by one,” he said.

Janardhana Reddy’s associate Bheema Naik arrested following driver’s suicide note

Bheema Naik, an officer of the Karnataka Administrative Services, was arrested on Sunday, days after his driver committed suicide, reported NDTV. In a suicide note, the driver, Ramesh Gowda, had accused Naik of laundering black money for mining giant and ex-BJP leader Janardhana Reddy.

Naik and his current driver Mohammed were arrested in Gulbarga on Sunday morning. According to the NDTV report, the police have filed a case against Naik for abatement of suicide. The driver is also named in the case.

Ramesh Gowda had claimed that Reddy had converted close to Rs 100 crore of black money into white, paying 20 percent commission to senior government officer. According to his suicide note, Gowda was also receiving regular death threats because he had information on how Reddy had converted his money.

Janardhana Reddy. PTIJanardhana Reddy. PTI

Janardhana Reddy. PTI

Janardhana Reddy had recently come under criticism for the extravagant spending on his daughter’s wedding. The lavish wedding is estimated to have cost Rs 100 crore. Over 50,000 guests had attended the wedding with some big names in Karnataka politics but many from BJP didn’t attend the event. Reddy is a former BJP minister and had faced arrest in the 2012 illegal mining case. He was released on bail last year. He had been actively preparing for his daughter’s wedding soon after released on bail.

The high-cost wedding came under criticism as it was held soon after the demonetisation reveal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and many leaders were told to keep away from the wedding. According to reports, Reddy spent Rs 500 crore on the wedding. The Income Tax department had visited Reddy’s residence in Bellary after the wedding.

First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 14:30 IST

Demonetisation: Manmohan Singh writes a scathing critique of his own incompetence

A WhatsApp message that I received today questions the logic behind demonetisation in a cheeky sort of way. It reads:

“Economists who have supported present demonetisation: Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Ajay Devgn, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Baba Ramdev, Virendra Sehwag (sic), Virat Kohli. Economists who have openly opposed and criticized #demonetisation till now: 1. Larry Summers, Amartya Sen, Meera Sanyal, Raghuram Rajan, Manmohan Singh…” and so forth.

While juxtaposing the views of noted economists with achievers in other fields who may not be proficient in economic theories, the argument tries to colour the very idea of demonetisation as foolish. Problem is, the author weakens the case by providing partial information. Just as some economists have opposed demonetisation, many noted economists have backed it too. Therefore, by giving us partial information, the argument taps into the grey area between truth and falsehood with plausible deniability as an exit route.

PM Narendra Modi with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTIPM Narendra Modi with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

PM Narendra Modi with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

This is also the dominating impression that emerges by reading Manmohan Singh‘s much-discussed column in Friday’s edition of The Hindu. Ever since his retirement from public life, Singh has undergone a curious transformation from a weak premiere to an outspoken, bold interventionist. After sleepwalking through his 10-year term as prime minister when he remitted power to his party boss in a stunning act of bad faith, the erudite economist these days is used by the Congress more as a moral tool to beat the present government with.

But the problem with this strategy is that though Singh has never been personally charged with making money for himself, his turning of a blind eye to the corruption scandal blazing all around him while occupying the highest seat of power weakens considerably his moral authority as an occupant of exalted preaching pulpit. Also, as this columnist has argued before, Singh has frequently let his political compulsions interfere with the objectivity of his assessment as an economist.

It is with some degree of curiosity that one went through Singh’s article to find if there were any new points in addition to the speech he had recently delivered in Rajya Sabha where he termed demonetisation as “organised loot and legalised plunder.”

Unfortunately, while the rhetoric quotient of Singh’s column remains high, he fails to furnish any convincing arguments against the currency ban. If, as he claims, the idea is a “mammoth tragedy” and a right, royal mess, the Cambridge-trained economist never dips into his famed erudition to present doable solutions.

Aside of the doomsday prophecy, Singh paints a sorry picture of India’s poverty, the plight of informal economy and the helplessness of the unbanked which ironically is the most scathing critique yet of his own incompetence as a policymaker and holder of public office with over four decades of experience.

Singh has never been given credit for his writing skills but he does a Mark Antony in his column. Taking a cue perhaps from Antony’s ‘Brutus is an honorable man’, Singh stresses on “the need to tackle black money” too frequently to punch a hole in the intention behind Narendra Modi‘s drive. Amid all the chicanery and figures of speech, two broad points emerge from Singh’s editorial. One, the breakdown of trust between the government and the people due to the sudden decommissioning of notes and two, the hardships that the populace has been subjected to.

“In one impetuous decision,” writes Manmohan Singh, “the Prime Minister has shattered the faith and confidence that hundreds of millions of Indians had reposed in the Government of India to protect them and their money.”

There can be no denying that Modi’s move has come as a rude jolt and the point that demonetisation may erode the trust in paper money issued by a sovereign nation is well-taken.

As has been noted, the populace, despite hardships, has been by and large rallying behind the government. Their trust in Modi’s purpose remains intact. Whether or not black money will be eradicated is for economists to argue and taxmen to calculate. The moot point, however, is that people still believe in Modi’s intention. BJP’s recent by-poll victories — voting for which took place well into the implementation of currency ban — in Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and sweeping wins in Maharashtra and Gujarat civic polls would indicate that the electorate has largely sanctioned the process, howsoever inconvenient.

However, when it comes to trust between the government and the citizens, Manmohan Singh should know that he was voted out of office because his government lacked the very trust that he now talks of. People may or may not be behind demonetisation but they were most definitely not behind the tsunami of scams that unfolded before their eyes during UPA 2 and they spoke by throwing the Congress out of power.

As far as the suffering of the poor is concerned, venerated economist Singh should know what is it that hurts the poor the most. It is corruption and Singh’s government was neck-deep in it.

Was the trust of the poor not shattered and confidence of millions not eroded when 2G, CoalGate, Adarsh Housing Society scandal, chopper scam, RailGate, banking sector scam, CWG scam exploded into public consciousness one after the other? Can Singh absolve himself of all responsibility? Does he not bear still the albatross of dishing out a corrupted government around his neck that made and kept people poor?

In a research paper written this year on institutional corruption and how it exploits the poor, Murali Patibandla of Indian Institute of Management Bangalore writes about institutional corruption (as) “a situation where influences within an economy of influence tend to weaken the effectiveness of an institution, especially by weakening public trust of the institution. In India’s case, the UPA’s rule from 2004 to 2014 presented large-scale corruption on several fronts. One can observe qualitatively that the public lost trust in the government… ********(italics mine)******* The coal blocks allocations was one of the biggest corruption scandals in India under the UPA rule from 2004-14. Even the Prime Minister’s office was accused of corruption in the allocation of coal blocks to powerful business men and groups…. The central government of the UPA regime allocated coal blocks to powerful business men at prices far below their opportunity cost. The CAG showed the magnitude of loss to the exchequer.”

As a celebrated economist, Singh, more than any other commentator, would know how “public lost trust in the government” because it saw the UPA 2 as a government of the crony capitalists, by the crony capitalists and for the crony capitalists. It is interesting and a little ironic that the man who headed this corrupted government now talks of erosion of trust between government and the people and tries to lecture the incumbent on it.

According to Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer, “corruption hits poor people hardest – with devastating consequences. A bribe demanded by a police officer may mean that a family can’t afford school fees or even food to eat. Corruption also means that the services people depend on — from drinking water to health clinics — suffer. They are often are of a low quality or not sufficient to meet society’s most basic needs. Corruption siphons off monies needed to improve them while also distorting policy decisions, such as where roads and schools are built.”

Singh appears to admit that Indian economy is too dependent on cash but just as the WhatsApp message quoted in the beginning of the piece, suffers from errors of omission, never explaining that too much cash in an economy makes it easier to generate black wealth.

He writes: “It is indeed true that India’s cash to GDP ratio is very high vis-à-vis other nations. But this is also an indicator of the Indian economy’s dependence on cash. Consumer confidence is an important economic variable in a nation’s growth prospects. It is now evident that this sudden overnight ban on currency has dented the confidence of hundreds of millions of Indian consumers, which can have severe economic ramifications.”

In an article published in January last year, Times of India details how Indians’ love for cash is placing a heavy burden on the economy. “The RBI and commercial banks annually spend around Rs 21,000 crore ($3.5 billion) in currency operations costs while citizens of Delhi alone spend Rs 9.1 crore and 60 lakh hours in collecting cash. The scale of this burden is unique to India considering that it is among the most cash-intensive economies in the world with a cash-to-GDP ratio of 12%, almost four times as much as other markets such as Brazil (3.93%), Mexico (5.3%) and South Africa (3.73%).”

And what is the cost incurred? According to the article, “There are many reasons why India has to pay such a high price. One is the need to frequently reissue notes due to poor handling — low-value notes have to be replaced in less than a year. The other reason is the need to frequently upgrade security features and replace old notes. There is a huge cost in pulling old notes out of circulation and replacing them. India also has unique issues in logistics and in some places the currency notes have to be transported by helicopter.”

It is indeed staggering that Singh, who as chief economic adviser to the government, RBI governor, chairman of Planning Commission, Union finance minister and finally as the prime minister of India for two terms failed miserably to bring the unbanked into the banking net and adopt more of the informal economy into the formal sector. He is correct in pointing out that these sectors have been hit hardest. But Singh fails to mention that what he failed to achieve in his various roles in public office for over four decades, Modi has done in less than four years.

In just over two and a half years, over 25 crore Indians have been brought into the banking net and now receive government subsidies directly into their account. There can be many mistakes in the implementation of demonetisation, but it is a truism that the only person who makes mistakes is the one who tried. Modi tried, maybe failed, maybe succeeded. The jury is still out. But Manmohan Singh did not even try. He would be well advised to maintain his silence.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 21:03 IST

International Anti-Corruption Day: 70% corporate employees feel note ban will curb graft, says EY survey

Indicating popular support to the government’s effort to curb illicit wealth, about 70 percent of India Inc employees feel demonetisation can help control corruption in the long run, says a survey by EY.

The findings are based on survey of 650 individuals working for corporate houses in India, ahead of International Anti-Corruption Day, which is being observed today.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Noting that black money and corruption have been the key challenges for global economies, including India, in recent times, EY India Partner Yogen Vaidya (Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services) said, “Broadly, this (demonetisation) is expected to boost India’s anti-money laundering efforts and curb the menace of unaccounted illicit wealth, which has been hoarded in the form of cash.”

“Though still at an initial stage, the demonetisation move can help banks identify and report suspicious transaction patterns through close monitoring,” Vaidya added.

Besides, he said at the macro-level the move can help in the ease of doing business, improve investor confidence and enable a more ethical way of conducting business in India. Further, on anti-bribery and anti-corruption (ABAC) frameworks adopted by corporate houses, 40 percent of the respondents said they have never attended training sessions sensitising them on the issue, the survey noted.

However, only 15 percent of the respondents were found to be “not aware that they may be held personally liable for improper activities, done on behalf of their organisation”. Also, 94 percent of the respondents believe the private sector should be covered under the amendments proposed in the Prevention of Corruption Act, it added.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 08:49 IST

CBI arrests bank official, 2 bizmen for fraudulent exchange of old notes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CBI on Wednesday arrested a senior manager of Central Bank of India and two owners of a firm in Bengaluru for allegedly violating RBI guidelines on scraping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.The agency had registered an FIR against senior manager and branch head of Central Bank of India’s Basavanagudi branch S Lakshimnarayana and Directors of Omkar Parimal Mandir — S Gopal and Ashwin G Sunkur — on Tuesday and carried out searches at various places.The three were called for questioning at the CBI office in Bengaluru this morning and placed under arrest after they allegedly failed to answer many of the questions, the CBI said here.The agency has booked them under sections of IPC dealing with criminal conspiracy and cheating as well as abuse of official position under the Prevention of Corruption Act.During the searches carried out yesterday at Bengaluru which included the residence of bank officials and private persons, the agency claimed to have recovered incriminating documents, including bank vouchers, counterfoils, DDs, property documents, hard disks and Rs 5,91,500 cash in old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.In its FIR filed in the designated CBI court in Bengaluru, the CBI alleged that from November 15 to November 18, the bank manager had issued 149 demand drafts for amounts less than Rs 50,000 in favour of a Pune-based finance company in violation of RBI guidelines.The total value of the demand drafts was Rs 71 lakh which the branch manager accepted in demonetized notes from the owners of the company, the agency said.The amount was staggered and 149 DDs were issued for less than Rs 50,000 which was allegedly done by the accused fraudulently to convert the demonetized notes.The firm’s owners subsequently cancelled the drafts and encashed the amount thereby clandestinely converting old notes into valid bills, the CBI alleged.

Demonetization: Large volumes of cash are big source of corruption, says PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that large volumes of cash are a big source of corruption and black money.In an article posted on social media, Prime Minister Modi that said corruption slows down growth and takes a toll on the dreams of the poor, neo-middle class and middle class.”In the 21st century India, there is no place for corruption,” he said.Prime Minister Modi also appealed to the people to lead the change towards cashless transactions and to lay the strong foundations of an India where there is no place for such malaise.”Today, we live in an era of mobile banking and mobile wallets. Ordering food, buying and selling furniture, ordering a taxi all of this and lot more is possible through mobiles. Technology has brought speed and convenience in our lives,” he added.

