Unholy nexus between Lokayukta and Special Judge
Posted August 8, 2011on:
That Shivraj Singh Chauhan should indulge in a business of petty corruption is not prima facie acceptable because he, as chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, could siphon off hundreds of crores of rupees without directly bringing his relatives in the picture; Even otherwise, as soon as he came to know of this business (of petty corruption), he closed it down which only shows his (good) character.
With this profound observation, Special Judge R P S Chauhan accepted the Lokayukta’s closure report in what has come to be known as the dumper scam and exonerated Chauhan and his wife Sadhna Singh (and others) from any wrong-doing. The manner in which the Special Judge has dealt with the documented allegations against the chief minister and his wife may hardly add to the people’s confidence in the integrity and honesty of the judiciary.
First the business of petty corruption and Chauhan’s status: Chauhan became chief minister on November 29, 2005. Before that he had never held any position in a government and had absolutely no experience of government’s functioning or how chief ministers could siphon off hundreds of crores of rupees without bringing their relative into the picture.
On December 12 — that is, a mere 13 days after taking oath —- his government issued an order allotting to JP Associates prospecting licence of mining on 470.941 hectares of land in Naobasta, Kachur, Attrauli, Gadhwaah, Chiggawar and Jonahi villages in Rewa district. Not only that, the government also allotted to JP Associates 25.842 hectares of private land belonging to farmers of the area though no farmers’ land can be allotted for mining without the consent of the farmers. When the farmers protested, the security personnel of the JP Associates fired on them.
In May 2006, four heavy vehicles (dumpers) worth about Rs two crore were registered in the name of his wife Sadhna Singh. These vehicles were acquired by Sadhna “through JP Associates and for JP Associates”. The documents downloaded from the official website of the MP Transport Department “E-Sewa” by then Bharatiya Jana Shakti (BJS) leader Prahlad Patel (now in the BJP), and others gave the registration numbers of the four vehicles with owner’s name as “Smt Sadhna Singh”; Father’s/Husband’s name as “Shri S.R.Singh”; and the address as “Jaypee Nagar Plant, Rewa”. Late Jamuna Devi, then Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, moved a petition on the issue; it claimed that on “actual verification”, no person by the name of Smt Sadhna Singh was found staying at the address given in the registration document.
Under the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, one has to furnish a proof of residence for registration of a vehicle. How did the RTO in Rewa register the four heavy vehicles in the name of Sadhna Singh? The RTO committed another criminal act, according to Jamuna Devi’s petition, by tampering with the official records of the Transport Department “with a view to protecting the wife of the chief minister”. When the matter came to light, Sadhna Singh transferred the four vehicles to JP Associates as shown by the registration documents. Interestingly, the guarantee for the purchase of the four vehicles was also given by JP Associates.
The affidavit that Chauhan had filed before the Sehore Collector (who was Returning Officer for Budhni Assembly by-election) in April 2006 did not mention that he or his wife was in possession of these vehicles nor could Sadhna Singh have been able to purchase the four vehicles with the income disclosed in the affidavit. It could be safely presumed, the petition said, that Chauhan and his family acquired disproportionate income and assets only after becoming chief minister. (Chauhan was Member of Lok Sabha from Vidisha when he became chief minister and was elected to the Assembly in the Budhni by-election).
Besides, the State government had, at the instance of the chief minister, granted, illegally, prospecting mining lease to JP Associates at the following projects: Hanoti Limestone Mining Project, Satna; New Captive Budgawna Mines, Sidhi; Beladev Mhow Daldal Limestone, Satna; Dendra Hot Dev Mhow Daldal Limestone Mining; New Basta Limestone Mining, Rewa; J.P. Limestone Project, Rewa; Maggona Limestone Mining Project, Sidhi; and Amilia Coal Mining Project, Sidhi.
Quid pro quo
The Mines and Minerals Secretary, “acting in a malafide and illegal manner”, had revoked by his order of February 15,2007 the Government’s decision of June 22,1995 granting prospecting licence of mining to M/S Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd, Delhi, over an area of1434.853 hectares in Satna district and granted on March 23 the prospecting licence of mining to JP Associates. It was done at the instance of chief minister Chauhan. (This was later struck down by the High Court).
It was clearly a case of quid pro quo, the gift of heavy vehicles being probably the first instalment. Jamuna Devi took the matter to then Lokayukta Ripu Sudan Dayal who refused to act. Ramesh Sahu, a Congress activist, then moved the court of Special Judge R.K.Bhave which directed the Lokayukta Organisation to investigate the matter.
Ripu Sudan Dayal, who completed his term as Lokayukta in ignominy with corruption cases filed against him in courts, ensured that Ramesh Sahu, on whose application the Special Court had directed the Lokayukta to investigate the complaint, was not made a complainant in the Lokayukta police FIR but only a witness. That deprived him of his rightful association with the progress of investigation. A Deputy Superintendent of Police was made the complainant in the FIR.
Prakash Prabhakar Naolekar, who succeeded Dayal as the Lokayukta, has turned to be a bigger blackguard. Though a retired Supreme Court judge, he was twice snubbed by the designated judge in Indore (in the Suresh Seth-Vijayvargiya case) and told to see the relevant Act. Naolekar has found a willing accomplice in R P S Chauhan (who has since replaced R.K.Bhave as the Special Judge) for making a mockery of the investigation and the law. Naolekar’s organisation proposed dismissal of the case and R P S Chauhan willingly did it. Some gems from Chauhan’s judgement:
• Sadhna Singh Chauhan deposited the margin money by selling land after Shivraj Singh Chauhan had sworn the affidavit (for Budhni by-election) and the remaining amount was taken on loan. The other ‘technical’ allegations are of no importance.
• Dumpers were to be used on the JP Associates premises and there was nothing wrong if Sadhna Singh gave the same address (for the registration of the dumpers).
• The website of the Transport Department was operated by Anupam Ahuja Smartchip Limited. The complainant has not lodged any complaint with the BSNL or the Transport Department about any tampering with the website.
• Once the chief minister came to know of this dumper business (after the court order directing the Lokayukta to investigate), he got his wife to return the dumpers to the JP Associates which only shows the innocence of the chief minister.
• Cancellation of the mining licence of M/S Dalmia and granting it to JP Associates was done by the officials; the chief minister had no role in that.
• The chief minister had no role in the firing by private security personnel (of the JP Associates) on the farmers (who were protesting against the forcible acquisition of their land). Ordering a judicial inquiry into the firing only showed the chief minister’s transparency.
• Making allegations against the Lokayukta is not proper because the Lokayukta has no control over the investigating officers drawn from the Lokayukta police. (Special Judge R P S Chauhan may better go through the MP Lokayukta and Up-Lokayukta Act which specifically gives the powers of supervision, superintendence and direction over the Lokayukta police to the Lokayukta).
• Ultimately, Chauhan can purloin hundreds of crores of rupees without bringing his relatives in the picture, why should he indulge in corruption for only thousands of rupees.