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'Rampant Abuse Of Office And Criminal Misconduct'

Full text of the complaint filed by the noted lawyer and Aam Aadmi Party leader against CBI Director Mr Ranjit Sinha

 'Rampant Abuse Of Office And Criminal Misconduct'
'Rampant Abuse Of Office And Criminal Misconduct'
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

Dated: November 25, 2014

To
The Station Head Officer
Anti-Corruption Branch
New Delhi.

Dear Sir,

Sub: Complaint for investigation concerning abuse of office & criminal misconduct by CBI Director Mr Ranjit Sinha

The instant complaint concerns the rampant abuse of office and criminal misconduct by Mr Ranjit Sinha as the CBI Director.

CBI is the premier investigation agency in the country and millions of people have reposed their faith in the institution. The Supreme Court and the High Courts in India have also reposed their faith in the CBI by entrusting it with the investigation of major scams and important cases.

CBI has been investigating several important cases like the 2G spectrum allocation scam, coal block allocation scam, Karnataka mining scandal etc. As head of the CBI, Mr Ranjit Sinha was taking several important decisions in these important cases relating to whether a chargesheet should be filed, who should be prosecuted and for what offence, who should be arrested, what should be the line of investigation, how should the CBI conduct its cases in courts etc.

Now the evidence has surfaced, that Mr Sinha deliberately tried to save certain influential persons from prosecution in the 2G scam, coal scam etc by abusing his position as the CBI Director.

It has also now come to light that while Mr Sinha was abusing his authority to save certain persons from prosecution, he was meeting accused/potential accused (or their agents/lawyers) in important cases being investigated by the CBI, repeatedly at his residence without the presence of other CBI officers. The entry register of 2013 and 2014 maintained at the gate of the official residence of the CBI Director Mr Ranjit Sinha, i.e. 2, Janpath, New Delhi shows that he was having meetings, several of them late at night, at his residence, without any of the investigation officers being present, with several accused persons in prominent cases like 2G scam, coal scam, and with hawala operators like Mr Moin Qureshi. A copy of the aforesaid register is annexed as Annexure A.

The entry register shows that top officials of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) have met Mr Sinha quite frequently in the last 15 months, by one count, 50 times at his official residence. These two officials appear to be Tony Jesudasan (PR Manager and director in several ADAG companies) and AN Sethuraman (group president of ADAG). The cars in which they arrived at Sinha’s residence are reportedly registered in the name of ADAG. These visits happened contemporaneously with the developments of Mr Sinha attempting to destroy the CBI’s prosecution case against accused Reliance and its 3 officers. The fact that Mr Sinha met these two individuals of the Reliance ADAG at his residence has been admitted by Mr Sinha in several interviews.

There are visits by several coal scam accused like Vijay Darda and Devendra Darda that happened while Mr Sinha was trying to close coal scam cases against them. There are entry records of several accused or their agents/lawyers who are the subject matter of CBI investigations. The aforesaid entry register of Mr Sinha’s residence runs into hundreds of pages and contains thousands of hand-written entries. The entries contain specific details including the name of the visitor, date & time of visit and the vehicle number, which can easily be verified by any investigation. The authenticity of the register can be easily verified by an investigation and the guards posted at the gate of Mr Sinha’s official residence can be questioned.

Interference in the conduct of 2G investigations and prosecutions

Mr Sinha made repeated attempts to jeopardize the CBI’s prosecution case against accused M/s Reliance Telecom, its accused officials Mr Gautam Doshi, Mr Hari Nair, Mr Surendra Pipala, as well as the case against M/s Swan Telecom, Mr Shahid Balwa and Mr Vinod Goenka. CBI has filed a chargesheet in April 2011 against M/s Reliance and its 3 top executives for creating a company M/s Swan Telecom, through a maze of shell companies, out of about Rs 1000 crore of Reliance’s funds. Reliance was ineligible to apply since it was already a license holder. Therefore, it created Swan which then applied for license and was favoured by the then telecom minister Mr Raja for allocation of telecom license and 2G spectrum. At the time of applying, the company has to state in the application form that it does not hold any existing telecom license, which M/s Swan falsely stated.

The Special Court, exclusively dealing with 2G scam cases, was pleased to take cognizance of the said chargesheet and was pleased to frame charges against all the accused. That six accused in the matter who are currently undergoing trial (which is at an advanced stage of defence evidence) filed individual petitions seeking quashing of the charges against them in the Supreme Court. In reply to these petitions, a single consolidated counter affidavit was filed by the CBI in the Supreme Court on 04.03.2014. This affidavit was settled by Shri U U Lalit, then Special Public Prosecutor appointed by the Supreme Court.