DTC officials submit demonetized notes worth Rs 8.15 crore, ACB asked to probe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Demonetized notes worth Rs 8.15 crore were deposited in banks by Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) officials between November 8 and 20, an inquiry panel has said in its preliminary report, prompting the Delhi government to refer the matter to ACB for probe.Transport Minister Satyendar Jain said some senior DTC officials maybe involved in the matter, indicating that either they deposited their “bribe money” in DTC’s bank accounts or they did this for earning “commission”. On November 19, Jain had ordered the DTC’s CMD to conduct a detailed inquiry into allegations that some officers in the DTC are interchanging notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 against the smaller-value notes collected from the passengers as fare.”The CMD has submitted his preliminary report. It shows that from November 8 to 20, Rs 8,14,85,500 was deposited in banks in the form of demonetized notes. 33,647 notes in denomination of Rs 1000 and 95,677 notes in denomination of Rs 500 were deposited. I have asked the Transport Commissioner to refer the matter to the Anti-Corruption Branch of the Delhi government for further probe and suspend the officials who are suspected to be involved in the matter, immediately,” Jain told reporters in New Delhi.The Minister said he was made aware of the issue in a public hearing on November 19. Scrapped Rs 500 and 1,000 notes were deposited by DTC officials in banks despite the state bus agency issuing an order on November 9, asking the conductors not to accept Demonetized notes. Jain sought to know how high-value currency notes were deposited in banks by DTC officials if bus conductors did not accept them from passengers.”The probe showed that most of the cash deposited was in the form Demonetized notes. For instance, Rs 11.65 lakh was deposited in a bank by a bus depot staff of which, surprisingly, 98% was in the form of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. At depots of West Zone, 16,593 notes of Rs 1,000 and 43,636 notes of Rs 500 were deposited in banks,” he said.

Kerala Vigilance chief Jacob Thomas seeks whistleblowers’ protection for self

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an unusual action, Kerala Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau chief and DGP Jacob Thomas, who has taken a tough stand against corrupt politicians including ex-ministers and bureaucrats, has sought whistleblowers protection for himself from the Centre.Thomas has sent a letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Chief Secretary SM Vijayanand requesting them to urge the Centre “to grant him adequate protection from being harassed and put under any kind of pressure while exposing departmental corruption and irregularities by public functionaries,” official sources said.According to Whistleblowers Protection Act 2011, the “Central government shall ensure that no person or a public servant who has made a disclosure under this Act is victimised by initiation of any proceedings or otherwise merely on the ground that such person or a public servant had made a disclosure or rendered assistance in inquiry under this Act.” The Act, which received Presidential assent on May 9, 2014, also states that if any person was being victimised or likely to be victimised for making disclosures or rendered assistance under the Act, he may, file an application before the Competent Authority seeking redress in the matter.”And such authority shall take such action, as deemed fit and may give suitable directions to the concerned public servant or the public authority, as the case may be, to protect such person from being victimised or avoid his victimisation,” it says.The demand of the senior most IPS officer in the state assumes significance in the wake of a series of inquiries launched by the anti-corruption watchdog, including those against some top bureaucrats.Interestingly, Thomas was the first IPS officer in the state to get whistleblowers protection from the Union government in 2005 after he brought to light corruption in the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation while serving as its managing director.Advocate DB Binu, a state-based RTI activist, said even two years after the much-awaited Whistleblowers Protection Act came into existence, it was yet to be fully operational in the country. “There is no concrete system to protect whistleblowers in our country right now. If a person gets threat and harassment for whistleblowing a corruption, will anybody else be ready to follow his footsteps?” he said.”Whistleblowers play a significant role in anti-corruption drives. They face lot of threats and harassment while exposing corruption. This is much high in the case if an insider, who whistleblows about the corruption of a system by standing within it,” he said.

China terms Modi’s demonetisation “very bold”, calls it a gamble

Beijing: Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation move as “very bold”, China’s official media said it was a “gamble” that would create a precedent irrespective of whether it succeeds or fails and China will draw lessons from its impact on corruption.

“Modi’s move is very bold. We cannot imagine what would happen in China if the country bans its 50 and 100 yuan notes,” said an editorial in the state-run Global Times titled ‘Modi takes a gamble with money reform’. 100 yuan is China’s highest currency note.

“To prevent a leak of information jeopardising the implementation of the demonetisation reform, the roll out of the plan had to be kept confidential. Modi is in a dilemma as the reform aims to render the black money useless but the process goes against the governance principle of winning support of the public before initiating a new policy,” the editorial said.

asean-modi-afp

Narendra Modi. AFP

“As more than 90 per cent of transactions in India are made with cash, banning 85 per cent of the currency in circulation brings a lot of trouble to people’s daily life” sparking fierce criticism including from “former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who termed it as organised loot”, it said.

“Demonetisation can crackdown on corruption and shadow economy but it is obviously unable to solve the deeper social and political issues that help breed the aforementioned problems,” the editorial said.

However, it stated that as far as the root causes of corruption exist, the problems will always resurface. “In other words, the Modi government wishes to turn a long and arduous reform into a one-off deal,” it said.

“Demonetisation is a gamble for Modi. He bet on both the execution ability of the government and the tolerance level of the Indian society, hoping that the benefits of this reform can outrun the negative social impacts and low morale,” the editorial said.

It asserted that the “Western-style” democratic system of India allows little room for such bold moves.  “However, he is really carrying it out, and will create a precedent no matter he succeeds or fails,” it said.

“Reform is always difficult and requires more than just courage. Modi’s demonetisation came with good intention but whether it can succeed depends on the efficiency of the system and the cooperation of the entire society.

More and more people are growing pessimistic about the ability of Modi’s government to control the process,” the editorial said. Noting that China’s reform and opening-up has been going on for nearly 40 years, the editorial said it had ups and downs but remained largely stable.

“Its success is based on broad public support,” it said. “The strong execution capabilities of the Communist Party of China are built on the consensus of the entire country. By observing India’s reforms we will draw lessons, which would in turn help us understand our own reforms,” it said.

First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 18:39 IST

More trouble for AAP, CBI files corruption case against leader

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In another setback to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case against party legislator from Okhla, Amanatullah Khan, on Friday for the alleged recruitment scam and financial irregularities in Delhi Waqf Board when Khan was its chairman.The agency registered a corruption case against Khan after Lieutenant Governor (LG) Najeeb Jung recommended a CBI probe into the scam allegations, after he dissolved the board in October. This is expected to further escalate tension between the Centre and the AAP government.”We have registered a corruption case against the then chairman of Delhi Waqf Board and unknown persons under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act related to criminal misconduct and corruption,” said a senior CBI officer.The FIR has been registered based on the complaints submitted by BJP leader and RTI activist Vivek Garg, and Mohammad Mustafa, to the Delhi government’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) in September.The case pertains to misuse of official position, financial irregularities and allowing encroachers and tenants to occupy Waqf Board properties in violation of the lease rules of the board, the agency said.The FIR alleged that the existing Waqf Board was illegally scrapped and superseded by the Delhi government under the directions of Deputy Chief Minister and Chief Minister of Delhi, CBI sources said.It alleged that another Waqf Board was constituted and its chairman was elected under the directions of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in contravention of the Waqf Act-1955 and Delhi Waqf rules of 1977.Sources also said that the ACB has submitted all documents related to the case to the CBI for further probe last week. ACB had grilled Khan and also carried out raids at the Waqf Board during preliminary inquiry into the complaints.”We have submitted our inquiry report to the CBI,” a source in ACB said.According to the complaints, when Khan was the Chairman of the board, around 40 people were hired in contravention to the recruitment rules. It was also alleged that the jobs were given to Khan’s relatives and AAP workers and that no advertisements were issued regarding the recruitment. They further alleged that the Delhi Waqf Board has recruited people on several key posts since Khan became the chairman of the body in March this year.On October 7, Jung dissolved the Waqf Board and referred the matter to the CBI. He directed the authorities concerned to reconstitute the board, quashing all appointments made by Khan. While Khan was the Chairman of the board, retired IPS officer Mehboob Alam was appointed as CEO. Both the appointments were struck down by the LG”for not having obtained the approval of the competent authority”.The LG office, in a statement, had said: “In view of the deliberate and persistent acts of illegality, violation of rules, allegations of corruption, possibility of mala fide intentions etc, the matter related to the Delhi Waqf Board is referred to the CBI for investigation.”Jung has also directed Divisional Commissioner A Anbarasu to constitute a committee to review the legality and propriety of all decisions and action taken by the Board after its constitution in March 2016 and submit its report . Earlier this month, the officer had submitted the report to the LG office .

Nagpur: ACB seizes Rs 1 crore in old currency notes, 2 detained

Thu, 24 Nov 2016-11:58pm , Nagpur , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Anti-Corruption Bureau on Thursday seized defunct currency notes worth over Rs one crore at Gondkheri, around 40 kms from here, on the busy Nagpur-Amaravati road.DSP (ACB) Milind Totre said that the cash, in defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, was being transported from Amaravati to Nagpur in a car.Two persons were detained and were being questioned, he added.

How Narendra Modi’s survey limits the range of feedback that can be provided by user

The government has faced increasingly targeted attacks by the Opposition and the public on the merits of the demonetisation move carried out a fortnight ago. In an attempt to placate this ire and to create a feedback loop that directly engages with the public, the government has decided to conduct a mass survey to gauge public perception. The survey is hosted on the Narendra Modi mobile application that can be found on the Android and iOS app stores. This article will attempt to analyse the mobile application by looking at the design principles followed in the survey and the scope given to survey takers to express their true opinion of the demonetisation move.

At the time of writing, 90 percent of respondents expressed the feeling that the government’s move was ‘brilliant/nice’. However, one must look into the merits of the survey and its limitations to understand the true value and nature of the results of the survey.

The first step required in order to take the survey, is downloading the application itself, which forces the user to automatically grant access to Contacts, Phone and Storage functions of their phone. While there are ostensible reasons for these permissions, (sharing the data from within the application, storing downloaded information, etc.) unless the user is running Android 6.0 or above, the user doesn’t have a choice in giving these permissions. This leaves the application with the potential to collect the entire phone book of the user as as well as access any files stored on the user’s device. This is independent of the survey and provides a large scope for massive data collection from any user just choosing to install the application in the first place. It is easily possible to create a version of the application that carries out a vast majority of its current functions without these permissions and the government (along with the application developer) should endeavour to do so at the earliest. In the alternative, they should have a clear and distinct privacy policy that informs users of the data collection and its possible use.

The second major step required to take the survey is the long and tedious registration process, which requires all sorts of details with massive privacy implications. This includes the name, email ID, phone number, residency details, profession and interests, all of which are compulsory fields. Why all of these details are necessary to take a supposedly simple survey and what possible use this information can be put to by the government is both unclear and problematic. It is also possible to register using Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites where there is a varying standard of equally private and unnecessary information that is being collected by the application from these websites. There are no privacy notices or consent forms that govern this information collection nor is their any indication of how this information will be put to use beyond the scope of the survey. The generic, standard form privacy policy (less than 10 lines long) on the Narendra Modi website is hidden at the bottom of the application download page (not in the application itself) and leaves a lot to be desired to safeguard user interest.

Once the registration is complete, the user is presented with the survey, which has a total of 10 questions of 3 broad categories. 6 of these questions have multiple choice answers, 3 of them have a sliding rating meter and 1 question has general comments/suggestion page.  The article will now look at these categories and analyze the design of the questions, the extent of the choice they give to the users and finally if the survey has a coercive or limiting effect on the feedback that can be given by the user via the application regarding the demonetisation move.

Choice limiting multiple choice questions.Choice limiting multiple choice questions.

Choice limiting multiple choice questions.

The first category of questions, the multiple choice questions (MCQ), have varying degree of choices that the user can select from. However, regardless of the extent of the choices, their exact nature is severely limiting and makes it almost impossible to express a truly negative opinion of the survey. This is done in two ways, first the explicit restriction of choices and second the more subtle negative colouring of responses by cleverly phrasing questions. An example of the explicit restriction of choices can be seen in Question No 7. “Demonetisation will bring  real estate, higher education, healthcare in common man’s reach” which has three options, “Completely Agree, Partially Agree and Can’t Say.” There is no option to disagree with the paradigm set by the question and neither is there an option for the user to further explain or elucidate upon the answer, if he/she choose Can’t Say as an option. This also means that there will be no answers that will have “No” as an answer to the fairly open ended question, which can have a myriad of responses. The same can be said for Question No. 6 regarding the demonetisation move’s effectiveness in curbing illegal activities to which, once again, “No” is not an answer, with “Don’t Know” being the best a user disagreeing can do with the survey question.

The second, more subtle aspect of the MCQ questions are questions that serve as bait to demand a positive answer, which can be used to later bolster the survey’s results in a positive light. For example, Question No. 1 reads “Do you think Black Money exists in India” and Question No. 2 reads “Do you think the evil of Corruption & Black Money needs to be fought and eliminated?” both of which have simple “Yes” and “No” as the only two possible responses. These rhetorical questions, which demand a positive answer, provide almost no aspect for the user to subtly or explicitly disagree with motivating factor behind the demonetisation move. The placement of these questions and the lack of choice in responses that can be given to them leaves huge potential to tilt the survey results in the favour of the government’s move. For example, you can’t simultaneously agree that black money is a problem and think the demonetisation move is a bad idea, simply because you can’t express that view in a single question within the survey.

Positive bias driven multiple choice question.Positive bias driven multiple choice question.

Positive bias driven multiple choice question.

