n a typical move on Wednesday, the Narendra Modi government intervened into the ongoing CBI chaos and sent both the Director and Special Director on a leave till the time the probe against them for corruption charges are completed. Both of them have been alleging each other of corruption, FIR was filed, and in an unprecedented move, the CBI had raided its own headquarters. It is to be noted that the CBI Chief, the Director, Alok Verma and the second in command, Special Director, Rakesh Asthana, both come from very commendable and potent career background. While Asthana is one of the most successful officials in the CBI’s history in terms of numbers of cases probed, probes completed, charge sheets filed, and the accused brought to justice, Verma also possesses some commendable professional history in terms of the position held and the kind of achievements he made as the police chief of different UTs and the reforms he made to boost the morale of the forces.
The central government very rightly came with the argument that both of them have accused each other of corruption and that for the fair probe, it was necessary that both of them are out of the official powers to insure that the probe against them is free and fair. The government also informed in a press conference through the Finance Minister that it was the CVC, which on Tuesday evening, decided as per the law that both of them should be sent on a leave till the time the probe against them is completed as a measure for the time being. In other words, both of them were ousted from the office technically for the time being but practically were sacked. Now there are questions those are being raised on the whole issue and with the role of the CVC. Nageshwar Rao has been appointed as the acting director of the CBI until the time the probe is completed or the new chief is elected as per the rules. Point to be noted is that the main argument put forward by the government and the CVC was that since both the number one and number two of CBI were accused of corruption, the both should not be holding any position in the CBI while the agency probes into the charges. But at the same time, the CVC and the government appointed Rao as the acting chief against whom there are many charges of corruption, acting on behalf of the accused, and cases of disproportionate assets which were going on and were being probed by the CBI itself under the supervision of Verma who himself had recommended that Rao should be removed from the agency.
There are many corruption allegations about him and he is known for shielding corrupt governments. The story about the newly instated working chief of the CBI as exposed in savukkuonline.com portal, stated that the Hindustan Tele Printers Limited or HTL was started as a Public Sector Unit of the Central Government, on December 14, 1960, at Guindy. It was intended to manufacture Teleprinters, but at the initial stage, it assembled the parts of teleprinters imported from the Italian Company Olivetti. Another PSU, Hindustan Machine Tools Limited (HMT), manufactured many of the machines required for the Hindustan Teleprinters. Hindustan Teleprinters Ltd. continued as an active supplier to P&T Department. But economic liberalisation turned out to be a bane for this PSU, as it failed to understand the sea change in technology. The introduction of mobile services was the final nail in the coffin of HTL. It turned into a loss-making unit. When the central government wanted to commence a PSU in Chennai, TN government was liberal in allotting prime land in Chennai keeping in mind the employment it would generate. The land was allotted in 1965 and the condition for allotment was specific. The land so allotted should never be used for anything other than the purpose it has been allotted. After HTL became a sick unit, its debts started mounting. HTL owed money to banks, employees, state government by way of sales tax, etc. Banks to which HTL owed money, formed a consortium headed by SBI. In 2001, the Department of Disinvestment, decided to sell 74 per cent shares of HTL and Himachal Futuristic Communication Limited (HFCL) emerged as the successful bidder. Deepak Malhotra, Mahendra Nahata and Vinay Maloo incorporated HFCL in the year 1987.
HFCL commenced its operations by implementing a small 1.68 crore project for manufacture of analog subscriber carrier systems. Subsequently, HFCL stunned the market by forming a partnership with Israel based Bezeq and managed to win 9 of the 20 telecom circles outbidding AT&T – Birla, Reliance-Ninex, BPL-US West, and Tata-Bell Canada. When HFCL’s stocks were running high, it got itself entangled in a scam with its godfather, the then Telecommunications Minister Sukhram, being booked by the CBI. Subsequently, HFCL got embroiled in the 2G scam too.
HFCL Principal Promoter Mahendra Nahata was also accused of making frequent visits to the residence of Ranjit Sinha in spite of being involved in the 2G scam.
The consortium of banks headed by SBI decided to auction 11.021 acres of the land belonging to HTL. The Bengaluru based RMZ Millenia, a realty firm emerged as the successful bidder and bid Rs.298 crores for the 11.021 acres of land.
RMZ also deposited Rs 20 crores in an Escrow account towards the purchase of this land. An agreement to this effect was signed between State Bank of India (Escrow Agent), HTL Limited, the property owner, and RMZ Millenia, the purchaser on March 30, 2007. But the government of Tamil Nadu was reluctant to grant an NOC and was litigating up to the Supreme Court. The undue delay resulted in the successful bidder RMZ Millenia pulling out of the deal. On April 16, 2012, the government of Tamil Nadu finally issued an No Objection Certificate for the sale of the land belonging to HTL in G.O. Ms No. 18, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Department. One of the mandatory conditions for issuance of NOC is that “out of the net sale proceeds, the company (HTL Limited) shall remit after deducting its liabilities, an amount equivalent to 10 per cent of such surplus to government”.
But, this G.O itself was the results of a criminal conspiracy say sources. The decision to issue NOC to HTL was taken in a cabinet meet of TN cabinet headed by Jayalalitha. In the meet, it was decided to relax the condition on the sale deed.
(This is the first part of the Editorial and the next part will continue tomorrow.)
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