Perhaps, for the first time in recent period so many big political leaders have been issued statutory notices for illegal acts done by them. As per the statutory notice if they do not dismantle their illegal constructions, they all will face prosecution
The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has issued statutory notices to several big names in Maharashtra politics, like deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, Punjab governor Shivraj Patil Chakurkar, ministers Anil Deshmukh and Patangrao Kadam, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopinath Munde and state Congress chief Manikrao Thakare for removing illegal constructions in their commercial premises.
The BMC has issued the notices following complaints and a legal notice by social activist Amit Maru. All these big politicians have made changes to their allotted residential and commercial space at Sukhda Shubhada Co-operative Housing Society at the upmarket Worli area in Mumbai.
The notice issued by the BMC says...
“You are therefore hereby called upon:
To remove unauthorized addition & alteration ….. & discontinue the said unauthorized user from shop to office carried out beyond part occupation Certificate/ plan sanctioned u/No EE/5561/GS/A dt.16.10.2004
Within one month from the date of receipt of this notice by you:.
Please note that on failure to comply with the aforesaid requisition, you will be liable for prosecution under the said Act and the aforesaid requisitions you will be carried out at your risk and cost.”
According to Yogesh Pratap Singh, former IPS officer and now a well-known advocate and activist, this society was been built on the land earlier owned by Mumbai police. “Incidentally, this land was taken away from the home department and given to the political leaders of our nation for constructing posh flats and commercial premises,” he said.
The other big names who have been issued such a notice, include Ranjit Deshmukh, former minister, Anna Dange, vice-president of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Pratapsinh Mohite Patil, Salil Deshmukh (son of Anil Deshmukh) and Ashok Patil.
“Since such large numbers of senior politicians have indulged in such illegal acts, therefore the conditions of allotment stand vitiated. Hence it would be desirable that the allotment of this land be cancelled and the land be reverted to the police department, which is desperately in need of setting up anti-terror and anti-crime units in the centre of the city and Worli is the ideal location for that. These units are required to tackle 26/11 type terror attacks on an efficient basis,” Mr Singh said.
Earlier, bureaucrat-turned-activist Abha Singh and Mr Maru, have alleged that Mr Munde, who is also deputy leader of BJP in Lok Sabha, was refusing to close his office at the society despite orders from the BMC.
According to advocate Singh, the BJP leader has merged shops originally allotted as convenience shops and connected it to the basement in Shubhda Co-operative Housing Society.
She said, the BMC sent a notice to Mr Munde, however, the BJP leader and others are not complying with the orders. “It is believed that for the reason of refusal to remove office and other illegal acts, the municipal corporation is now considering strict action of filing an FIR in the matter and to start demolition proceedings. We will also be shortly moving the Environment Department for action under the Environment Protection Act, 1986,” Adv Singh had said. (read more Gopinath Munde defies BMC order to close his Worli office )
The Reserve Bank of India’s investigation into tainted private banks which were caught in a Cobrapost sting operation, has now spread to cooperative banks which appear to be the main conduit for the private sector banks to launder money
While the banking secretary announced last evening that action will be taken against the three private sector banks that were caught laundering money in the Cobrapost sting operation, Moneylife has learnt from banking sources that the trail of the money laundering investigation is leading up to a large number of cooperative banks across the country, who first accept cash and introduce it into the banking system.
Banking sources tell us that scores of cooperative banks have been found literally acting as a back-office for initiating the conversion from black money to white money. They happily accept fake PAN cards and dodge detection by opening hundreds of accounts without proper KYC with each deposit carefully under Rs50,000. The money is then transferred to the larger private banks, through a prior arrangement, allowing these ‘successful’ Indian private banks to maintain a clean image.
It is not surprising that cooperative banks are in the thick of dirty banking operations. They have been in the heart of every major scam over the past two decades. In the 1992 securities scam Mercantile Cooperative and Bank of Karad were found to be involved in issuing false securities and had to be closed down. Then too, multi-national banks such as Standard Chartered systematically ensured that fake Banking Receipts (BRs) were passed through the smaller banks, in order to protect themselves. However, they were caught when the multi-disciplinary Janakiraman Committee began to investigate their actions with a fine-tooth comb. Again in the scam of 2000, Ketan Parekh was found to have used Madhavpura Cooperative Bank as his own personal property in diverting cash Rs800 crore to support his speculative positions. The bank has collapsed causing losses to tens of thousand ordinary depositors and other banks. Cooperative banks were at the centre of the Home Trade scam too in 2001 Rs600 crore were found to have been swindled from more than 25 cooperative banks —13 of them in Maharashtra and 12 in Gujarat.
The reason cooperative banks have repeatedly been at the centre of scams is the shady system of dual regulation, under which both Registrar of Cooperative Societies (RoCS) and the RBI are supposed to be regulating them. RoCS officials say that the RBI does not look closely at these banks, while the RBI says it waits for government recommendations to act as the State's Cooperatives Department has its auditors on the boards of the banks. The primary reason for this poor scrutiny is that most cooperative banks are set up and controlled by powerful politicians.
Banking sources in several banks, other than the three private banks which were part of the Cobrapost money laundering sting, tell us that the RBI has been asking detailed questions. They estimate that nearly two dozen banks may be under the RBI scanner, based on the questions they have been asked to answer. However, the banking secretary has so far spoken of an RBI report that only covers the three banks—Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank. We also learn that the banking regulator has already found large instances of systematic mis-selling of financial products, dubious gratification of sales agents and evidence of the money laundering unearthed by the sting operation.