The other two categories of questions do not suffer from the overt problems of encouraging positive bias that the MCQ questions do but leave a fair bit to be desired in their outlook towards individuals who disagree with the move. In the sliding rating meter questions, there are strong visual cues that hint that disagreeing with the demonetisation move is a negative, undesirable idea. They do so by using a large, danger red frown as the icon for Question No. 5 that asks for the survey takers opinion on the ban on old 500 and 1000 rupee notes. The same goes for Question No. 3 that deals with the general moves of the government to tackle black money. This makes any opinion or answer that disagrees with the validity of the move an answer that is portrayed in a negative light. Similarly, the general comments/suggestion section in Question No. 10 is the only place for anyone to express a negative or non-concurring opinion, which there is no way to measure statistically in the overall survey results and will mostly likely not be counted in the final survey results.

Visual cues.Visual cues.

Visual cues.

All of the above points clearly show that the design of both the Narendra Modi mobile application and its survey have huge potential for coercing a biased viewpoint upon any  survey taker and ensure that it is almost possible to express a stark, negative opinion against the demonetisation move via the survey. This can and should be remedied by the government to allow for a more open, conducive and critical discourse to take place regarding the move among the public. It is only when such opinion is allowed to exist in the first place, that the government can understand, engage and respond to the various valid critiques of the move. The chilling effect that would take place in the current form of the survey would be counterproductive to the original intent behind its creation, which was to create a direct constructive feedback loop between the public and the government.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 11:37 IST

Demonetisation: Despite fortnight of hardship, cash-strapped India stands by Modi

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CBI moves plea for extradition of Vijay Mallya

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday obtained a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Vijay Mallya. The agency plans to get the liquor baron extradited to India from the United Kingdom, where he has been staying after leaving India in March this year. CBI officials said the agency will send an extradition request to UK authorities through diplomatic channels and looks forward to bring Mallya to join the investigation. Sources said that the move will help the probe agency in examining the role of suspected bankers in India who allegedly connived with Mallya and aided the sanctioning of loans towards the liqour baron’s now defunct Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) company.“We were able to obtain the NBW today. The next is extradition and we will be using all diplomatic channels at our disposal to extradite him,” said a senior CBI official.The CBI filed a case against KFA, its Chief Financial Officer A Raghunathan and some officials of IDBI Bank for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and under the Prevention of Corruption Act alleging that Rs 900 cr that IDBI sanctioned as a loan to Mallya was in “violation of norms to do with credit limits”. Mallya also owes several banks about Rs 9,000 cr. The State Bank of India, which leads the consortium of 17 banks that lent money to KFA, had moved Debt Recovery Tribunal against the airlines chairman in its bid to recover over Rs 7,000 cr of dues from him.Mallya has already has an NBW issued against him by a Delhi court for evading summons in a Foreign Exchange Regulation Act case.

Demonetisation drive: The ‘corruption economy’ will be unaffected by this move

At a meeting of senior police officers in united Andhra Pradesh a few years back, the DGP warned a top cop without taking his name. “Yeh dukaandaari yahan band karo”. Everyone knew who the barb was directed at.

The ‘dukaandaari’ was a reference to the practise of inspectors who got the posting of their choice to carry a sweet box to this top cop. Named after a popular sweet eatery in Hyderabad, in police parlance it was called the ‘Pulla Reddy box’. While the sweets would be arranged on top, the bottom layer would be wads of cash. After the DGP’s diktat, the officer stopped the practice at his office.

Inspectors were instead asked to deliver the ‘Pulla Reddy box’ at his residence.

Prime minister Narendra Modi would like India to believe that with his financial masterstroke of demonetisation, generation of black money of this kind would be a thing of the past. But utopia is not a ‘Made in India’ product. India needs to stop fooling itself that demonetisation will wipe out the corruption economy. It cannot because it is sustained by the black sheep in the political establishment and aided and abetted by the bureaucracy.

Take the example of another south Indian state where the `cover system’ is right now in vogue. An aspirant for posting at a particular police station goes to the local MLA who gives him separate letters in three different envelopes, marked to the IG, DIG and SP of the district, pushing his case. The money is paid directly to the MLA and depending on the honesty quotient of the top cops, a part of the booty comes to them as well.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

In this state, the police machinery no longer decides on who to post where. The neta has taken over the job. The SPs are told by their uniformed bosses to handle this direct political interference in postings at their level. “We do not want any friction. Manage it at your level. Don’t let it come to the state capital,” was the oral diktat given to SPs in this state.

“My own inspectors are forced to pay for both postings and retention after they complete one year in the post. Money is paid to the MLAs and even the minister to get the state police headquarters to do so,” says a district SP, known for his probity.

It is a fixed rate card for postings. Sources say to get posted as sub-inspector in a rural police station where there is the possibility of making big money, a payment of Rs 5 lakh is expected. A circle inspector’s posting comes for Rs 7 lakh. If you want to get posted as DSP in a jurisdiction of your choice, Rs 10 lakh need to be shelled out.

The amount also has to be shelled out if you are in a ‘good’ post and likely to be transferred. Money is then paid to retain the lucrative post. Do the math to realise how much a corrupt SI or CI must be making on the side to be able to afford such hefty bribes. This does not mean every cop is dishonest. But more often than not, the ones who do not pay are shunted to loopline postings.

The only time the rate is lowered is when the cop belongs to the same caste as the local MLA or minister. In such cases, appointments are done with quid pro quo made clear. At times, a pliant police officer at the SHO level is appointed for a temporary period only to settle a legal dispute — most often a land dispute — in favour of a political heavyweight.

It is a fallacy to think the black money is generated only by businessmen, traders, builders and politicians. Of course, it is. But given the extent to which the state controls our lives, different government departments like revenue, excise, transport are also an integral part of the black money mafia.

Which is why the demonetisation exercise is at best, a temporary blip, which will make the corrupt now lose 30 to 40 per cent of their loot, if it happens to be in cash. That is the hit they will take when they get their booty exchanged through commission agents. But the corruption economy will be back in business with a vengeance, sooner than the main economy, to make up for what they have lost. India, for all you know, will witness more corruption post 30 December. The new 2000 rupee notes will occupy lesser space in Pulla Reddy boxes. Gujarat witnessed the first such case of bribery last week when two port trust officials were arrested for allegedly accepting Rs 2.9 lakh in new 2000 rupee notes.

How do the dishonest SIs, CIs and SHOs manage to earn so much to bribe a politician to get a posting of their choice, you would wonder. The favorite spots for collecting mamool (bribe) for cops are the wine shops. Each wine shop under the jurisdiction of a police station is forced to pay between Rs 10000 to 20000 every month. The booty is then distributed between all the policemen involved, with a share often going right up to the top. Failure to pay up invites cases against the shop owners.

Trucks transporting sand illegally are another hunting ground. If the truck belongs to a politician, a lower fine is imposed. Sky is the limit if it does not have political patronage. Quarries, mines, settling accident cases are other ways of making money.

The senior cops never soil their hands in the extortion business. A constable, usually the most trusted man of the SHO is entrusted with the job of collecting the moolah and dividing the share among everyone. This man goes by a different nomenclature in different states. He is called ‘collector’ in some and ‘roadmaster’ in others.

In Karnataka, DSP MK Ganapathi killed himself in July and named minister KJ George and two senior IPS officers as the cause for his death. But a probe absolved the trio of any role in Ganapathy’s death.

In August, sub-inspector Ramakrishna Reddy committed suicide in Medak district of Telangana. His family alleged that his superiors had been mounting pressure on him for Rs 15 lakh in bribes. In the suicide note, he reportedly named nine policemen including the DSP and a circle inspector for pushing him to taking the extreme step.

A superintendent of police tells me how his district minister has not called him even once since the night of 8 November. “He would otherwise call me everyday to get some work or the other done, including pushing for postings and transfers. But he is completely silent now,” says the SP. He suspects that the neta is busy getting his black money, that he has reportedly hoarded, converted into white through brokers in the state capital.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 10:39 IST

Demonetisation: Kudos to Modi but the clean-up drive, like charity, should start at home

A senior politician in Telangana was a relieved man on the evening of 8 November, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared 500 and 1000 rupee notes were no longer legal tender. He was to receive Rs 2 crore that morning in cash but the person had delivered only Rs 30 lakh. The neta ji immediately called up the person and asked him to give the rest in new currency notes only.

Another phone call and the process of converting Rs 30 lakh given in 1000 rupee notes into 100 rupee notes also was taken care of.
“It is only the common man who is troubled by having to spend hours just to withdraw Rs 4500 from a bank. Politicians know how to deal with big amounts,” said a politician. “Modi is wrong. The rich are sleeping peacefully while the poor are queuing up in front of ATMs from 5 am, with their quilts,” said another.

Another neta is mulling over whether to get his Rs 2 crore cash converted with a 30 percent commission or use the hawala route to send it out and get it back sometime next year.

These are voices from different ends of the political spectrum — BJP, Congress and regional parties. Some of them may take a minor hit, some of their money will come into the banking system. But anyone telling you that India will be ‘Swachh Bharat’ post 30 December, is only pulling wool over your eyes.

“Ba ba black sheep, have you any wool?

Yes sir, Yes sir, three bags full.”

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Frankly, anyone who understands how political parties operate in India knows that distributing money among say, 200 cadre is not a big deal for a politician. Political parties are most organised when it comes to distribution of money, with loyalty an obvious corollary of the caste factor, and greed because of personal gain.

A survey conducted by In Shorts among 2.69 lakh app users reveals that 82 percent of Indians support Modi’s demonetisation move. But Narendra Modi cannot become ‘Robinhood’ Modi unless he cleans up the political system. Because the black buck stops at the political party table.

Remember a comment made by former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, a month before the assembly elections this summer? He red-flagged a massive surge in cash circulation during the elections in Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry. Rajan said money in people’s hands had gone up by over Rs 60000 crore. He noted that this is “not normal” and needs to be probed.

Let us not forget that in a dubious first for Indian elections, assembly elections to two constituencies in Tamil Nadu were cancelled by the Election Commission because of rampant use of money power to bribe votes.

Jayaprakash Narayan of the Loksatta Party who espouses clean politics says the election system is to blame for the black economy that thrives in India. “A Lok Sabha election costs close to Rs 20000 crore. An assembly election costs double the amount and the same goes for local bodies. And a bulk of that amount is towards buying of votes,” says Narayan.

So while Modi talks of serving a kadak (strong) chai, he should serve it to his brethren first. The political ecosystem of which he is a part, is no Surf Excel washed. Funding to political parties is most opaque. Every MP and MLA starts with a lie about the crores he or she has spent to win the election. And the Modi government, filed an affidavit in August 2015 in the Supreme court opposing bringing political parties under RTI.

But I am turned into a pauper of sorts, made to run from bank to ATM, for Rs 4500 producing my PAN and Aadhaar cards and told, “Bhai, tum line me khade hoge ya nahi?

In a couple of months from now, the election campaign in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab will be in full swing. Does the BJP want the people of India to believe that every penny spent on its choppers, advertisements, rallies, food is accounted for, given by cheque and not sourced with black money? If so, put it out in the public domain.

I am all for Modi ensuring a more clean India. But the clean-up drive, like charity, should start at home.

Today the small trader indulges in petty sales tax corruption because the system encourages him to do so. He has to ensure he has unaccounted for cash because when a candidate at the local ward level or an assembly election comes knocking at his door soliciting election funds, he has to shell out the moolah. It is this compromised system, blessed by the seedy political culture that encourages black money.

It would have been far more effective an assault on black money if the prime minister had started with going after the benami land deals. That is where most of Modi’s political brethren, cutting across party lines, have parked their ill-gotten wealth. The advance warning would only help them find a way out of the mess.

First Published On : Nov 15, 2016 14:25 IST

Demonetisation: ‘Tough day’ for the common man, but we all know who’s having ‘sleepless nights’

The ‘stupid common man’ is happy about the cleaning and with a masochistic smile, sipping the ‘strong tea’, to which in any case, he has become accustomed over the years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a rally in Ghazipur (Uttar Pradesh) on Monday, said, “My decision is a little harsh. When I was young, poor people used to ask for ‘kadak’ (strong) tea but it spoils the mood of rich.”

The prime minister has indeed served very strong tea to the people. But it is essentially spoiling the taste buds of those who had in many ways legitimised the illegitimate. While the stories of people struggling in long queues have made the headlines, those who were never part of these queues are intelligently concealing their pain. After all, their expression of dissent is illegitimate.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

When did we last find a top ranking bureaucrat, a politician of some standing, a celebrity or a Porsche-driving businessman standing in the queue for an ATM? It was not that their absence ever made the news, rather it was the other way round.

It was always the common man who was seen standing there, in those long queues. Why is it that the ‘harassed’ lot who are smilingly bearing the brunt of the sudden demonetisation — with great dignity for the greater good — are projected as victims, when they are acting like dutiful soldiers in this battle against corruption?

Why instead we are not talking about those who are having sleepless nights, those who are calling their relatives and friends with generous offers of depositing Rs 2.5 lakh in their bank accounts.

While these people might not be profiled like the ‘60-year-old man who fainted standing the queue’, their numbers are no fewer.

Consider this:

Case 1: On a WhatsApp group of a family from Uttar Pradesh, with most of the members in white collar jobs and one in the civil services (details of the group were shared by one of the non-confirming members), a discussion progressed on 9 November around the topic of demonetisation. While most of the members discussed both pros and cons of the move, one among them was all resentful and dissenting. He was the one who wore the white collar with all ‘civility’. The reason was clear to all the members but no one spoke of it.

Case 2: A marriage venue was shifted from a fancy and expensive heritage site in Rajasthan to a modest banquet hall in Delhi. Nobody asked the reason for the change but everyone who was informed about it could not help a wry smile.

