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Posts Tagged ‘P P Naolekar

Shivraj Singh Chouhan was chief minister of Madhya Pradesh for 13 years. His regime will be remembered for scams more than anything else. Police and a section of judiciary were Chouhan’s accomplices. Here is a summary of major scams of the Chouhan era:

Vyapam scam
This is the biggest scam of Chouhan’s period. It has destroyed careers of thousands of young boys and girls. Vyapam or Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal (Professional Examination Board – PEB) is entrusted with the task of conducting technical/professional examinations. The names of the meritorious students appearing for pre-medical test were quietly replaced with the names of those who could pay hefty sums to the touts and they were declared successful for admission to medical colleges, leaving the genuine students wondering how they failed in spite of having done the tests so well. The names of Chouhan, his wife Sadhna Singh and his close associates were said to be involved in the scam. As it turned out a money-spinner, recruitment to several other departments was also brought under the control of Vyapam.
Following a public hue and cry, Chouhan constituted a Special Task Force (STF) to investigate the scam. Cover-up by STF was helped by then Madhya Pradesh High Court Chief Justice (now a Supreme Court judge) A M Khanwilkar who monitored the investigation in a secret and dubious manner. Later the Supreme Court handed the investigation to the CBI. In its order, a bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu, Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy made it clear that with the CBI on the case now, the High Court will not “touch” the Vyapam cases.
Around 50 people connected with the Vyapam scam have died under mysterious circumstances. There is no record of how many meritorious students committed suicide after they found themselves unsuccessful in the tests. Incidentally, the CBI did hardly better than the State police.

Dumper scam
Chouhan became Chief Minister on November 29, 2005. On December 12, his government issued an order allotting to JP Associates prospecting licence of mining on 470.941 hectares of land 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 return, the JP Associates gifted to Chouhan’s wife Sadhna Singh four dumpers worth Rs two crore and took these dumpers on rent from Sadhna Singh Chouhan.
The case was referred by a court to Lokayukta for investigation. The post of Lokayukta was held by former Supreme Court judge P P Naolekar, a dishonesty incarnate. His investigation found nothing illegal in the matter. Later Chouhan’s government made an out-of-turn favour to Naolekar’s son Sandeep Naolekar. In reply to an RTI query by a Damoh social worker Santosh Bharti, the Chouhan government replied that it did not know who Sandeep Naolekar’s father was nor did it know the age, profession or correct address of Sandeep Naolekar.

‘Encounter’ of SIMI activists
Eight SIMI activists, seven of them undertrials and one convict, lodged in the high security Bhopal Central Jail, were reportedly told by the jail authorities on the eve of the Diwali that they were being shifted to Indore jail. They were given new clothes and shoes and taken out in vehicles to a hillock, some 10 km from the Bhopal jail and killed. It was claimed as encounter. Chouhan ordered a judicial inquiry by a retired High Court judge S K Pande who gave a report as the police and jail authorities wanted it without even hearing the others.

Shehla Masood murder
RTI activist Shehla Masood was gunned down in front of her house. Then Director-General of Police S K Raut, Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence) R K Shukla (who is DGP now) and other senior police officers reached the spot promptly and messed up with the evidence. Masood was said to have made RTI queries about some illegal mining operations in which involvement of Chouhan’s close relations was alleged. She was also said to have made queries about the late Anil Dave’s Narmada Samagra. Dave had an unusual hold over Chouhan and was running several rackets with the help of Chouhan. The police, or the CBI which had later taken up the investigation, did not even question top police officers nor did they interrogate retired Medico-Legal Institute Director D K Satpathy who had prepared a made-to-order post mortem examination report. Meddling with murder evidence attracts imprisonment and deprivation of post-retirement benefits. Could these high government officers have taken the risk without an assurance from the Chief Minister?