Despite the fact that CBI had already filed affidavit in the Supreme Court, a decision was taken by the CBI Director that the consolidated counter filed by the CBI requires “reconsideration” and separate replies for each individual petition be filed by the CBI. An application was drafted by CBI to be filed in the Supreme Court to seek more time to file six separate affidavits. The aforesaid draft application was communicated to Shri Lalit vide communication dated 01.04.2014. The said communication reads: “As you are aware, in complicance of order dated 21.01.2014 of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, a consolidated counter affidavit was filed by CBI through undersigned on 04.03.2014… After filing of said consolidated counter affidavit the matter was reconsidered in CBI and the competent authority has now decided to file separate counter affidavits in respect of each of the 6 petitions.” No explanation was provided in the communication as to what suddenly necessitated the filing of separate affidavits since a consolidated affidavit had already been filed which was settled by Shri U U Lalit.

To the above communication, it is learnt that Shri Lalit responded by stating: “I am firmly of the view that it is not at all necessary for CBI to make a request for time to file separate affidavits. The common counter affidavit filed is good enough to take care of the matters in issue.” It is learnt that Shri Lalit informed the CBI that since the 2G matters were not listed for hearing, so in the meantime CBI may prepare drafts of the proposed separate counter affidavits, as long as they are consistent with the consolidated reply already filed.

Vide letter dated 24.06.3014, the CBI supplied copies of two draft counter affidavits to Shri Lalit by stating that “Competent authority in CBI has approved draft separate parawise replies to each petition. Draft parawise replies to WP(C) No. 205/2013 and WP(C) No. 17/2014 filed by Shahid Balwa and Gautam Doshi respectively, duly approved by the Competent Authority in CBI, are attached herewith for your kind perusal, vetting and settling the same.”

The said draft affidavits, shockingly, completely reverses the stand the CBI has taken in its chargesheet and before the trial court. CBI in that affidavit stated that since Swan was sold off by Reliance to Mr Balwa after the date of application and before the license was granted, therefore, Swan was eligible on the date license was granted. This kind of dishonest affidavit, which would mark a reversal of CBI’s stand, would have possibly saved Reliance, its officers, Mr Balwa etc. from being convicted. Paragraphs 24.24 to 24.27 of draft counter in WP(Crl) 205/2013 and paragrpah 24.35 of draft counter in WP(Crl) 17/2014 point to clear attempt to destroy their own case against Reliance and other accused. It is clear that the CBI tried to admit the very case of the accused raised in their defence in order that they may be shielded from criminal liability.

Shri Lalit, realising the full import of the CBI filing the proposed affidavits, categorically stated the proposed affidavits “should not be filed at any stage under any circumstances”. Shri Lalit highlighted the fact that the proposed affidavits were contradictory to the CBI’s own chargesheets and stated that “any such attempt will tantamount to weakening the case of the Prosecution in a fundamental way”. He further sought answer to the following questions: “A. Who has drafted these aforesaid paragraphs? B. Under what authority could the matter be attempted to be reconsidered? C. Which provision of law empowers such reconsideration at this stage? D. Once the chargesheet is filed with the assessment of the Department, as regards facts in issue, the public prosecutor takes over the matter and it is for him to present the matter before the Court. Having projected the view as stated in the chargesheet up to the stage of examination and closure of prosecution evidence, will it be right and justifiable for the Director/Department to reconsider the matter? E. Will such an act not impinge upon the independence of the investigating officer as bestowed upon him by the Code of Criminal Procedure?”

Shri Lalit then categorically stated:

“On merits, in my considered view, the alleged re-assessment is complete misconceived. At best, it may be the individual opinion of a person. What weightage can be given to such view-point? In the given circumstances, in my view, no weightage can be given to such a point of view. Under the circumstances, you are directed not to attempt any such filing of separate replies. For the purposes of the present matters, the consolidated reply filed earlier is more than sufficient. Please treat the matter as closed. Needless to say, you are not to file any such separate replies without consultation with and approval of the Special Public Prosecutor.”