Case 3: At an upscale eating joint in Central Delhi, a man swiped his cards many times and the beads of sweat increased on his forehead with each declined transaction. He had heard the very same morning that the income tax (I-T) department had been instructed to monitor bank accounts and report any ‘abnormal’ transaction. He called a friend and informed him about declined transaction and asks him to ‘do something’.

These are the people who are finding this attack on their accounted wealth absurd.

These are the people who are hit hardest, but then they are using all their sophistication to hide their angst.

In a country where upari kamaai is seen as an achievement and ‘just salary’ is frowned upon, who in his right senses can argue against the existence of huge amounts of black money?

In August last year, CID officials raided a flat in Bengaluru owned by a Karnataka cadre IAS and found cash worth Rs 4.37 crore. Last year in a raid at the premises of former Noida chief engineer Yadav Singh, CBI sleuths found, along with documentary proof of 38 properties, Rs 10 crore in cash. A long list of such cases can be put forward to stress how corrupt government officials and politicians have hoarded crores of rupees in cash, by selling out the entire system.

The common man might be having a tough day in dealing with the cash crunch, but it is the corrupt who are having sleepless nights. And it is evident in memes and jokes on demonetisation doing the rounds on WhatsApp and Facebook.

The best humour is often designed by sad realities.

On 8 November, former Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag supported Modi’s decision and tweeted:

In this context, it is fairly ironic that the real victims are not talked about. Sehwag’s wonderful homour was designed by the reality that the corrupt were having a gala time till 8 November.

Abhishek Waghmare, an analyst with IndiaSpend, in an article published on Firstpost,wrote, “The sudden announcement will directly affect black money hoarded by Indians, and will possibly present them two alternatives: either deposit the money after identifying themselves to banks, or exchange the money by 24 November, 2016. According to basic calculations, with a daily limit of Rs 4,000 a day, a maximum of Rs 60,000 can be exchanged by a person, in 15 days from 10 November to 24 November. From 24 November onwards, the exchange process will be eased for convenience, meaning the exchange limit will be increased. However, there is no limit on deposits”.

He added, “As the deadline for Indian individuals to declare undisclosed income — the Income Declaration Scheme — ended on 30 September, 2016, no ‘unaccounted for’ money can be declared now. It ceases to be money; instead it will be a ‘worthless piece of paper’, as (Modi) termed it in his speech”.

The extent of unaccounted wealth and black money is vast and it is no secret. Given this fact, just focusing on the problems faced by the people in the implementation of the demonetisation, and calling for its withdrawal is a perfect case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

First Published On : Nov 15, 2016 13:01 IST

Corruption and black money: Changes to anti-graft bill run contrary to SC judgments, UN Convention

The long standing tussle on the issue of protection of central government officials from investigating agencies, between the Supreme Court and successive central governments is likely to be renewed with the central government’s recent approval of the changes proposed in the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013. The changes are to be made in the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988. The amendment was initially introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2013 during UPA-II regime.

The contentious issue of making it mandatory for investigative agencies covered under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, (DSPEA) 1946 such as CBI to seek permission from central government before initiating investigations against central government employees, has been adjudged upon by the supreme court repeatedly in the past.

This provision covered under Section 6A was originally inserted in the DPSEA, 1946 by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act, 2003. Before this insertion a similar provision was contained in a directive called “Single Directive” which was issued by various ministries and departments to CBI regarding “modalities of initiating inquires or investigations against certain categories of civil servants”. All these provisions, amendments and directives have been proposed by successive governments on the premise of protecting important decision-making level officers from malicious and vexatious investigations and inquiries.

Representational image. APRepresentational image. AP

Representational image. AP

While in 1997 the Single Directive was quashed by the supreme court in the Vineet Narain and others vs Union of India judgment, only within a few months this provision was sought to be inserted by the Central Vigilance Commission Ordinance in 1998. This upon the intervention of the Supreme Court was deleted by issue of another ordinance a few more months later. In 2003 with the CVC act 2003 the provision was yet again sought to be inserted in the DSPEA which was challenged in 2004 citing the issue of constitutional validity of the provision. The issue makes for strange bedfellows in BJP as in 1997 current BJP MP Subramanian Swamy had also filed a writ challenging the constitutional validity of this section.

The validity of the section was challenged citing the Article 14 of the constitution guaranteeing fundamental right of “equality before the law”. The court in its 2004 order raised objections on the distinction made between decision making officers and others for the purpose of inquiry or investigation into an offence under the PC Act 1988. The court observed that with this provision “there will be no confidentiality and insulation of the investigating agency from political and bureaucratic control and influence because the approval is to be taken from the Central Government which would involve leaks and disclosures at every stage.” The bench added that any powers to make inference for initiating inquiry or investigation into any matter must rest with CBI itself without any external aid or advice.

It reiterated the “signature tune” from Vineet Narain case, “However high you may be, the law is above you.” The court also observed that Section 19 of the PC Act 1988 which bars any court from taking cognisance of corruption cases against public servants under relevant sections without the sanction from state or central governments respectively anyway protects public servants against undue harassments or vexations.

Besides these changes should also be seen in the light of certain key provisions of the ‘United Nations Convention Against Corruption’ which the Indian government ratified in 2011. Article 8 of the convention mandates ensuring disciplinary measures against corrupt public officials and article 36 says that necessary independence should be granted to investigating agencies working against corruption to carry out their functions “effectively and without any undue influence”. With the provision of seeking approval from the government for investigation against public employees made mandatory it appears prima facie that the clause of “necessary independence” has been compromised.

While the government is talking tough on the issue of corruption these days, this move seems to run counter to its own claims of coming down on corruption heavy-handedly. At the same time this being yet another attempt to introduce this provision in the anti-graft bill, which the Supreme Court has in the past taken serious objection to, the issue might yet again make it to the doors of the highest court of India and open another round of contention between the executive and the judiciary.

First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 15:35 IST

Demonetization bold and decisive step, but far from enough: Chinese media

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to demonetize high value currency notes as “startling and bold”, Chinese official media has said it is “far from enough” and India may “look at ideas” from China’s crackdown against corruption which has shown “efficiency”.Modi in “a startling and sudden move” demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes to “demonstrate that he is truly up for a fiercer fight against black money and corruption”, an op-ed article in the state-run Global Times said.”Modi means well and his decision was made based on the reality in India, since most illegal business in the underground economy is cash-only, and 500 and 1,000 rupee notes constitute over 80% of all cash circulation in India. Nevertheless, we can hardly count on the new rule to fully root out corruption,” the article titled ‘Beijing offers clues for Modi’s new anti-corruption moves’.Since Modi assumed office, he has carried out a number of measures to crack down on black money, corruption and tax evasion. However, many of them are believed to be “without teeth and can’t begin to scratch the surface of the problems he faces”, it said.India’s new policy to scrap high value notes is considered a “risky, but a bold and decisive step”, it said.”And yet, delivering a corruption-free country requires more than banning currency notes. The key should be reforming systems. In this regard, New Delhi might need to look for ideas from Beijing,” it said, referring to the massive anti- graft campaign carried out by President Xi Jinping in which over a million officials at different levels were punished.Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party in 2012, during which Xi was elected as its general secretary, and taking over as the President and military chief launched the anti-graft campaign which also attracted criticism that he used it effectively to consolidate his power emerging as the most powerful Chinese leader after party founder Mao Zedong.”Over the years, China promoted anti-corruption laws, improved the supervision system, deepened judicial system reforms and adopted measures to make sure the system is transparent,” it said without referring to criticism about the campaign.”For instance, China’s foreign ministry has lately published information about the families of 12 senior officials on its website in an effort to fight against corruption through familial networks by improvingtransparency. These steps are taken to ensure that achievements made in the struggle against corruption can be consolidated by laws and systems,” it said.China is still on its way toward building a comprehensive anti-corruption system. But “compared with India, Beijing’s method has already shown its efficiency”, it said.”More time is needed to see whether Modi’s new policy will turn into a huge blow against corruption in India. The hard truth is that the corrupt and fraudulent won’t just conduct shady deals by using cash, but with gold, real estate and overseas assets.”Corruption can be bred in a variety of ways. Blocking the circulation of large currency bills is without question far from enough,” it said.

Demonetisation: ‘VIP’ privileges should count as corruption too

I watched a clip online over the weekend. It showed a young woman carrying an infant, venting her anger while standing in a serpentine queue outside a bank. In the course of her tirade, she spoke of not having enough cash to buy vegetables. She was really angry.

A thought crossed my mind: If she were a ‘VIP’ living in a bungalow built by Lutyens, the young woman would have vegetables growing in a part of the back or side garden. She would even have an efficient maali (gardener) paid by the taxpayer to tend to those vegetables and the flowers in the flower beds on the side of the house and the lawn in front.

Come to think of it, the young woman would also have had the finest fruit, not to speak of nuts and sweets and cakes, brought as gifts by less important persons.

If she were a member of Parliament, she might even have convenient access to nicely priced fruit juice, coffee beans and tea leaves, not to speak of extremely nicely priced meals. But for that, she would have had to have had the wherewithal to get to become a very important person. But then, she would quite likely have been the son or daughter of one.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Of course I am all for rooting out corruption. I just wish we could also have a little less of the sort of nice little conveniences that very important people take for granted, and we don’t generally think of as corruption.

Misuse of free air and rail travel, for example.

Easy reservations too. I was to travel by train recently but, when I got to the station with my luggage, I was amazed to find that my booking was still on the wait-list, and so was to be treated as cancelled. I had been second on the waiting list when the ticket was purchased a couple of weeks before, and so I had presumed that the booking would have been confirmed by the time it came time to travel.

I went to the ticket inspector’s office to see if I could be accommodated. The man said it couldn’t be done. The coach was already chockablock with RACs (I had forgotten the category — reservation against cancellation). As I looked deflated, he said sympathetically that I should get a ‘VIP’ to help out next time, in case I knew one.

While it may be very laudable to get people to transact online or by plastic, it would be so very nice if we could also level the playing field for all citizens, including ‘VIPs’ and the owners of online operations. Could ‘VIPs’ also get into line please and pay like everyone else, the same prices and overhead costs as everyone else? Please? I was with a ‘VIP’ friend one morning recently and saw some houses that were all furnished, carpeted and set up. Apparently, that’s the way they are handed over to ‘VIPs’ — in the most swanky, easy-to-live areas of our otherwise polluted, congested cities.

Very nice.

But if we’re serious about cleaning out corruption, shouldn’t we take a brief moment to ask how much the taxpayer pays for all this?
Don’t get me wrong. I am, as I said, all for rooting out corruption. Let’s just expand our focus on what constitutes corruption a tiny bit.

First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 13:20 IST

ATM chaos, demonetisation scheme: Here are five things the government is doing to help you

The Ministry of Finance reviewed its position regarding the availability and distribution of all denominations of bank notes. According to a the ministry’s press release, in the first four days after the surprise announcement was made to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, about Rs three lac crores were deposited in the banking system and Rs 50,000 crore were dispensed to customers, by either withdrawal from their accounts at banks or from automated teller machines (ATMs). The banking system has handled transactions worth Rs 21 crore.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Reserve Bank of India and the finance ministry are coordinating with banks and post offices continuously in order to make notes of all denominations available at all locations. Banks have also been given special instructions to ensure that all denomination notes are distributed properly and to ensure the availability of small denomination notes. Chief secretaries of the states have been requested to identify the rural pockets, if any, where availability of cash has been a problem and provide all support to the banks and Post Offices in order to ensure the last mile distribution of small denomination of notes is done through mobile banking vans and Banking Correspondents(BCs).

The issuance of the new Rs 500 notes has already commenced.

Complaint redressal

The ministry and RBI have taken cognisance of the matter that certain business houses like hospitals, caterers etc. are not accepting cheques or demand drafts and are requesting online payment transfer from customers. In such cases, customers should make complaints to the district magistrates/district administration who will take suitable action against the service providers.

Mobile banking vans 

Government of Assam has arranged for Mobile Banking Vans with support of banks and state government staff at certain hospitals for carrying out emergency banking transactions. All banks have now been advised to arrange mobile banking vans to the extent possible at major hospitals to carry out emergency banking transaction for patients.

Senior citizens get separate queue

Banks are supposed to make separate queues for senior citizens and disabled persons. In addition to this, separate queues will also be arranged for exchange of cash to cash and transactions against bank accounts.

Increased limits on withdrawals 

Business correspondents can now withdraw up to Rs 2,500. Now, you can exchange Rs 4,500 from the existing Rs 4,000 over the counter. At re-calibrated ATMS, you can withdraw up to Rs 2,500 per day. Weekly limit of Rs 20,000 has now been increased to Rs 2,4000. The limit of Rs 10,000 per day has also been removed.

More mobile wallets and debit/credit cards 

Banks have been advised to increase the issuance and use of mobile wallets and debit/credit cards and to provide them to those customers and establishments not having access to these non-cash means of payment.

First Published On : Nov 13, 2016 21:05 IST

Narendra Modi addresses Indian diaspora in Japan, assures demonetisation wasn’t in haste

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said he was aware of the hardship people were facing in India because of the demonetisation move, but emphasised that it was necessary in the larger interests of the nation.

Addressing the Indian diaspora in Japan, Modi said people back home were hailing his decision of rendering Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes invalid but some of them were being prodded to speak against the government because of politics.

“I know it is difficult. People are made to speak against Modi but I salute the people… some stood in the queues for five hours, six hours but endured the hardship. The same way as people in Japan endured in 2011,” he said, referring the earthquake-triggered tsunami five years ago that hit Japan.

He said the government had not taken the decision on demonetisation in haste. “We had given 50 days to people to show their unaccounted wealth till September,” before the government decided to render the large currency bills illegal tender.