Moneylife has consistently pointed out that driven by high commissions, an army of bank relationship managers are systematically targeting vulnerable segments such as women and senior citizens through misrepresentation and deceit. The latest example of this is the cheating by IndusInd bankers of a 79-year old man in India with an ailing wife, which Moneylife exposed a few days ago, (Mangelal Sharma gets his Rs7 lakh back—another Moneylife victory). A strong Moneylife campaign of naming and shaming has finally borne fruit and last night the bank officials went to the senior citizen’s house and returned his money. The RBI is aware of this menace and hopefully it will do something about this, too.
Moneylife has also been categorical that dubious KYC practices are not limited to three banks—an investigation would reveal that most foreign banks, private banks and even large public sector banks have been indulging in gross mis-selling at one end and dodgy practices to help powerful politicians launder black money at the other end. At the heart of the fake KYC racket is the proliferation and easy availability of fake PAN numbers. The Income Tax department, riddled with corruption is a part of this mischief. The Aadhar Card, which is already proven to be full of holes has now been added to the array of dubious and easily faked documents that allow people to exploit the system. On the other hand, honest taxpayers continue to be harassed and exploited.
While staying its own judgment in the appointments of information commissioners, the apex court directed that all vacancies to be immediately filled up in all the information commissions in accordance with the RTI Act
The Supreme Court has granted a stay on its own order asking the Information Commissions to work in benches of two members with one of the members having a judicial background. The apex court has also directed all vacancies to be immediately filled up in all the information commissions in accordance with the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
According to RTI activists, this judgement would bring some relief to the operation of the RTI Act. They expect the Supreme Court should stay these parts finally and agree to spell out a transparent process for selection of Information Commissioners.
In its order issued on Tuesday, the Supreme Court said, “We make it clear that subject to orders that may be finally passed after hearing the review petitions, the competent authority will continue to fill up the vacant posts of Information Commissioners in accordance with the Act and in accordance with the judgment in WP (C) No210 of 2012 except sub-paras 108.8 and 108.9 which we have stayed. This is to ensure that functioning of the Information Commissioners in accordance with the Act and the judgment is not affected during the pendency of the review petitions.”
Earlier, the Supreme Court entertained petitioner Namit Sharma’s stand against the Government of India for the need of Chief Information Commissioners to have judicial background, which would require the RTI Act be amended. The Supreme Court, in its controversial judgment on 13 September 2012, stated that, “Information Commissions at respective levels shall henceforth work in benches of two members each. One of them being a ‘judicial member’, while the other an ‘expert member’.”
The Government of India filed for a review of this judgement, since it was also perceived as encroaching on the domain of Parliament. Two interventions were filed by civil society. Aruna Roy, member of the National Advisory Committee (NAC) and Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, represented by Prashant Bhushan, filed one and another was filed by CHRI, which does a lot of work in RTI.
This was heard by the Supreme Court over five days for about seven hours. On 10 December 2012, the judgement was reserved. However, on 20 December one of the judges who had heard the original petition and the review retired. The matter was therefore in a limbo.
Then Ms Roy and Mr Gandhi filed for a stay of the judgement pointing out that the judgement was causing difficulties in the functioning of RTI. While they agreed with the court about the need for a transparent process for selecting Information Commissioners and suggested a method, they pointed out the requirement of two-person benches and retired judges being appointed had caused a stoppage in the work of the Information Commissions in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Jharkhand and Manipur. (Noted RTI activists Shailesh Gandhi and Aruna Roy file Intervention Petition in the Supreme Court)
They also pointed out to the apex court that due to the uncertainty caused by the absence of a judgement in the review, in many states Information Commissioners were not being appointed.
The Supreme Court appreciated the issues and on 16 April 2013 ordered a stay of the parts, which were impeding the working of the Information Commissions. The court stayed the judgement partially and ruled as follows:
We have heard learned counsel for the parties and we are not inclined to stay the operation of the entire judgment in Namit Sharma Vs Union of India but we direct that the following directions in sub-paras 108.8 and 108.9 quoted here-in-below shall remain stayed during the pendency of the Review Petition (C) No. 2309 of 2012.
108.8 The Information Commissions at the respective levels shall henceforth work in Benches of two members each.
One of them being a ‘judicial member’, while the other an ‘expert member’. The judicial member should be a person possessing a degree in law, having judicially trained mind and experience in performing judicial functions. A law officer or a lawyer may also be eligible provided he is a person who has practiced law at least for a period of twenty years as on the date of the advertisement. Such lawyer should also have experience in social work. We are of the considered view that the competent authority should prefer person who is or has been a judge of the high court for appointment as Information Commissioners. Chief Information Commissioner at the Centre or state level shall only be a person who is or has been a chief justice of the high court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
108.9 The appointment of the judicial members to any of these posts shall be made ‘in consultation’ with the Chief Justice of India and chief justices of the high courts of the respective states, as the case may be”.
We further direct that wherever Chief Information Commissioner is of the opinion that intricate questions of law will have to be decided in a matter coming before the Information Commissioners, he will ensure that the matter is heard by a bench of which at least one member has knowledge and experience in the field of Law.
We make it clear that subject to orders that may be finally passed after hearing the review petitions, the competent authority will continue to fill up the vacant posts of Information Commissioners in accordance with the Act and in accordance with the judgment in W.P.(C) No. 210 of 2012 except sub-paras 108.8 and 108.9 which we have stayed. This is to ensure that functioning of the Information Commissioners in accordance with the Act and the judgment is not affected during the pendency of the review petitions.