Even more shockingly, on 22.07.2014, the CBI Director entered a noting in response to Shri Lalit’s letter stating that since Shri Lalit is being appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court, CBI would “rake up” the issue after he is so appointed. The Director CBI has admitted the aforesaid paragraphs, objected to by Shri Lalit, are “extracts of my notings from the case file”. He has recorded: “The Ld. Spl P P, however, has not opined whether the facts contained in draft counter-affidavits are relevant or otherwise. Instead, issues have been raised which affect the basic functioning of the CBI and the authority of the Director. Be that as it may, since he has directed the CBI not to file any affidavit with facts which may affect the case in a fundamental way, we may not agitate this issue any further at the moment. We may consider raking up this matter in the interest of justice when the new Spl P P is appointed by the Hon’ble Apex Court shortly.”

The Director CBI entered a noting on 15.05.2014 in a file entitled ‘Madras High Court Matter’ directing the investigation officers to submit a detailed report on eight issues. The issues, raised by the Director are precisely the issues raised by Reliance and other accused in their defence. These issues concern with the fact whether Tatas had complied with their roll-out obligations for their CDMA service before applying for Dual Technology licence. The CBI has chargesheeted Mr Raja for favouring Reliance by granting them the dual technology license while delaying the same for Tatas. The accused in their defence have argued that Tatas were guilty of non-fulfillment of their rollout obligations, though the same is only a contractual violation and not a criminal offence.

The above course was strongly objected to by both the DIG Shri Rastogi and the investigation officer Shri Vivek Priyadarshi. Both have repeatedly recorded serious reservations about reopening the investigation on the points being raised by Reliance and other accused before the trial court. Both pointed out that the trial is at an advanced stage of the defence evidence, and the CBI has repeatedly submitted that all investigation in the above matter has been completed. They also pointed out that the matter had earlier been closed with the approval of the previous Director CBI and any reopening of this line of investigation would have serious negative repercussions on the trial. However, when this file was put up to the Director CBI, he overruled the investigation officers and directed detailed investigation into the issues. DIG Shri Rastogi then stated that since he did not agree with this line of investigation, he be allowed to recuse himself from the case.

DIG Shri Santosh Rastogi had asked to be relived from the investigations as the CBI Director was repeatedly trying to destroy the case. After this, Shri Rastogi was transferred out of the 2G case investigations by the CBI Director because of the firm stand taken by him, as highlighted above. This was done despite the fact that Supreme Court had directed the CBI not to make any change in the composition of the 2G investigation team. Moreover, the Director CBI initiated disciplinary proceedings against Shri Rastogi and ordered that a cautionary note may be issued to the officer.

Mr Sinha also made repeated attempts to delay the case against former telecom minister Mr Dayanidhi Maran. CBI had developed a water-tight case against Mr Maran for favouring M/s Aircel after it was bought over by M/s Maxis by granting it several licenses which were refused earlier. CBI had found a money trail in which a whopping Rs 650 crores were invested by M/s Maxis to buy shares at a hugely inflated price in a new company called Sun Direct Tv owned by Mr Maran’s brother. All the investigation officers had opined that a chargesheet must be filed. However, Mr Sinha referred the matter for the opinion of the Attorney General even without taking the opinion of the Director of Prosecution (in violation of the CBI manual). This led to considerable delay and ultimately the Attorney General refused to give his opinion saying there is no difference of opinion in terms of CBI manual. The matter was then referred to the Director of Prosecution who also said that chargesheet ought to be filed in the matter. Mr Sinha then raised doubts about the sustainability of the entire case and again referred the matter for the opinion of the Attorney General citing difference of opinion on the need for filing a chargesheet. This time the Attorney General gave a strong opinion in favour of filing a chargesheet. Having been left with no option, Mr Sinha then approved filing of a chargesheet.

The above sequence of events have been verified by the Special Public Prosecutor in the 2G cases Shri Anand Grover by examining all the CBI’s internal files. Based on Mr Grover’s report, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has on 20.11.2014 directed Mr Sinha not to interefere in 2G investigations and trial and to recuse himself from the case. A copy of the said order dated 20.11.2014 is annexed as Annexure B. The report submitted by Shri Grover can be obtained by the ACB from him.

Interference in the Coal Scam investigations

As the coal investigations progressed, it came to light that Mr Sinha, along with a few other senior officers of the level of the Joint Directors, was repeatedly overruling the investigation officers and forcing them to not to register FIRs/RCs in cases where PEs had been registered. He even forced them to file closure reports in cases where FIRs had already been registered.