He warned the black-money hoarders that there is no guarantee that they would not have to take more steps after the end of this scheme, to hide their money.

Modi’s speech was in response to the allegations made by opposing parties who have questioned Modi’s scheme and his strike on the ‘poor of the nation’.

With inputs from IANS

First Published On : Nov 12, 2016 13:52 IST

Winter Session of Parliament: Surrogacy regulation and GST related bills to be introduced

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as nine new bills, including three related to GST, and surrogacy regulation will be introduced in Parliament in upcoming Winter Session.The three GST related bills are — Central Goods and Services Tax Bill, Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill, Goods and Services Tax (Compensation for Loss of Revenue) Bill will be introduced in the session.Winter Session of Parliament will begin from November 16. Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill will be introduced to constitute national surrogacy board, state surrogacy boards and appointment of appropriate authorities for regulation of the practice and process of surrogacy and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.Besides these, six other bills will be introduced including IIM bill to confer Indian Institutes of Managements (IIM) statutory status and the competence to award degrees. While HIV AIDS Prevention and Control bill, Mental Health Care bill, Maternity Benefit Amendment bill, Prevention of Corruption (amendment) bill and Consumer Protection bill will be taken up for consideration and passing as these bills have already been introduced in the Parliament.Mental Health Care bill, Maternity Benefit Amendment bill were passed by Rajya Sabha and are pending in Lok Sabha.While, Consumer Protection bill, and HIV, AIDS Prevention and Control bill were referred to the standing committees and Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) bill was referred to the select committee, according to Lok Sabha bulletin.

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 ban: Here are today’s most pertinent questions… and answers

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 ban: Here are today’s most pertinent questions… and answers

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In the biggest-ever move to curb black money, and crime funding Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday night announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes would become illegal tenders from midnight that very day and massively curbed cash withdrawals through ATMs and from bank counters.

“In order to meet the anticipated heavy demand from members of the public to conduct their banking transactions, it has been decided that banks shall remain open for public transactions on Saturday, 12 November, and Sunday, 13 November, 2016,” RBI said in a statement.

Got any questions of your own? Let us know in the comments section.

With inputs from PTI

Rs 500, Rs 1000 note ban: Who will take care of pensioners and those with medical needs?

This is personal. I have a sister residing in RK Puram in New Delhi, who is confined to her bed for the past seven years because she is suffering from multiple sclerosis. She requires full time nursing and cannot sign any papers or mark her thumbprint on a cheque.

She is bright, cheerful and was a former teacher at Modern School. Ask her how she is and she will say ‘fit and fine’.

But her finances, following the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 note ban by the Modi government on Tuesday, are in a dire state. She is left with exactly Rs 200 in cash as of now, and the Rs 10,000 withdrawn in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations by her staff last week, is of no value and has to be returned to the bank. Even then, as I panic, she remains cool.

The Modi government put a note ban on the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations on Tuesday. ReutersThe Modi government put a note ban on the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations on Tuesday. Reuters

The Modi government put a note ban on the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations on Tuesday. Reuters

The bank just told one my staff that he would have to produce his identification in order to exchange the demonetised currency, so he has to stand in the ever-expanding queues once again. This particular bank has dealt with him more or less every day for the past six years. The bank wants my sister’s ID as well. If a new employee happens to take up my sister’s case, he might just ask that she be pulled out of her bed, shoved into a wheelchair and dragged all the way to the bank because, in his bureaucratic warren of a mind, he might reason that, ‘kya kare, government ka kanoon hain (what can we do, the government makes the rules).’

You can hear the words, that corrosive indifference that marks this clan. It has happened.

The queue of retired and senior citizens stretches for almost fifty metres outside the bank. Some of them can hardly stand.

I am no economist and am ready to agree with experts when they say that with this move, all the back money will be ferreted out and that we will dance into the sunshine; but, at this moment, living in another country, I really do not care a toss about the rose petals we shall strew en route. I just need my sister to get some money.

I have no faith in the bedside manner of the banking system, where the staff treat clients and customers like dirt and behave as if it is their money that they are doling out. They just say ‘kal aao’ and ‘Form C bharo’ and ‘yeh galat hai’. I truly believe that we as a society can never be seen as civilised until we start respecting our elderly and the infirm and those with special needs. In this case, we can start by at least letting them jump the queue.

I don’t know if Prime Minister Modi and his advisers planned this move well in advance or thought of the details along the way, but in the frenzy that we are seeing and the echo of the mutual backslapping between politicians and media since the announcement, I am not so sure about its efficacy. The bridge between the assurance that money will be disbursed in 24 hours and its fruition is a very rickety one.

Add to it the human factor (especially bank employees who don’t give a damn) and the permutations on how to eradicate the viral infection of black money are replaced by a sense of despair at the lack of options, and the absence of a back-up system.

The way things stand at the moment, I cannot see a smooth transition into the new currency anytime soon.

The corrupt and the venal will get the first shot at the exchange and must already be bending over backwards to thwart the new system. If there is a loophole, they will find it.

All I am thinking about is what of the medicines. The pharmacies are not taking the demonetised notes. You can say that they will, you can even tell us that you can die and the shamshan ghat will take your money, but what if they don’t?

If you call for an ambulance and tell them that you will pay in Rs 1,000 notes, don’t hold your breath for the sound of a siren.

Three pharmacies so far have refused to give medicines in exchange for the demonetised currency. With the general lack of knowledge and uncertainty, they won’t even take credit cards now and simply offer a ready made excuse: ‘lines blocked hain’.

How and where can we report such a pharmacy, that won’t take the money. To whom? How? What will happen after that? If we can post 10,000 cops on the road for a VIP motorcade, then why can’t we post them at hospitals, crematoriums, pharmacies and banks to ensure that the government’s grand pronouncements have validity.

By now, I must have spent a mini-fortune in making calls to Delhi. I shudder to imagine a scenario where someone who needs insulin for diabetes or cardiac medicine cannot buy it.

I am not whining, I am just stressed. It is wonderful to make in-depth fiscal comments and be interviewed on TV and have the media appreciate the note ban, but the sacrifice that people were asked to make in the process should not jeopardise those who are fragile or place the common man into a corner for no fault of his own.

At this moment, all those big buzzwords of the fiscal world like ‘asset value reserves’ and ‘collaborative consumption’ and ‘firefighting inflation’ mean nothing. Not that they ever did but really, the Rs 200 won’t last long. So, all that I want to know now is that when will my sister get her dues, and when will she be able to use her pension.

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 currency ban LIVE: Banks reopen, people make a beeline to deposit notes

Nov 10, 2016

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New Delhi: High denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 will no longer be legal tender from midnight of 8 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced as he declared a “decisive” war against black money and corruption while disclosing a raft of steps to assure commoners that their money is safe.

In his first televised address to the nation two-and-a-half-years after assuming office, he announced a 50-day window from November 10 to December 30 for those having these notes to deposit them in their bank and post office accounts “without any limit”.

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

He also said that new notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500, with completely new design, will be introduced. Officials said such notes have already been reached to banks to prepare for their circulation from 10 November.

“Based on past experience, the RBI will hereafter make arrangements to limit the share of high denomination notes in the total currency in circulation,” Modi said.

Banks will remain closed tomorrow and ATMs will also not function tomorrow and in some places on 10 November also.

In the first few days, there will be a withdrawal limit of Rs 2,000 per day per ATM card. This will be raised to Rs 4,000 later.

Similarly, keeping in mind the supply of new notes, in the first few days, there will be a limit of Rs 10,000 per day and Rs 20,000 per week. This limit will be increased in the coming days.

Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes can also be exchanged for lower denomination currency at bank counters and select post offices till November 24 with a cap of Rs 4000 per day. From November 25, the cap will be raised.

Banks will open additional counters and work for additional hours to deal with the rush of people wanting to deposit or change notes.

There may be some who, for some reason, are not able to deposit their old Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 notes by December 30, 2016, he said, adding they can go to specified offices of the RBI up to March 31, 2017 and deposit the notes after submitting a declaration form.

Officials said there were 6.7 billion pieces of Rs 1,000 notes in circulation and 16.5 billion pieces of Rs 500.

In his address, first in Hindi and later in English, Modi, whose government had implemented two schemes for unearthing of black money both domestic and abroad, said Rs 1.25 lakh crore belonging to the “corrupt” people has already been brought out in the open.

“There comes a time in the history of a country’s development when a need is felt for a strong and decisive step,” he said, asking political parties, all governments, social organisations and media to participate in the war against black money “with enthusiasm to make it a success”.

He conceded that there could some inconvenience to people in implementing the measures and asked them to bear with it.

The notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 “will not be legal tender from midnight tonight” and these will be “just worthless piece of paper,” Modi said.

However, he said that all notes in lower denomination of Rs 100, Rs 50, Rs 20, Rs 10, Rs 5, Rs 2 and Re 1 and all coins will continue to be valid.

“To break the grip of corruption and black money, we have decided that the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes presently in use will no longer be legal tender from midnight tonight, that is 8th November 2016. This means that these notes will not be acceptable for transactions from midnight onwards.

“The Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes hoarded by anti-national and anti-social elements will become just worthless pieces of paper,” the Prime Minister said.

“The rights and the interests of honest, hard-working people will be fully protected. Let me assure you that notes of Rs 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and one rupee and all coins will remain legal tender and will not be affected,” he added.

Noting that there will be 50 days to deposit the demonetised notes, Modi said, “there is no need for panic. Your money will remain yours. You need have no worry on this point. After depositing your money in your account, you can draw it when you need it.”

Elaborating on the need for the measures, Modi said in the past decades, the spectre of corruption and black money has grown and has weakened the effort to remove poverty.

“On the one hand, we are now No. 1 in the rate of economic growth. But on the other hand, we were ranked close to 100 in the global corruption perceptions ranking two years back. In spite of many steps taken, we have only been able to reach a ranking of 76 now. Of course, there is improvement. This shows the extent to which corruption and black money have spread their tentacles,” he said.

He said the evil of corruption has been spread by certain sections of society for their selfish interest. “They have ignored the poor and cornered benefits. Some people have misused their office for personal gain. On the other hand, honest people have fought against this evil,” he said.

Modi also linked black money to terrorism, saying, “enemies from across the border run their operations using fake currency notes. This has been going on for many years. Many times, those using fake Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes have been caught and many such notes have been seized”.

He said honest citizens want this fight against corruption, black money, benami property, terrorism and counterfeiting to continue. “Which honest citizen would not be pained by reports of crores worth of currency notes stashed under the beds of government officers? Or by reports of cash found in gunny bags,” he asked. “This step will strengthen the hands of the common man in the fight against corruption, black money and fake currency,” he said, adding “to minimise the difficulties of citizens in the coming days, several steps are being taken.”

The Rs 1,000 notes are being withdrawn after being in circulation for 16 years while Rs 500 note was re-introduced in 1987. The higher denomination currency notes were withdrawn, first in 1946 but re-introduced in 1954 and again demonetised in 1978.

“For humanitarian reasons, to reduce hardship to citizens, some special arrangements have been made for the first 72 hours, that is till midnight on 11th November,” the Prime Minister said.

During this period, government hospitals will continue to accept Rs 500 and thousand rupee notes for payment. “This is for the benefit of those families whose members may be unwell,” Modi said. Pharmacies in government hospitals will also accept these notes for buying medicines with doctors’ prescription.

For 72 hours, till midnight on 11 November, railway ticket booking counters, ticket counters of government buses and airline ticket counters at airports will accept the old notes for purchase of tickets. This is for the benefit of those who may be travelling at this time.

For 72 hours, Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes will be accepted also at petrol, diesel and CNG gas stations authorised by public sector oil companies, consumer co-operative stores authorised by state or central government, milk booths authorised by state governments, crematoria and burial grounds.

These outlets will have to keep proper records of stock and collections. Arrangements will be made at international airports for arriving and departing passengers who have Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 notes of not more than Rs 5,000, to exchange them for new notes or other legal tender.

Foreign tourists will be able to exchange foreign currency or old notes of not more than Rs 5,000 into legal tender. “I want to stress that in this entire exercise, there is no restriction of any kind on non-cash payments by cheques, demand drafts, debit or credit cards and electronic fund transfer,” Modi said.

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes banned: Roots of demonetisation in India can be traced to Gujarat

Historically, the demonetisation of currency notes in India has been invariably linked to Gujarat and its politicians. In 1978, when the Morarji Desai government had decided to invalidate the currency notes of Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 denomination, the then Finance Ministry was headed by a strong-headed civil servant from Gujarat – Haribhai M Patel.

Patel had served India’s first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel for a long time. His no-nonsense demeanour endeared him to an equally taut prime minister in Desai. Incidentally, Desai, in his role as chief minister of the state of Bombay (a large state created at the time of Independence which comprised of present day Maharashtra and Gujarat) and Patel, as a civil servant, were aware of people’s fascination with cash in their home state.

In the post-Emergency phase, the Janata Party essentially rode on the popular wave against corruption and nepotism in the Congress party, and on the authoritarianism of Indira Gandhi. In people’s perception, the Janata Party was mandated to end corruption in high places by initiating some radical measures, as promised before the polls.

In 1978, the Morarji Desai government had decided to invalidate the currency notes of Rs 1000, Rs 5000 and Rs 10000. The roots of demonetisation can be traced to Gujarat. PTIIn 1978, the Morarji Desai government had decided to invalidate the currency notes of Rs 1000, Rs 5000 and Rs 10000. The roots of demonetisation can be traced to Gujarat. PTI

In 1978, the Morarji Desai government had decided to invalidate the currency notes of Rs 1000, Rs 5000 and Rs 10000. PTI

Though he held a pro-capitalist and liberal view of the economy, Desai was absolutely intolerant towards corruption and criminals in politics. At the instance of Patel, Desai agreed to go ahead with the ban on currency notes of Rs 1,000 and above in denomination.

