Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why prior nod must for probe against top babus: SC To Decide On Single Directive Which Says CBI Must Get Prior Nod To Probe Against Officers Of Jt Secretary & Above

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to go ahead and test the constitutional validity of the controversial seven-year-old single directive provision that prevents CBI from probing corruption charges against officers of joint secretary rank and above without the Centres prior consent. This clarification came from a five-judge constitution Bench,which practically brushed aside the Centres assertion that it was in the process of reviewing the single directive provision in the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act. Right at the beginning of the hearing,additional solicitor-general Vivek Tankha informed the Bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices M K Sharma,K S Radhakrishnan,Swatanter Kumar and A R Dave that the government had referred Section 6A of DSPE Act to an empowered group of ministers (EGoM) for a comprehensive review.

When did you refer it to the EGoM was the prompt question from the Bench.Tankha said that it was done three days back.The Bench said: So,the matter was referred when the petition was listed for hearing before the Supreme Court. Without wasting time on the timing of the governments decision to review the single directive,the Bench asked amicus curiae senior advocates Anil Divan and A K Panda to proceed with the arguments on the petition filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy challenging the validity of Section 6A. It resulted in digging of a lot of dirt relating to the Rs 1,418-crore loan scam involving Indian Bank,its chairman and managing director and the latters alleged proximity to Tamil Maanila Congress leaders to stick on to the post despite opposition from then finance minister Manmohan Singh.

Not interested in going into past and political link-ups,the Bench again came up with a clarification, We will decide only the validity of section 6A of DSPE Act and rest of the related matters mentioned in the petition,if necessary for further adjudication,will go before a regular Bench. Interestingly, Divan narrated how the apex court in the Vineet Narain judgment,on December 18,1997,had struck down an administrative avataar of the single directive.He said the government in 1998 came up with a modified version saying that officers of joint secretary rank and above could not be investigated under the Prevention of Corruption Act without prior permission of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). But,this was again shot down by then Attorney General when the SC questioned the motive behind it.Finally,it was the NDA government which brought it in through an amendment to the DSPE Act.
Further,the amicus curiae said that the defence of the government then was that if the judges of the higher judiciary enjoyed a similar protection,as enumerated in the Veeraswamy judgment,why deprive the higher bureaucracy of protection from harassment.
SC rings in paradigm shift in telecom arena

The Supreme Courts issue of notices to 11 telcos,DoT (department of telecom) and telecom regulator Trai on Monday is expected to have major ramifications on the telecom landscape.The SC notice is in response to a fresh PIL filed by Prashant Bhushan,seeking recovery of lost revenue and cancellation of licences in addition to his earlier petition seeking supervision of the CBI probe of the 2G scam. In normal circumstances,the DoT,which had issued show cause notices to erring companies,would have received replies from them,which were either allegedly ineligible for 2G licences or those that failed to meet their rollout obligations or both.These replies would then have been evaluated by DoT,which would then reach its own conclusions on whether these were correct or not, a DoT official told TOI.

This is a bilateral process where DoT uses its discretionary powers under licence conditions to judge every reply without any involvement of a third party. However,after the SC notices,all the show cause notices and the replies filed by the companies will become a matter of open discussion and evaluation by the SC. This outcome suits the petitioners perfectly since they do not trust the DoT to make final decisions on the matter behind closed doors.DoT has already been accused of collusion with private operators by the CAG in section 4.6.3 of its report as well as criminal conspiracy in the CBI FIR.

So,what would have been a closed exchange between DoT and private operators,is now in front of the Supreme Court,with the DoT fending for itself,telcos having to explain why they should not be acted against and Trai having to prove why the licences deserve to be cancelled. With this,the prospect of penalties and cancellations has become far stronger than if the normal process of DoT evaluating such replies had been followed.The court will also see at least 14 lawyers fighting it out for various clients all in bid to defend their actions or lack of. Additionally,the DoT will now be busy defending its failure to adhere to its statutory obligation to issue these show cause notices in time,which it was duty-bound to do without prompting by the Trai.

The telcos will also have to face the bench and explain why their licences should not be cancelled,rather than have DoT decide the merits of their reply.Moreover,Trai will have no option but to defend its letter of November 15,2010 recommending cancellation of licences,which now pitches the regulator against private telcos in the open court.
Rape charges against impotent BSP MLA found true

Lucknow: The BSP MLA from Naraini in Banda,Purshottum Naresh Dwivedi,who had claimed impotence on account of diabetes has been found guilty of raping a minor girl.The CB-CID team,which investigated the allegations against the MLA,has found all the charges against him to be prima facie true. According to sources,the charges levelled by the victim before the probe panel include gang rape,torture,illegal confinement,arrest on false charges of burglary and subsequent recovery of stolen goods which were planted on her. Senior officials sent the report back with instructions to add details about the role of local cops,jail officials and doctors,who allegedly connived with the MLA,in order to provide a clear picture of the sequence of events.

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