Faced with such a situation, the Supreme Court, vide order dated 28.03.2014, directed the CBI to submit their reports to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in cases where Inquiry Officers had recommended registration of a Regular Case, but had been overruled by the CBI Headquarters. Later, the CVC, agreeing with the investigation officers, categorically recommended registration of Regular Cases in as many as 14 such cases in the first instance. Supreme Court directed the CBI to abide by the view taken by the CVC. This clearly shows that the decision taken at the level of the CBI Director to close these cases was wrong and amounted to subverting the process of investigation.

Now, it has come to light that Special Public Prosecutor appointed by the Supreme Court in the coal scam cases Shri R S Cheema has disagreed with the findings of Mr Sinha to file closure reports in several FIRs despite the fact that evidence of criminal culpability had been found against several companies, influential accused and public servants. Reportedly, Shri Cheema has written as many six letters to Mr Sinha for preparing sketchy closure reports. The closure reports of CBI have now all been rejected by the Special Court dealing with coal scam cases after finding them to be totally slipshod. A newsreport published in the Indian Express is annexed as Annexure C.

In February this year, CBI Director Ranjit Sinha overruled his agency colleagues to say there was no reason to prosecute Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda, his son Devendra Darda, former Coal Minister Santosh Bagrodia and former Coal Secretary H C Gupta in the coal blocks allocation scam. Vijay Darda had written to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pushing for a coal block in Bander, Chhattisgarh, to AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd, which transferred Rs 24.6 crore to a firm owned by Darda’s son after AMR got the block. On receipt of Sinha’s objections, the CBI’s Additional Legal Advisor, who had previously recommended prosecution, did a U-turn and cleared the Dardas. Barely two months later, Sinha himself did a startling U-turn and gave orders to file a chargesheet against the Dardas, this time citing the same arguments he had once vehemently objected to. The chargesheet was filed on March 27 this year against the Dardas and AMR director Manoj Jayaswal. This curious flip-flop-flip coincides with visits of Devendra Darda to the Sinha residence. Between February 2 and February 14, 2014, Devendra Darda made five visits to the Sinha residence. This period coincides with detailed debates within the CBI before recommending prosecution against the Dardas, former coal minister Santosh Bagrodia, former coal secretary H C Gupta and Jayaswal.

The CBI’s key allegations against AMR: Vijay Darda tried to influence the outcome of coal block allotment by writing letters in favour of AMR to the Prime Minister who was the then coal minister; his son Devendra Darada represented AMR in Screening Committee that allotted coal misrepresenting as Director of the company and gave misleading information to the committee; a Jayaswal firm gave an unsecured loan of Rs 24.6 crore to a Darda company. In addition, the CBI also claimed that it had found evidence that while settling a “family feud,” Jayaswal in July 2008 made a provision for 26% shares of “coal block applicant companies to the person who is instrumental in getting the (Bander) Coal Block allotted”. The CBI also claimed to have records of meetings at various locations between Darda and Jayaswal.

The case recommending chargesheet against Darda and others was sent to Sinha on February 4. Significantly, on February 2 and February 3, Devendra spent 20 minutes and 15 minutes respectively at Sinha’s residence, according to the visitor’s logbook. In total, he made nine visits between February 2 — this was his first visit since the logbook was opened in May 2013 — and March 28. CBI records show this is same period in which it changed its stand several times before filing the chargesheet. On February 13, Sinha wrote a strong rebuttal to the findings of his officers. Devendra Darda met Sinha at two more occasions between February 4 and February 13. Sinha made five key observations countering the arguments of his officers. He said that the case was built merely on “circumstantial evidence;” there was nothing wrong in Devendra Darda attending the screening committee meeting on behalf of AMR because he had disclosed this fact; there was no evidence to link the 24.6-crore payment with the allotment of the coal block, and anyways this money was paid back with interest (significantly, this fact was not mentioned anywhere in the file). A news report on this published in The Indian Express is annexed as Annexure D.

Dealings with Moin Qureshi

By one count, meat exporter Mr Moin Qureshi met the CBI Director at his residence about 90 times in the last 15 months. All these meetings are reflected in the entry register of the CBI Director’s residence. Moin Qureshi is under the income tax investigation for hawala dealings.

Mr Moin Qureshi has been under extensive investigation by the Director of Income Tax (Investigations) and his premises have been raided by the Income Tax authorities. Several important documents and his computers have been seized by the DGIT. The Income Tax Department has prepared a detailed appraisal report. The said appraisal report goes into the details of the illegal operations of Mr Qureshi and his dealings with various individuals, including their conversations over Blackberry Messenger (BBM). Amongst others, there are several coded conversations between Mr Qureshi and former CBI Director A P Singh relating to delivery of money, fixing of meetings etc.