There is a world of difference, however, between the demonetisation of 1978 and now. The middle class in 1978 was not only sparse but also lived mostly within the modest income bracket. A large section of this class had no access to high denomination currency notes, that began with Rs 1,000 and went up to Rs 10,000.

Much of the currency notes of high denomination in those times were stocked by businessmen. In Kanpur, and several other trading centres, reports emerged that businessmen, instead of declaring their black money in the banks, were using the currency as waste paper. Since the quantity of this high denomination currency was very limited, such stories made for great headlines.

Contrast this with today’s situation, and you will quickly realise the difference. Notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations are much more prevalent than even the smaller currency notes. In ATMs across the country, high denomination notes are the only available legal tender and this has practically pushed the smaller denominations out of circulation. With the preponderance of higher denomination currency, it became normal to transact in these notes across the social spectrum.

The most sinister aspect of the dominance of higher currency notes, however, pertained to the growth of terrorism and the spurt in corruption. For instance, Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) took advantage of the situation by introducing a large chunk of counterfeit currencies all over the country – to fund terrorism and spread radicalisation.

A special cell of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), that deals with counterfeit currency, came across many instances where bags of fake notes were being pushed from Bangladesh into India – in West Bengal and the North Eastern states – in order to finance insurgency. Despite the best efforts of the Indian security agencies, it seems that it is rather impossible to purge the economy of counterfeit currencies without employing such a drastic measure.

A much deeper malaise was also evident in politics, where corruption effectively subverted the system. Recall the US diplomat’s cables that were revealed on WikiLeaks, exposing the cash for vote scam at the fag end of Manmohan Singh’s term as prime minister. The US diplomat recounted how he was shown boxes full of cash, to be used as bribes for members of Parliament.

Similarly, there were stories of machines being used in Noida and Lucknow by agents of political parties, to count the notes received in suitcases and bags as bribes. Much of these stories are based on credible evidence. The unsavoury episode in February involving the arrest of Noida’s chief engineer, Yadav Singh, on malfeasance was a symptom of this very syndrome.

In the present political context, Modi’s bold move of demonetisation entailed a great risk. The BJP’s capacity to raise funds for the upcoming elections would be grossly limited in view of these restrictions. Like other parties, the BJP is as much infected by black money and corruption. Similarly, in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, where Assembly elections are due shortly, the ban on currency notes would go against the grain of traders who have the tendency of stocking money.

The move is bound to evoke a strong sense of hostility from a powerful moneyed section of Gujarat. But this is not the first time that Modi would be ranged against the influential and moneyed sections in Gujarat. A veteran of many such battles, Modi knows how to turn the tide.

Much has changed between 1978 and 2016. Modi, though a Gujarati, is now far more pragmatic and powerful in realpolitik than Desai, who was constantly weighed down by satraps like Charan Singh and his acolytes.

Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes scrapped: Govt releases FAQ to help you make sense of it all

1. Why is this scheme (in place)?
The incidence of fake Indian currency notes in higher denomination has increased. For ordinary persons, the fake notes look similar to genuine notes, even though no security feature has been copied. The fake notes are used for anti-national and illegal activities. High denomination notes have been misused by terrorists and for hoarding black money. India remains a cash based economy hence the circulation of Fake Indian Currency Notes continues to be a menace. In order to contain the rising incidence of fake notes and black money, the scheme to withdraw has been introduced.

2. What is this scheme?
The legal tender character of the notes in denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 stands withdrawn. In consequence thereof withdrawn old high denomination (OHD) notes cannot be used for transacting business and/or store of value for future usage. The OHD notes can be exchanged for value at any of the 19 offices of the Reserve Bank of India or at any of the bank branches or at any Head Post Office or Sub-Post Office.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

3. How much value will I get?
You will get value for the entire volume of notes tendered at the bank branches / RBI offices.

4. Can I get all in cash?
No. You will get upto Rs 4,000 per person in cash irrespective of the size of tender and anything over and above that will be receivable by way of credit to bank account.

5. Why I cannot get the entire amount in cash when I have surrendered everything in cash?
The Scheme of withdrawal of old high denomination (OHD) notes does not provide for it, given its objectives.

6. Rs 4000 cash is insufficient for my need. What to do?
You can use balances in bank accounts to pay for other requirements by cheque or through electronic means of payments such as Internet banking, mobile wallets, IMPS, credit/debit cards etc.

7. What if I don’t have any bank account?
You can always open a bank account by approaching a bank branch with necessary documents required for fulfilling the KYC requirements.

8. What if, if I have only JDY account?
A JDY account holder can avail the exchange facility subject to the caps and other laid down limits in accord with norms and procedures.

9. Where can I go to exchange the notes?
The exchange facility is available at all Issue Offices of RBI and branches of commercial banks/RRBS/UCBs/State Co-op banks or at any Head Post Office or Sub-Post Office.

10. Need I go to my bank branch only?
For exchange upto Rs 4,000 in cash you may go to any bank branch with valid identity proof.

For exchange over Rs 4,000, which will be accorded through credit to Bank account only, you may go to the branch where you have an account or to any other branch of the same bank.

In case you want to go to a branch of any other bank where you are not maintaining an account, you will have to furnish valid identity proof and bank account details required for electronic fund transfer to your account.

11. Can I go to any branch of my bank?
Yes you can go to any branch of your bank.

12. Can I go to any branch of any other bank?
Yes, you can go to any branch of any other bank. In that case you have to furnish valid identity proof for exchange in cash; both valid identity proof and bank account details will be required for electronic fund transfer in case the amount to be exchanged exceeds Rs 4,000.

13. I have no account but my relative/friend has an account, can I get my notes exchanged into that account?
Yes, you can do that if the account holder relative/friend etc gives you permission in writing. While exchanging, you should provide to the bank, evidence of permission given by the account holder and your valid identity proof.

14. Should I go to bank personally or can I send the notes through my representative?
Personal visit to the branch is preferable. In case it is not possible for you to visit the branch you may send your representative with an express mandate i.e. a written authorisation. The representative should produce authority letter and his/her valid identity proof while tendering the notes.

15. Can I withdraw from ATM?
It may take a while for the banks to recalibrate their ATMs. Once the ATMs are functional, you can withdraw from ATMs upto a maximum of Rs 2,000 per card per day upto 18 November, 2016. The limit will be raised to Rs 4,000 per day per card from 19 November, 2016 onwards.

16. Can I withdraw cash against cheque?
Yes, you can withdraw cash against withdrawal slip or cheque subject to ceiling of Rs 10,000 in a day within an overall limit of Rs 20,000 in a week (including withdrawals from ATMs) for the first fortnight ie upto 24 November, 2016.

17. Can I deposit withdrawn notes through ATMs, Cash Deposit Machine or cash Recycler?
Yes, OHD notes can be deposited in Cash Deposits machines / Cash Recyclers.

18. Can I make use of electronic (NEFT/RTGS /IMPS/ Internet Banking / Mobile banking etc.) mode?
You can use NEFT/RTGS/IMPS/Internet Banking/Mobile Banking or any other electronic/ non-cash mode of payment.

19. How much time do I have to exchange the notes?
The scheme closes on 30 December, 2016. The OHD banknotes can be exchanged at branches of commercial banks, Regional Rural Banks, Urban Cooperative banks, State Cooperative Banks and RBI till 30 December, 2016.

For those who are unable to exchange their Old High Denomination Banknotes on or before 30 December, 2016, an opportunity will be given to them to do so at specified offices of the RBI, along with necessary documentation as may be specified by the Reserve Bank of India.

20. I am right now not in India, what should I do?
If you have OHD banknotes in India, you may authorise in writing enabling another person in India to deposit the notes into your bank account. The person so authorised has to come to the bank branch with the OHD banknotes, the authority letter given by you and a valid identity proof (Valid Identity proof is any of the following: Aadhaar Card, Driving License, Voter ID Card, Pass Port, NREGA Card, PAN Card, Identity Card Issued by Government Department, Public Sector Unit to its Staff)

21. I am an NRI and hold NRO account, can the exchange value be deposited in my account?
Yes, you can deposit the OHD banknotes to your NRO account.

22. I am a foreign tourist, I have these notes. What should I do?
You can purchase foreign exchange equivalent to Rs 5,000 using these OHD notes at airport exchange counters within 72 hours after the notification, provided you present proof of purchasing the OHD notes.

23. I have emergency needs of cash (hospitalisation, travel, life saving medicines) then what I should do?
You can use the OHD notes for paying for your hospitalisation charges at government hospitals, for purchasing bus tickets at government bus stands for travel by state government or state PSU buses, train tickets at railway stations, and air tickets at airports, within 72 hours after the notification.

24. What is proof of identity?
Valid Identity proof is any of the following: Aadhaar Card, Driving License, Voter ID Card, Pass Port, NREGA Card, PAN Card, Identity Card Issued by Government Department, Public Sector Unit to its Staff.

25. Where can I get more information on this scheme?
Further information is available at our website (www.rbi.org.in)

Read the Government of India’s press release below:

Press Cancellation High Denomination Notes by Firstpost on Scribd

Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banned: Denizens laud move but complain about ATM queues

Following the government’s decision and PM Modi’s announcement that the currencies in the denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 will be invalid post 8 November, there is a sudden surge of people visiting shops and markets to confirm the validity of the aforementioned notes.

Many of these people spoke to Firstpost in Delhi and shared their apprehensions regarding their immediate move concerning the currency. While they are concerned about the government’s ban, they laud Modi’s decision as a major blow on those who have stacked black money in their homes.

“It is a very smart move by Prime Minister Modi. No one had any clue of this. I feel this is meant to stop the corruption and strike on black money that this step has been taken. Though people might face problems for some days but its longer term implications will be very good. People are no doubt having trouble buying grocery and other things or taking an auto rickshaw but I think this is just a short term problem,” said Anant an IT professional living near Akshardham.

He added, “If you look at the bright side this will be good for us only. I am just amused that people who have hoarded black money will have heart attack tonight.”

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Prem Kumar, an auto rickshaw driver said, “We poor people are very happy. Why should we be concerned? We earn every day and spend every day. It is politicians and big officer who earn so much ‘kala dhan’ who need to worry. I think they have to burn that black money as fuel this winter.”

Phalguni, a student who is facing problem since she withdrew some 500 rupee notes only this evening, feels that the long term implications of this decision will be good.

“I would say it is a good move but it will be good for majority of us. Black money is a serious issue this move is major blow to it. It will bring out the black money hidden in quilts and sofas of many people. I think such decisive moves are required to curb corruption”, said Rakesh, an elderly citizen.

While most people laud this move, some express their apprehension and discomfort since the available currency of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 isn’t being accepted by shopkeepers.

Kirti, a resident of Mayur Vihar extension said, “I have to buy medicines but the chemist is not accepting the cash I have. Government should have given us time before taking this extreme step.”

People are lining up outside ATMs and are seen withdrawing cash in figures like Rs 400 so that they can get 100 rupee notes.

The move to ban Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes was announced in a sudden address at 8 pm that was televised across all news channels. The demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes is a major assault on black money hoarders, fake currency and corruption.

All notes in lower denomination of Rs 100, Rs 50, Rs 20, Rs 10, Rs 5, Rs 2 and Re 1 and all coins will continue to be valid. Government also announced that new notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 will be introduced.

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 banned: How banks and ATMs will function in next few days

Taking the nation by surprise, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes with effect from midnight, making these notes invalid in a major assault on black money, fake currency and corruption.

In his first televised address to the nation, Modi said people holding notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 can deposit the same in their bank and post office accounts from 10 November till 30 December.

In his 40-minute address, PM said the notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 “will not be legal tender from midnight tonight” and these will be “just worthless piece of paper.”

PM Modi announced, ATM withdrawals will be restricted to Rs 2,000 per day in the initial days and this limit will be raised to Rs 4,000 later. Withdrawals from bank accounts will be limited to Rs 10,000 a day and Rs 20,000 a week.

Banks will remain closed on Wednesday and some ATMs will also not function on Wednesday and Thursday as RBI stocks banks and ATM machines with lower denomination notes.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

This means that the public will have to visit ATMs which supply currency with lower denomination before Wednesday morning. Online transactions are unaffected as there are no restrictions of any kind on non-cash payments by cheques, demand drafts, debit or credit cards and electronic fund transfer.

Public can exchange their Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes with lower denomination currency notes at designated banks and post offices on production of valid government identity cards like PAN, Aadhaar and Election Card from 10 November to 24 November with a daily limit of Rs 4,000.

Those unable to deposit Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes till 30 December this year can do so in designated RBI offices till 31 March next year after filling a declaration form along with proof and reasons.

Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes will be valid for transactions related to booking of air tickets, railway bookings, government bus ticket counters and hospitals till the midnight of 11 and 12 November.

With inputs from agencies

Will PM Modi follow Sonia Gandhi’s example by empowering citizens in fight against corruption?

It is heartening to know that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has chosen ‘public participation in promoting integrity and eradicating corruption’ as the theme for the Vigilance Awareness Week this year, starting from 31 October (till 5 November).

The Commission, in its circular dated 19 September, said: “Aware, active, involved and empowered public is essential to any anti-corruption campaign…the fight against corruption cannot be won without the citizens’ support.”

The move is heartening because it is increasingly becoming clearer that the only way the fight against corruption in India can be won is by empowering its citizens – as measures of checks and balances within the government to minimise the corruption have all but failed.

