Posts Tagged ‘Dumper Scam’
The chronic deviousness of Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Ishwardas Rohani was once again at play when the Opposition Congress party submitted a motion “expressing want of confidence” in the Shivraj Singh Chauhan government, along with the relevant charges against the council of ministers. Rohani could not stall a discussion on the motion but he did certainly succeed in blunting the sharp edge of the allegations by his machinations. This, though, was not the first time that Rohani had resorted to disingenuousness in conducting the proceedings.
Rule 143 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha mandates that “if the Speaker is of the opinion that the motion is in order, he shall read the motion to the House and shall request those members who are in favour of leave being granted to rise in their places, and if not less than one-tenth of the total number of members rise accordingly, the Speaker shall intimate that the leave is granted.” Then the Speaker shall fix a day for taking up the motion.
Rohani did not follow the procedure as laid down in Rule 143 but just announced that the motion would be taken up a week later, on November 28 and 29. His subsequent actions indicated that Rohani probably did it for having his personal negotiations with the chief minister. A prompt discussion in the House over the admissibility of the motion could have deprived him much of the advantage.
On November 28, instead of inviting a debate on the motion, Rohani entertained the ruling party’s views on the admissibility of the motion. The treasury benches were already prepared to raise objections to certain references in the charge sheet to what they claimed related to the Chauhan government’s first term. The Opposition members, on the other hand, argued that the matters raised in the charge sheet were very much relevant even today.
Even as the two sides were debating the issue, Rohani read out his five-page ruling, which he had already prepared and brought to the House. It was like a judge delivering the judgement even before the prosecution and the defence had concluded their arguments. He ruled that the issues related to the previous term of Shivraj Singh Chauhan could not be taken up in the motion.
There were some issues which Rohani appeared much too eager to avoid in order to spare embarrassment to the chief minister. The lack of experience of Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh in procedural matters resulted in this setback to the Opposition. Instead of pinpointing a few names and dates, the issues could easily have been rephrased.
The charge-sheet, for instance, refers to the origin of the “dumper scam” involving the chief minister and his wife Sadhna Singh. It did originate in the first term of Chauhan but it has not yet finally been closed. For instance, the farmers whose lands were forcibly taken for handing over to the JP Associates (which later gifted the dumpers to Sadhna Singh Chauhan) were fired upon by the police and the matter is still far from settled. A slight rephrasing of the allegation could have foiled Rohani’s machinations.
Another allegation, objected to by the treasury benches and endorsed by the Speaker, related to Ajay Vishnoi who was minister of health and family welfare in Chauhan’s first term and had presided over a massive bungling of public money in the department. Ajay Vishnoi is now minister of animal husbandry. The allegation could have been easily rephrased to read that minister of health Narottam Mishra is trying to hush up the bungling in the department by keeping at key positions some of the officials indicted by agencies like Economic Offences Wing (EOW) for misappropriation of funds. Then there is the huge bungling in the purchase of electricity which started soon after the Chauhan government was formed and is still continuing.
By avoiding adherence to Rule 143, Rohani could spare only a little bit of embarrassment to the chief minister but he could not provide the same protection to other members of the council of ministers. The charge-sheet levels categorical charges of corruption in various departments. Instead of coming up with satisfactory explanations during the debate which extended to four days, the ministers had, instead, been indulging in gutter language about the Opposition members; and in some cases about their fathers and sons also. Not surprisingly, some of the Opposition members also retorted in the same language.
In nutshell, the no-confidence motion points out that nearly three dozen promises made by the BJP in its 2008 election manifesto have not been fulfilled; raids by the Lokayukta Organisation, EOW and Income-Tax Department on the work places and residences of close relatives of ministers have yielded huge amounts of unaccounted money; the officials indicted by the Lokayukta, EOW and I-T Department are being protected by the chief minister by withholding sanction to prosecute them; the law and order situation in the State has reached its nadir and there is massive corruption in the purchase of electricity.
Illegal mining is flourishing on a massive scale with the cooperation of the minister of public works department, the minister of state for mining, the minister of forests and the minister of environment. Lands worth crores of rupees have been allotted at nominal prices to the RSS and its affiliate organisations. A conspiracy was hatched to mortgage the lands of the farmers abroad. The corruption in the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) from the Panchayat level to the State level has established a new record.
Is Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta Prakash Prabhakar Naolekar sacrificing his integrity for the sake of his son? It would appear now that the agenda of reciprocity was decided at the time of his appointment which is mired in mystery. The Chauhan government is not releasing the papers pertaining to Naolekar’s appointment as Lokayukta, though these have been repeatedly sought under the RTI Act.