Sabharwal murder
Prof. H S Sabharwal (of Madhav College of Ujjain) was beaten to death allegedly by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists enraged at the Professor’s decision to postpone the students’ union elections following rowdyism. Six of the top ABVP activists were booked for murder. Chouhan’s police bungled the investigation. Supreme Court, while transferring the hearing of the case from Ujjain court to Nagpur court disapproved of the police conduct and made some harsh remarks. The Nagpur court acquitted all of them saying the police could not produce evidence of their involvement in the murder.

Disappearance of a rape victim
A girl, belonging to a poor family of Indore, was gang-raped. The girl’s parents met chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan during the latter’s visit to Indore a little after the incident and the chief minister promised early arrest of the perpetrators of the heinous crime as well as some financial help to the family. Months passed and nothing happened. The girl, along with her mother, travelled to Bhopal to meet the chief minister and remind him of his promises. They were sitting near gate number six of the Chief Minister’s residence (where the Chief Minister met the petitioners). From there the girl disappeared. Neither the girl nor her mother have been traceable since then.

Hit and run victim
A middle-aged man was going on his two-wheeler to his shop around one in the afternoon. On the wide road in the MP Nagar, a car hit him from behind and sped away before anybody could read the number of the car. The victim received head injuries and fell unconscious but he, somehow, survived.
What made the incident different from such other happenings was that the victim in this case was Raman Rusiya, younger brother of Madan Gopal Rusiya, who was the Bhopal Development Authority (BDA) chief executive officer (CEO), and was taken to Delhi by BJP MLA Jitendra Daga (whose land was marked to be acquired by the BDA for development of new colonies) but never returned to Bhopal. His body was recovered from a ditch near the railway track, some 30 kms away from Agra. Madan Gopal’s family members, his hit-and-run victim younger brother included, had been talking of a high level conspiracy to eliminate Madan Gopal and demanding a CBI inquiry. However, the district police chief ruled out a foul play even without it was known whose car it was or who was driving it when it hit Raman Rusiya.

Death by ritual shooting
There were scores of RSS activists assembled at the Saraswati Shishu Mandir at Kotra locality (of Bhopal) on the day of the Dussehra for “Shastra Pooja” (worship of weapons). RSS Pracharak Naresh Motwani, in his late forties, arrived. There was the sound of a gunshot and all those present escaped. Two RSS activists, having come from outside, arrived there half an hour later and found Motwani’s body lying in a pool of blood. They carried him in the auto in which they had come and took him to the hospital where he was declared brought dead.
The district police chief ruled out a foul play even though neither the weapon of offence had been recovered nor had it been known who had fired it. Four days later, following tremendous pressure from the people in general, and Motwani’s relations in particular, a case of causing death by negligence against unknown person(s) was registered. Motwani’s son, Vijay, had all along been saying that his father had been murdered.

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Justice Prakash Prabhakar Naolekar, the new Lokayukta of Madhya Pradesh, has held out the assurance that he will make the Lokayukta Organisation a true guardian of public interest and dispose of the complaints strictly on merit, without pride and prejudice and without succumbing to pressure. In fact, he has said it in too many words during his interaction with the media after being sworn-in in Bhopal’s Raj Bhavan.

Samples: he has never in his life worked under anybody’s pressure; he will perform his duties with honesty in future also; he is not bothered with anyone’s likes or dislikes; he will go strictly by the evidence; there will be no delay (in disposal of cases) on his part; the cases will be disposed of as soon as the evidence is produced; he will not allow the platform of the Lokayukta Organisation to be misused by any one; every one is equal before him, whether he is a minister or any ordinary person; and lastly, his priority is 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 is only a couple of months old and relates to Ravi Nandan Singh, who resigned as Advocate-General of Madhya Pradesh exactly a week before Naolekar was sworn in as the Lokayukta. Singh had stated that he had resigned “on moral grounds” because of the complaint against him before the Lokayukta.