Take the example of the CVC itself. It is handicapped in tackling the widespread menace because of its mandate. As it mentions in one of its reports, tilted ‘The Indian Administrative Service: a study of the current state of punitive and preventive vigilance mechanism’, “An important finding that emerged in the earlier part of this study relates to the fact that currently the state governments are required to report to the Central government (and the Commission) cases only where they propose to impose the penalty of dismissal, removal or compulsory retirement,”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Fight against corruption. Image courtesy News18Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Fight against corruption. Image courtesy News18

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Image courtesy News18

“It would seem that rule seven of the All India Services (D&A) Rules, 1966 needs to be amended so as to make a reference to the Commission mandatory in all cases where state governments propose to impose any penalty in a case with a vigilance angle,” the report said. It is self-evident that the CVC is hobbled by its statutory limitations.

Then there are other statutory bodies, such as the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), which examines year after year if the government expenses are incurred as per the norms and the guidelines.

But, unfortunately, the CAG is a toothless body; it can bark but cannot bite. The government machinery is too thick-skinned to respond to mere indictments. The governments mostly remain in denial mode as far as issues of corruption are concerned.

Because of the limited success of such statutory bodies, there came up a public demand for institutionalisation of an autonomous body, like the Lokpal, with punitive powers to punish an officer or a department of the government for corruption.

The Congress government initially strongly resisted the demands of the Anna Hazare-led movement, India Against Corruption – to set up a powerful Lokpal with judicial powers – but when they had to concede to the demands because of public pressure, it sought to dilute some of the stringent provisions demanded by the Anna campaign. Nevertheless, the Congress government deserved the credit for passing the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act in 2013.

But within the span of a year, during 2014-15, the Congress lost power in Delhi – in the Centre as well as the state. The Narendra Modi government, which came into power at the Centre, decided to amend the law and accordingly introduced the Lokpal and Lokayuktas and other related Law (Amendment ) Bill in the Lok Sabha in 2014 December. Since then, it is in a state of limbo.

Arvind Kejriwal, who became the chief minister of Delhi in 2015, was a close associate of Anna, but he too passed a Jan Lokpal bill which was a far cry from the original bill that he and Anna had mooted in 2011.

That just goes to prove that any party or leader in power will scuttle any attempt to make itself accountable to an external agency. That is precisely why it is important to explore the possibility of empowering citizens to contain corruption.

The government would usually frown at the idea of empowering the citizens to ask for accountability; but the Congress government, which came to power in 2004 (contrary to the poll predictions), was magnanimous (it has more to do with the initiative of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who had declined the offer to become the prime minister and had occupied the moral high ground) in enacting the Right to Information Act in 2005.

The RTI Act is the most potent instrument in the hands of an ordinary citizen to make the government accountable. Only a tiny fraction of citizens of India are using RTI now, to great effect. Imagine the impact it will have if an overwhelming majority of Indians use the RTI Act to seek damning information from the government; the shenanigans of all governments, both at the state and the Centre, would be verily exposed on a day-to-day basis. That would go a long way in curbing the corrupt practices.

Another noteworthy initiative of the Congress government was the Whistleblower’s Protection (WPB) Act,  which was enacted to enable a citizen to expose the misdeeds of a government while enjoying legal protection from physical harm or judicial harassment.

This bill was passed by the parliament and received the assent of the President on 9 May, 2014. But, before it could be notified, the elections were held and Congress lost power.

The BJP government which had supported the bill in parliament ought to have framed the rules to operationalise the WBP Act, but instead, it decided to move an amended bill in parliament with a view of diluting the stringent provisions of the Act (to remove safeguards available to whistleblowers from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act). The amended bill was passed in Lok Sabha in May 2015. The bill is stuck in the Rajya Sabha since.

On 28 April, 2016, while replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, Jitendra Singh, MoS, Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), stated that the Whistleblowers Protection Amendment Bill is still pending with a committee.

But in a reply to a question by Anjali Bhardwaj, the well-known RTI activist, the Rajya Sabha secretariat replied on 16 August, 2016, that, “The Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015, as passed by Lok Sabha, is pending in the Rajya Sabha. This Bill is not pending with any Parliamentary Committee at present”.

What does this suggest? Either the minister was ill-informed (even while replying to questions in parliament) or he was deliberately misleading the August house. This attitude reflects the government’s intent regarding the bill.

Another casualty of the indifference of the government is the grievance redressal law. The ‘Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances’ Bill was introduced in parliament by the UPA government in 2011. But it could not be passed before the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha, as it had to go through several committees of the parliament.

Through an order in June 2014, after the NDA government came to power, the PMO instructed the Department of Personnel & Training and the Department of Administrative Reforms to expedite action for the passage of the law.

Though by March 2016, according to a Business Standard report, “the government told parliament that it was not looking at legal justiciable rights for delivery of services but had ‘prepared’ only a government scheme that would allow administrative action in case of deficiency in delivering services. The fate of this, too, now remains unclear.”

Sonia will go down in history as someone who made the Indian democracy look vibrant by empowering the citizens through an effective, no-nonsense RTI Act. She masterminded the passage of the bill, despite apprehensions in the upper echelons in the Congress-led government.

Modi now has the chance to make history if he can overcome the resistance of the vested interests in his party and the government, and if he can ensure that the Lokpal Act, the Whistleblowers Protection Act and the Redressal of Grievance Act are passed without further delay. That will make the ordinary Indian citizen the fulcrum of a truly participatory democracy.

The only thing that remains to be seen now is whether Modi will follow Sonia’s example?

Vigilance conducts raids against senior Kerala IAS officer

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kerala Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau on Friday conducted searches at the residential premises of senior IAS officer Tom Jose here and in Kochi in connection with a disproportionate assets case.Besides two flats owned by Jose, the searches were being conducted at his wife’s house in Irinjalakudu also, Vigilance sources said, adding the action was being taken after obtaining a search warrant. The action was initiated this morning following registration of an FIR against Jose, who is the Principal Labour Secretary, on a complaint by one Payichira Nawaz filed in the Vigilance Special Court at Muvattupuzha in Kochi, they said.Dubbing the searches as a ‘deliberate attempt to humiliate me,” Jose said the allegations, being raised now, were inquired and closed much earlier.All these issues were examined by the Home Secretary much earlier. “I had given my property statement from 2010. There is nothing new.”The Vigilance sources said the ‘house search’ was conducted after it was found that the official had “amassed” assets about 62% more than his income. Vigilance had last month decided to conduct a confidential verification into the allegations raised by the complainant about various assets of Jose, including the purchase of a rubber estate at a cost of about Rs 1.23 crore at Sindudurg in Maharashtra. Jose, who had met Chief Secretary S M Vijayanand yesterday, said, “we had discussed all these issues.” Jose, who is also the President of the Kerala IAS Officers’ Association, said the searches were being conducted as a ‘retaliatory action’ to ‘malign’ him.”The (earlier) enquiry against me was conducted by State Home Secretary, who is a very responsible officer,” he said. Jose said there was nothing “unanatural” in the deal.The searches against Jose come a day after Finance Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary K M Abraham lodged a complaint with Chief Minister Pinaravyi Vijayan that Vigilance carried out an ‘inspection’ at his home here. Abraham has alleged that state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau Director Jacob Thomas was acting “vengefully” against him.

Louis Berger case: Ex-CM Digambar Kamat among 7 listed in charge sheet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police on Thursday filed charge sheet in the Louis Berger pay-off scandal naming senior Congress leader and former Goa chief minister Digambar Kamat as the “prime conspirator”.Six others, including the then PWD minister Churchill Alemao, were also listed in the charge sheet in the scam in which the US firm has been charged with bribing Indian officials to win two water developmental projects in Goa and Guwahati. The charge sheet, running into around 1,000 pages, was filed by Crime Branch before special court.Police also named Louis Berger official James McClung, former India Vice-President of the company Satyakam Mohanty, head of (Japan International Cooperation Agency) JICA-aided project in Goa Anand Wachasunder, suspected Hawala dealer Raychand Soni and former Margao municipal council chairperson Arthur D’Silva.The accused are charged under section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information to screen offender), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC, and under sections 7,8 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.On July 21, 2015, the Crime Branch had registered an FIR against unknown ministers of then Congress government of 2010.The alleged bribery had come to light after Louis Berger company admitted to the violations under US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and agreed to pay penalty of USD 17.1 million to resolve the charge that it had bribed foreign officials. The Rs 1,031-crore project, funded by JICA, was approved when the Digamber Kamat government was in power for augmenting water supply in south Goa and laying sewerage lines in the state’s major cities.Louis Berger was part of a consultancy consortium appointed by two Japanese firms and an Indian partner for managing USD 311 million Goa Water Supply and Sewerage Project awarded in 2009. Crime branch had interrogated Kamat many times during the probe. He had secured anticipatory bail from local court on August 19, 2015.Alemao was arrested on August 5, 2015 after he was called by crime branch officials to record his statement. In the interim charge sheet filed on September 29 last year, police charged Alemao and others under various sections of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act.Kamat’s name was not included in that charge sheet though he was shown as a suspect. In the charge sheet filed today, crime branch has termed Kamat as the prime conspirator.”Kamat was instrumental in aiding then PWD minister Churchill Alemao in formation of different committees by approving the same for JICA project, contrary to JICA guidelines. Prime conspirator Digambar Kamat is also the criminal conspirator in concealing the main noting file of awarding JICA consultancy in Goa in connivance with other co-accused Alemao in order to hide the notings in the main file which would put light on the misdeeds of accused Wachasunder,” the charge sheet stated.

Delhi CM Kejriwal crossed limits of decency by ‘Thulla’ remark: Delhi HC told

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has “crossed all limits of decency” by allegedly using the insulting word ”Thulla” for Delhi policemen in an interview, Delhi High Court was told on Wednesday.In his reply filed before Justice Mukta Gupta, Delhi police constable Anil Kumar Taneja sought dismissal of a plea filed by Kejriwal seeking stay and setting aside of a trial court’s order summoning him in a criminal defamation complaint against him. Taneja, who has filed the criminal defamation complaint against the AAP leader, claimed that by referring to policemen as ”Thulla”, Kejriwal “has intentionally insulted the entire Delhi Police force as a whole and caused unnecessary provocation to the police personnel in Delhi”.”Being Chief Minister of Delhi, which is a constitutional position, the petitioner (Kejriwal) has immense influence and reach across public domain. His words definitely impact the public at large and the personnel of Delhi Police. Therefore, by using such a derogatory and insulting word, he (Kejriwal) has crossed all limits of decency while uttering such words on a famous national Hindi news channel, that too in an interview being telecast at prime time…,” he said in his reply filed through advocate L N Rao.Seeking dismissal of Kejriwal’s plea, Taneja claimed that the word uttered by the Chief Minister was sufficient to harm his reputation in the eyes of the general public and “lowered the image” of Delhi Police as a whole. “This remark ”Thulla” uttered by the petitioner (Kejriwal) has not only maligned the reputation of the respondent number one (Taneja) but also degraded the image and reputation of entire Delhi Police in the eyes of the general public and in the society as a whole,” the reply said.Meanwhile, during the hearing, the counsel appearing for Kejriwal sought more time to file an affidavit in the matter. The court fixed the matter for hearing on February 21 next year. The court had earlier issued notice to the constable and sought his response on the Chief Minister’s plea.The high court in July had asked Kejriwal to explain the meaning of word ”thulla” he allegedly used against policemen while staying the trial court’s order. The word used by Kejriwal was a Hindi word and the high court wanted to know its meaning as it does not exist in the dictionary.Earlier, Kejriwal’s counsel had told the court that the word ”Thulla” was not used against all policemen but against those indulging in wrong practices. In the complaint filed on July 23 last year before the trial court, Taneja had claimed that Kejriwal had used the “derogatory” term for policemen on a news channel while talking about the AAP government’s “constraints” in ensuring effective functioning of the Anti-Corruption Branch.”If a word like ”thulla” is used by an eminent personality like Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to refer to personnel of Delhi Police, then the general public too would have no respect or regard for police personnel who dedicate their entire lives to maintain law and order in Delhi,” the plea had said.The constable had earlier claimed to have called the office and residence of Kejriwal and also on the helpline numbers to talk to him, but there was no “positive response”.

Relief for Yeddyurappa: Former Karnataka CM, family acquitted in Bellary illegal mining case

Relief for Yeddyurappa: Former Karnataka CM, family acquitted in Bellary illegal mining case

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The BJP state president and former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa and three others were acquitted in the Bellary illegal mining case by a CBI court on Wednesday, according to CNN-News18.

Yeddyurappa was  accused of accepting bribe of around Rs 40 crore in his official capacity. The former chief minister, his two sons, his son-in-law along with JSW Steel and their four Bellary-based affiliates were accused of bribery, forgery and cheating. The court acquitted all the accused.

They were charged under IPC sections, including 120-B (conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) as also under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and Karnataka Land (Restriction on) Transfer Act.

This can be seen as an important victory for the BJP and its state president ahead of the 2018 Karnataka state elections, as Yeddyurappa is largely seen as the face of the party in the state. The case cost the former chief minister his job in 2011 after the Lokayukta report on illegal mining indicted him, following which a spate of corruption and land denotification cases were filed against him.

Judgment on mining bribe case against former Karnataka CM Yeddyurappa likely today

Judgment on mining bribe case against former Karnataka CM Yeddyurappa likely today

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A special CBI court on Wednesday is likely to pronounce its judgement on the bribery and corruption case against former Karnataka chief minister and BJP’s state unit president BS Yeddyurappa, reported The Indian Express.