Some of these messages centre around Pradeep Koneru, businessman and son of Prasad Koneru, a co-accused in a case of disproportionate assets filed by CBI against Andhra politician Jaganmohan Reddy; Aditya, an employee of Qureshi; V V Laxminarayana, a CBI Joint Director who had investigated the case; and of course, Qureshi. The messages have one common theme: Pradeep seeking Qureshi’s help in the bail applications and discharge petitions filed by his father and his brother Madhu Koneru who is also an accused in what is commonly referred to as the Emaar-APIIC case. On May 8, 2013, Pradeep, Director of Trimex group, sent a message to Qureshi, asking, “What’s the best time to meet boss?” Qureshi responded: “Afternoon”. The BBM texts reveal that a few days later, Pradeep was still persuading Qureshi to set up a meeting with “boss”, whose identity becomes clearer in another exchange between the two on May 20. Pradeep to Qureshi: “It’s important to meet boss. Do we have an appointment?”. Qureshi’s reply: “Meeting confirmed today 2.30 pm”. Pradeep, again: “Where do I meet you?” Qureshi’s response: “2 pm Defence Colony.” Qureshi’s residence and office were in Delhi’s Defence Colony. The logbook at Sinha’s residence showed that one “Kureshi”, in a car bearing the registration number DL-7CG 3436, was there at 2.40pm that day. The car mentioned in the text reportedly belongs to Qureshi.

The content of the coded texts between the exporter and Pradeep Koneru are important to note. On July 13, Pradeep texted Qureshi: “I have sent 25 diaries today.” In the same series, Koneru texted Qureshi: “Dog has left. Can boss speak to new JD?”. Qureshi responded: “Boss will call him to Delhi.” Significantly, in another message, Qureshi told Pradeep: “Met Boss. He will speak to JD Chennai.” In July 2013, CBI Joint Director V V Laxminarayana, who had filed several chargesheets against Jaganmohan Reddy was repatriated to his parent cadre after the completion of his tenure even though there was a move to grant him an extension.

In August 2013, Pradeep’s father Prasad approached Chennai High Court seeking relaxation in his bail condition – the plea was granted. In this context, another set of messages between Pradeep and Qureshi assume significance. On August 13, Pradeep texted: “There is small delay. 250 mtr work will start from tomorrow”. Qureshi replied: “Do it asap. Its not good”, and later added: “Pls finish remaining 450 mtr work. Thanks. I got reminder.” Here are some of Pradeep’s messages to Qureshi during that period: “Another 45 days to complete work. Business very bad. Pls help”; “Discharge petition of Madhu coming on October 13.” When I-T officials asked Qureshi what the “work” mentioned in the messages was, he told them that he was referring to silk fabric. Then there’s an exchange of texts between Qureshi and Aditya, an employee of Qureshi’s firm Forum Sale. Aditya wrote: “Received 50L from Pradeep”. During questioning by I-T officials, Qureshi said he could not “recollect the identity of Pradeep” mentioned in the text. However, investigators have in their possession an email received by Aditya on September 7, 2013, which refers to the discharge petition filed in court by Madhu Koneru. The sender’s ID is pradeep@trimexgroup.com. A copy of a newsreport on this published in The Indian Express is annexed as Annexure E.

Conclusion

The above facts show that Mr Ranjit Sinha has committed various offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act relating to criminal misconduct by a public servant, as well as under Section 217 and 218 of IPC. The offences of bribery can also be established by a thorough investigation.

Therefore, I request you to kindly get this matter thoroughly and impartially investigated after registering an FIR. Please note that registration of FIR is mandatory (after the authoritative Supreme Court judgment of 2014) once there are allegations of cognizable offences having being committed. It is important to note that almost all of the offences have been committed in the territory of Delhi.

Though the Central Government has issued a notification on 23rd July 2014 that the jurisdiction of the ACB, Delhi Police shall not extend to the officers of the Central Government, but that notification is in violation of the Criminal Procedure Code which vests the jurisdiction of criminal cases on the State Police based on the territory and not on potential accused in the case. Therefore, since the ACB clearly has jurisdiction as the law stands today, I request you to kindly register an FIR in the matter. If the ACB feels that it does not have the jurisdiction, then this complaint may kindly be transferred to the Delhi Police Station which has jurisdiction. This matter cannot be effectively investigated by the CBI since it involves two Directors of CBI and might involve their other officers.

Thanking you,
Yours faithfully,
Prashant Bhushan

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