RTI activist Ajay Dubey said that they had filed a number of applications to the State government for providing the file notings and other relevant information related to the Lokayukta’s appointment. “But they are sitting on the applications in violation of the RTI rules.” Dubey now plans to approach the Supreme Court in this regard.
In the absence of exact information, only a broad guess can be made of what Chauhan may be trying to hide from public. Naolekar, a retired Supreme Court judge, was sworn in as Lokayukta on June 29,2009 which means his appointment was finalised some time before that. Consultation with the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly is mandatory for appointment of the Lokayukta. Then Leader of Opposition Jamuna Devi had for some time been suffering from serious and complicated ailments like cancer and jaundice and had been spending more time in hospitals in Mumbai and Indore than outside. She was reported to be not in a state of mind lucid enough to discuss the State matters during those days. She died in September 2010.
Chauhan had frequently called on the ailing Jamuna Devi at Mumbai and Indore hospitals during that period. It is, therefore, likely that he may have quietly got her signature on the paper at a time when she was not in full control of her senses. Given to her fighting spirit, and more so because the “Dumper Scam” case against Chauhan and his wife Sadhna Singh Chauhan was pending before the Lokayukta, Jamuna Devi was less likely to agree on the name of a person who would later behave more like a power broker than as the head of the anti-corruption institution. Jamuna Devi was herself the author of the “Dumper Scam” complaint and she had a good perception of the people working at important positions in the State (she had been active in politics since 1952 when she was elected to the Assembly for the first time).
Naolekar showed in no time that he is an ideal companion to Shivraj Singh Chauhan because like the chief minister, he, too, believes in telling something for public consumption and doing exactly the opposite. After his swearing-in, he had boasted before the media persons at Raj Bhavan that he had never in his life worked under anybody’s pressure; he would perform his duties with honesty in future also; he was not bothered with anyone’s likes or dislikes; he would go strictly by the evidence; there would be no delay (in disposal of cases) on his part; the cases would be disposed of as soon as the evidence was produced; he would not allow the platform of the Lokayukta Organisation to be misused by any one; everyone was equal before him, whether he was a minister or an ordinary person; and lastly, his priority was expeditious disposal of the pending cases.
Having said all this, Naolekar went to the Lokayukta office and promptly took up a case for “expeditious” disposal. It was not a case that had been pending for long or had been agitating the public mind because of the dubious role played by Naolekar’s predecessor. The case that Naolekar took up so hurriedly was only a couple of months old and related to Ravi Nandan Singh, an old friend of Naolekar (both belong to Jabalpur). Besides, in his capacity as the Advocate-General at the time, Singh had played an important role in Naolekar’s appointment as the Lokayukta. Needless to say, the complaint of land grabbing by fraudulent means against Singh was dismissed “expeditiously” by friend Naolekar.
He has since been showing a great zeal for helping his friends in power without caring for law or judicial integrity and without bothering if he is being laughed at. He submitted the closure report on the “Dumper Scam” case on the most ridiculous grounds in utter disregard to the documentary evidence annexed to the complaint and special judge R P S Chauhan was only too happy to accept it and dismiss the complaint. Any respectable person in Naolekar’s place would have resigned when a junior judge (compared to his status as a former Supreme Court judge) repeatedly snubbed him and asked him to see the provisions in the law in the Sugnidevi College land scam case involving industries minister Kailash Vijayvargiya. He is prepared to suffer any amount of humiliation in court rather than include Vijayvargiya’s name among the accused.
This friendship is not one-sided. Shivraj Singh Chauhan was recently on a ten-day tour of Hong Kong and China and he had included not only industries and commerce minister Kailash Vijayvargiya but also Lokayukta Naolekar’s son Sandip Naolekar in the official delegation. Suresh Seth, who is the complainant against Vijayvargiya and others in the Sugnidevi College land scam case, has submitted to the special court at Indore that Sandip Naolekar is the managing director of Darling Pumps, the company which has been engaged by the Chauhan government to supply sewage pumps to the department of environment and urban development (which possesses the crucial documents relevant to the complaint against Vijayvargiya and others)
Madhya Pradesh Congress leader K K Mishra had in fact foreseen how Naolekar would go about the complaint against Vijayvargiya. As soon as the case was entrusted by the Indore special court to the Lokayukta Organisation for investigation, Mishra had written a letter to Prakash Prabhakar Naolekar detailing the close relationship between the families of Vijayvargiya and Naolekar and the business interests of the latter’s son. Mishra had expressed the doubt that Naolekar would investigate the case even with a semblance of honesty!