B S Yeddyurappa. File photo. AFP

B S Yeddyurappa. File photo. AFP

Yeddyurappa, his two sons and son-in-law, JSW Steel and their four Bellary-based affiliates are the accused in the Rs 40-crore bribery case. Yeddyurappa, his family trust have been accused of taking a bribe in exchange for official favours, the report added.

They were charged under IPC sections, including 120-B (conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) as also under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and Karnataka Land (Restriction on) Transfer Act.

The former chief minister and his family have also been accused of illegally selling a one-acre of government-notified land near Bengaluru for Rs 20 crore, according to The Indian Express.

Yeddyurappa resigned as chief minister in July 2011 after the Lokayukta report on illegal mining indicted him following which a spate of corruption and land denotification cases have been filed against him.

With inputs from agencies

India trying to ‘implode’ Pakistan and sabotage moves against corruption: Imran Khan

Islamabad: On Tuesday cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan claimed India was trying to “implode” Pakistan and sabotage moves against corruption.

The 64-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman also accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of being a “security risk” to the country.

“A new doctrine has originated in India which aims to implode Pakistan because they have failed to defeat us militarily,” Imran told reporters outside his residence before leaving for Quetta, where Islamic State militants attacked a police training centre.

“…to make Pakistan descend into chaos without any reforms,” he said, adding that India did not want an inside political reform movement to succeed.

“Whenever we plan to launch a reform movement against corruption in the country such terror attacks happen,” he added.

A file photo of Imran Khan. ReutersA file photo of Imran Khan. Reuters

A file photo of Imran Khan. Reuters

Noting that corruption and militancy funding in Pakistan “run side by side”, Imran also called Sharif a “security risk” for the country as the prime minister was only interested in saving himself from the accountability in the wake of the Panama Papers leaks.

“His only aim is to save himself from the repercussions of the revelations regarding his corruption in Panama leaks,” he said and demanded the government to highlight the names of those officials who were involved in leaking the crucial information regarding a high-level security meeting here.

He went on to add that “when Balochistan Chief Minister is saying that India was involved in sabotaging law and order in the province then why does our prime minister not raise his voice on the issue on global forums”.

Retired air force officer, former Andhra MP booked by CBI in corruption case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have registered a case under Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act against a retired officer of the India Air Force and a former Member of Parliament who represented the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh. According to the probe agency the retired air force officials allegedly helped the former Parliamentarian to acquire agricultural land in south-west Delhi’s Najafgarh area which has recently seen a surge in land investments real estate development.The charges against the accused also include that the two men, with the help of a Delhi based bank manager, allegedly amassed wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income during 2007 to 2012. The total amount of money involved in the case is to the tune of approximately Rs12 crore.The Indian Air Force officer has been identified as Polu Sridhar, who retired as a Squadron leader. CBI sources said that the politician allegedly involved in the case is Balashowry Vallabhaneni who was a member of the 14th Lok Sabha of India and represented the Tenali constituency of Andhra Pradesh.The agency has also booked Manish Saxena who was the then branch manager of Axis Bank. The three have been booked under section 13(2) read with 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and section 109 of the Indian Penal Code. The agency also conducted searches at three locations that include Guntur, Hyderabad and Noida.According to CBI sources, transactions worth Rs11.96 crore were made through Axis Bank’s Najafgarh branch between November 2007 to December 2012. “The transfers were allegedly made between Mr Polu Sridhar and Mr Balashowry Vallabhaneni in between the said period. Three suspected transactions that have come to fore are one running to the tune of Rs8.49 crores, Rs1.27 crore and more than two crores. The transactions include cash deposits as well,”said a CBI source.The source added that the transactions were made possible with the help of Saxena who has been accused of allegedly conniving with the senior air force official.According to officials, the accused will likely be questioned in the coming week. “We have already conducted searches at the premises belonging to those names in the case. Further action will depend on the direction which the probe against the accused takes,”said a CBI official.

Aircel-Maxis case: Dayanidhi Maran refutes claims of pressurising Sivasankaran to sell stakes

New Delhi: Former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran on Thursday refuted before a special court CBI’s claim that he had pressurised a Chennai-based telecom promoter to sell his stakes in Aircel to a Malaysian firm Maxis Group in 2006.

While arguing on framing of charges against him in the Aircel-Maxis case, the former union minister claimed that during the time period in which the alleged crime was committed, as claimed by the CBI, Chennai-based businessman C Sivasankaran was in talks with several other companies to sell his stakes in Aircel.

File image of Dayanidhi maran. AFP

File image of Dayanidhi maran. AFP

“There is no reason why I would try to facilitate a business transaction, which may even attract criminal charge, which was not even embryonic at that time. “Allegations against me are that I am trying to help in Aircel and Maxis business. Am I facilitating a deal which was non-existent,” the ex-minister’s counsel argued before Special Judge OP Saini.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of Dayanidhi, said there were initial talks in 2004 with regard to this business. “Then Aircel tried to do business with several other companies and it was only in October 2005, the business transaction between Aircel and Maxis was finalised,” the counsel said.

CBI has claimed that Dayanidhi pressurised Sivasankaran to sell his stakes in Aircel and two subsidiary firms to Maxis Group.
The agency had also claimed that the politician had forced Sivasankaran to sell his three companies to Malaysia’s Maxis Communication Berhad, also an accused in the case. The arguments on the point of framing charges remained inconclusive.

The court had earlier held it had the jurisdiction to try the matter against Dayanidhi Maran, Kalanithi Maran and others as the Aircel- Maxis deal “fairly and squarely falls within the description of 2G scam”.

The court’s order on jurisdiction issue had come as it dismissed the pleas of the Maran brothers and other accused challenging jurisdiction of the special 2G court to try two cases filed by CBI and Enforcement Directorate in the Airce-Maxis deal, claiming that these matters did not directly or indirectly fall into the category of 2G spectrum cases.

CBI had filed charge sheet against the Maran brothers, Ralph Marshall, T Ananda Krishnan, M/s Sun Direct TV (P) Ltd, M/s Astro All Asia Networks Plc, UK, M/s Maxis Communications Berhad, Malaysia, and M/s South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd, Malaysia and then Additional Secretary(Telecommunication) late Dr JS Sarma.

They were chargesheeted for the offences punishable under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. All the accused persons have also moved bail pleas which are pending before the court.

The court had on 24 September, issued open warrants of arrest against Krishnan and Marshall on CBI’s plea stating that summons issued to them could not be served. The court had also ordered that the trial against Maran brothers and two accused companies be segregated from that of those based in Malaysia – Krishnan, Marshall, and two firms, Astro All Asia Network PLC and Maxis Communication Berhad, saying their appearance may take a long time which may lead to a delay in the proceedings.

AAP MLA Naresh Balyan arrested in a case of assault

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AAP MLA Naresh Balyan, who was last week booked for allegedly assaulting president of Mohan Garden RWA, Henry George, was arrested by Delhi Police on Friday. Balyan, MLA from Uttam Nagar, was arrested on a day that also saw Deputy Chief Minister Manish and Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan being questioned by Anti-Corruption Branch in separate cases and news about a non-bailable warrant being issued against Matiala legislator Gulab Singh surfaced.”AAP MLA Balyan was arrested today in connection with a case of assault registered at Uttam Nagar police station last week,” said Dependra Pathak, joint commissioner of police (Southwest).Balyan was called for questioning to the police station around 8.30 pm and was later arrested, said a senior police officer. He added that Mahavir Fauji, an associate of Balyan, was also arrested.”In such matters, it is essential to arrest the accused since we have to know the facts. It’s a bailable offence in which he has been arrested and he is likely to be given bail by late night,” said the officer.In his complaint, George, also a former AAP volunteer, had accused Balyan and his associates of tress-passing his office, attacking him and issuing threat to his life. A case had been registered against Balyan under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 451 (assault) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.One of Balyan’s associates had filed a cross complaint against George accusing him and his aides of abusing and assaulting the MLA and his supporters who were passing from near his office. (Agency Inputs)

Kerala Industries Minister EP Jayarajan to quit over nepotism allegations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kerala Industries Minister EP Jayarajan will resign on Friday after the controversy surrounding alleged nepotism in appointments for key posts in state PSUs.The CPI(M)’s Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that CPI(M) state secretariat permitted Jayarajan to submit his resignation.The State Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau was understood to have decided to order a preliminary probe into certain controversial appointments of relatives of Industries Minister EP Jayarajan in key posts yesterday in state PSUs. However, there is no official word on the decision of the bureau. Meanwhile, the Special Court (Vigilance) directed the bureau to file its reply by tomorrow on a complaint with regard to the alleged appointments. Against the backdrop of opposition Congress and BJP targeting it on the issue, the four-month old LDF government has decided to bring in a law to prevent any nepotism in appointments in key positions in public sector units (PSUs).The cabinet also entrusted Chief Secretary S M Vijayanand with the task to examine the various complaints with regard to any appointments which have become controversial. “This is to prevent nepotism in appointments,” a statement quoting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. The complaint in the Special Vigilance court had sought filing of FIR and registration of case against Jayarajan, who had allegedly appointed some relatives to key posts in state PSUs. When the case came up today, the court directed the Vigilance bureau to file a reply on the petition by tomorrow.According to sources, preliminary inquiry was to find out whether there was any substance in the complaints to register a case and order further probe. The complaint filed in the Vigilance court contended that nepotism amounted to corruption and sought registration of a case under Prevention of Corruption Act. Besides the complaint in the court, three other petitions, including that of Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and BJP leader V Muraleedharan seeking filing of FIR and registering a case against Jayarajan, are pending before Vigilance Director Jacob Thomas. Against this backdrop, Thomas met Chief Minister Vijayan this morning and held discussions. Vijayan also met party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan this evening ahead of the party state committee to be held tomorrow which may discuss the appointment issue.

Waqf Board dissolved because of fight against corruption, says Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi: A day after Lt Governor Najeeb Jung dissolved the Delhi Waqf Board, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday that the move came because its chairman Amanatullah Khan was targeting “big vested interests” responsible for corruption in the religious endowments body.

“Everyone knows that Waqf Board had become the centre of corruption. But after taking over as the chairman of the board, Amanatullah Khan increased its income from Rs 26 lakh to Rs 1 crore by taking several measures,” Kejriwal said at a press conference here.

“He was targeting big vested interests and that is why he was removed and the board dissolved,” he said.

File photo of Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

File photo of Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

On Friday, Jung had also declared Mehboob Alam’s appointment as the Waqf Board CEO as illegal and referred all matters involving alleged rule violations and corruption to the Central Bureau of Investigation for a probe.

Kejriwal added that from being a centre of corruption, the Waqf Board had turned a new page under the leadership of Amanatullah Khan, who is also an Aam Aadmi Party legislator.

“As many as 1,200 widows were given pension, 100 children were given scholarship. Construction of five schools had started,” he said.

“But yesterday (Friday), Waqf Board office was sealed, and we don’t know why it was done. We came to know from the Divisional Commissioner that there were no such orders to seal the office,” Kejriwal added.

Earlier in the day, Amanatullah Khan also said that he is being targeted because he “waged a war” against corruption in the Waqf Board after taking charge in March.

“After becoming the chairman of Waqf Board, I was sent to jail twice. Anti Corruption Branch is sent after me. This is the first time in history that office of the Waqf Board is sealed,” Khan said.

On Friday, Jung said that Alam’s appointment as CEO of Waqf Board was “illegal and void ab initio” in the absence of necessary approval from the competent authority. He dissolved the board, the term of which was to expire in December 2016.

Pakistanis are ready for friendship with India: Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan on Friday night offered an olive branch to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying Pakistanis are ready for friendship as war between two nuclear powers is no solution to any problem.”We want peace. We are ready for friendship if you (Modi) are willing. I offer you peace as war is no solution to problems,” Imran said while addressing a big rally here.”When I met Modi in India I told him that a small group of people may try to derail peace process between India and Pakistan. But When Uri incident took place, India without investigation blamed Pakistan and Modi started hurling threats at Pakistan,” the Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf chief said.Imran called on Modi not to talk about stopping water and surgical strikes, saying Pakistan is united and standing behind its army against any aggression.Addressing Modi, Imran said every Pakistani is not coward like Nawaz Sharif.”Nawaz Sharif has great love for money. In United Nations General Assembly Sharif reluctantly made pro-Kashmiri speech.Modi said Nawaz Sharif had not wanted to make that speech but he did so on the pressure of army chief Gen Raheel Sharif,” Imran said.Imran warned that India would bear more loss and stated that Modi’s his dream of “shining India” might never be fulfilled if it chooses war over peace with Pakistan.”We will continue our moral and political support to Kashmiris for their freedom struggle. We will raise our voice even for Hindus and Christians if they are denied their rights,” he said.Taking about Sharif, Imran said he would not allow the Premier to run the government after the month of Muharram if his and his family off-shore holdings are not probed.”The time of Nawaz Sharif is over. He has to go. It is our misfortune that Nawaz Sharif is our Prime Minister. Make him Britain’s premier he will destroy Britain in five years as he destroys institutions first,” he said.Imran said this was his last rally to pressure Sharif to present himself for accountability in his corruption revealed in Panama Papers.”Now after (Islamic month of) Muharram we will block Islamabad and will not allow Nawaz Sharif to run his government. Corruption money has weakened Nawaz Sharif. Sharif has committed four crimes — corruptions, onceal assets, tax evasion and money laundering. He should be made accountable for looting Pakistan and transferring huge money abroad,” Imran said.Imran in 2014 had held a four-month sit-in in Islamabad against 2013 general election rigging.

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