It may not be freaky to assume that Ravi Nandan Singh’s recommendation as Advocate-General of the State has played an important role in the selection of Naolekar for the Lokayukta’s office. Naolekar was practising law in Jabalpur, as had been his father and grandfather. Ravi Nandan Singh’s karmabhoomi is also Jabalpur. Singh might have occasions to appear before Naolekar when he was judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court (which has its main bench at Jabalpur) from June 1992 to April 1994 (when he was transferred to the Rajasthan High Court). After his retirement from the Supreme Court on June 29 last year, Naolekar had been living again in Jabalpur where Singh was the Advocate-General and his wife Sushila Singh is the Mayor of the Jabalpur Municipal Corporation. Naolekar was reported to have been attending the functions of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan in Jabalpur where the Mayor was also sometimes present.

Naolekar’s eagerness to “exonerate”, at the very first opportunity, Ravi Nandan Singh of the charges of accumulating disproportionate assets has naturally created disquietude in the mind of the people who have seen in the past the Lokayukta only trying to curry favour with those in power. The last incumbent, Ripusudan Dayal, only did it much more brazenly. Justice Faizanuddin, the predecessor of Ripusudan Dayal, had seen the ‘politician-bureaucrat-criminal nexus’ as largely responsible for the increase in number of cases of corruption and had virtually accused then chief minister Digvijay Singh of shielding the corrupt.

Shahida Sultan case

And how did Faizanuddin himself act in a case pertaining to Digvijay Singh? The Income-Tax Department raids on the premises of a liquor baron’s establishments had yielded a diary in which were reportedly recorded the sums of hush money paid to various functionaries in the Digvijay Singh government – the chief minister included. The I-T Department forwarded the relevant records to the Lokayukta for an investigation. Even without registering a case or starting a preliminary investigation, Faizanuddin had, in a statement, ruled out payment of hush money to Digvijay Singh. Faizanuddin is also a former Supreme Court judge.

The Shahida Sultan case illustrates vividly the working of the Lokayukta Organisation. She was picked up, on a tip-off, by the Lokayukta police at the Bhopal railway station as she alighted from the Karnataka Express in the night of May 8, 1997 with a suitcase containing over Rs six lakh. Shahida was a Police Inspector and was on deputation to the Transport Department. She was posted at a check-post on the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh border in Khandwa district.

The Lokayukta police investigated the case and filed a challan in the special court under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The special court sentenced her on July 31, 2007 to two years’ rigorous imprisonment for being in possession of assets disproportionate to her known sources of income. Was that Shahida’s only crime? To say that Shahida was making money at the check-post for herself and was occasionally bringing suitcases full of currency notes to keep at home is simply ridiculous. For whom did she bring the suitcase?

There were curious turns in the investigation of the Shahida case. A relative of hers, Javed Mirza, came forward to claim that the money in the suitcase belonged to him and that Shahida was bringing it to deliver to him. He, however, could not produce any evidence to substantiate his claim. He was also sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, along with Shahida, by the special court.

The most deplorable turn in the case came when the State Government moved an application in the special court, through none but the prosecuting counsel (who was representing the Lokayukta Organisation), for withdrawal of the case “in public interest”.

Why had Shahida Sultan, a small fry in the system, become so important to the high-ups in the government that they shamelessly trampled all decency and propriety to save her? And what was the “public interest” involved in her acquittal? No one, who has an iota of intelligence, can believe that the concern of the then chief minister and his coterie was merely for a police inspector who had a small hobby of stacking in a suitcase currency notes obtained through illegitimate means and coming to Bhopal once in a while to dump the suitcase in her house. Since the investigation of the case was so thoroughly bungled by the Lokayukta police, the people would never know for whom the suitcase was meant or how many suitcases she had delivered earlier there.

It may not be appropriate to draw conclusions about Naolekar’s intentions on the basis of his selection of the first case even though some may see in this an eagerness to help a friend. Some really challenging cases are before him — and these include the corruption complaints against about a dozen ministers of the State. Perhaps the most important is the complaint against chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and his wife Sadhna Singh, known as the dumper scam, the investigation of which has already been substantially bungled by Naolekar’s predecessor Ripusudan Dayal.


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No liberty, peace or justice!

When there are too many policemen, there can be no liberty;
When there are too many soldiers, there can be no peace;
When there are too many lawyers, there can be no justice.
— Lin Yutang

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