CBI to seek co-operation from Maxis

C Sivasankaran, who heads $3 billion conglomerate, Siva Group, with operations in realty, telecom, shipping and other areas, had alleged in his statement to the CBI that he was forced by the then telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran to sell his stake in Aircel to Maxis

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will soon approach Maxis, a Malaysian-based firm, for co-operation in its probe on alleged forced sale of shares from Aircel to it at the behest of the then telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, reports PTI.

Sources in the agency said that Maxis will be asked to join the probe and respond to allegations made by former Aircel chief C Sivasankaran.

Mr Sivasankaran, who heads $3 billion conglomerate, Siva Group, with operations in realty, telecom, shipping and other areas, had alleged in his statement to the CBI that he was forced by Mr Maran to sell his stake in Aircel to Maxis.

Mr Sivasankaran had alleged that his applications for licences were rejected when Mr Maran was the telecom minister in 2006, forcing him to sell his company to Maxis, whose owner is considered to be close to Mr Maran and his brother Kalanidhi, who owns Sun TV.

Mr Maran is alleged to have granted 14 licences to Dishnet Wireless (Aircel) during his tenure as the telecom minister.

CBI is looking into financial transactions of Sun TV and Maxis. Besides, it is also looking into various aspects of takeover of Aircel by Maxis group, the sources said.

Maxis has 74% stake in Aircel which has presence in 23 telecom circles in different states.

The probe agency has already registered a preliminary enquiry on issues in second generation (2G) spectrum allocation between 2001 and 2007 and is actively looking into matter.

The PE was registered against 'unknown persons' following a Supreme Court directive to detect any alleged anomaly in the 'first-come-first-serve' during the spectrum allocation between 2001 and 2007.

Mr Maran may soon be 'examined' by the CBI in connection with his alleged role in persuading Mr Sivasankaran to sell his stake to a Malaysia-based group, the sources said.

They said Mr Maran, who resigned as textile minister last month, will be asked to answer allegations levelled by Mr Sivasankaran on spectrum policy changes made during his tenure as telecom minister.

They said CBI would soon wrap up the PE on the issue of spectrum allocation during the period 2001-07 which spans across three telecom ministers-Pramod Mahajan, Arun Shourie and Dayanidhi Maran-before registering a regular case.

Before registering a regular case, Mr Maran will be given an opportunity to appear before CBI and give his statement, the sources said.

Arun Shourie, who had held the charge of telecom ministry between 2003 and 2004, recorded his statement with the CBI on 25th February about allocation of telecom airwaves during his tenure but the agency has so far not found anything against him, they said.

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MCA to launch new settlement scheme for defaulting cos

Under the 'Company Law Settlement Scheme-2011', MCA has also decided to grant immunity to defaulting companies from prosecution and charge only 25% of additional pay payable if erring corporates file their documents

Chandigarh: The ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) is going to launch new 'settlement' scheme from 12th August for defaulting companies who have not filed their statutory documents with the Registrar of Companies, reports PTI.

Under the 'Company Law Settlement Scheme-2011', MCA has decided to even grant immunity to defaulting companies from prosecution and charge only 25% of additional pay payable if erring corporates file their documents.

"The new scheme is being launched throughout the country in order to give an opportunity to defaulting companies to enable them to make their default good by filing such belated documents and to become a regular compliant in future," the Registrar of Companies, Raj Singh said here today.

The scheme will come into force from 12th August and will remain in force up to 31 October 2011.

The Ministry has observed that because of non-filling of statutory documents (balance sheets and annual returns) by a large number of companies, records are not updated and thereby stakeholders could not inspect the same, he added.

Mr Singh said in Punjab, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh, about 8,000 companies had not filed their balance sheets and annual returns with Registrar of Companies.

The registrar will be taking action under Companies Act, 1956 against defaulting companies who do not avail the settlement scheme, he said.

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CAG says Adarsh scam shows failure of governance at all levels

The CAG report reveals how select members from the Services and the civilian administration, politicians and individuals connected with them, benefitted from the illegal construction of the 31-storey building in the heart of Mumbai

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said that the Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society (Adarsh CHS) episode poses serious questions of probity, integrity and ethics in public life and among public servants, which need to be addressed by the polity and it also displays failure at all levels of governance.

In a report, submitted in Parliament today, the CAG said, "The entire process of allocation of land to the (Adarsh) society, obtaining no objection from the Army, obtaining modification to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) development plan, getting a no-objection certificate (NOC) for residential development in coastal regulation zone (CRZ), obtaining NOC from Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking (BEST) for transfer of developmental rights of the adjoining land, getting additional floor space index (FSI), raising the height of the building, was riddled with instances of decisions being taken by those who exploited their official capacity for personal benefit."

"The episode of Adarsh CHS reveals how a group of select officials, placed in key posts, could subvert rules and regulations in order to grab prime government land-a public property-for personal benefit. They resorted to falsification of records, suppression of facts, ruse of welfare of servicemen and their widows and children, flouting of acts and rules," the CAG noted.

It said that the case is particularly alarming as individuals across the governance system at many levels have participated in this deceit and benefitted from it. The public has trusted these public servants to safeguard its interests, but there is enough evidence that they betrayed the fiduciary trust and acted against all norms of public interest and probity, the report added.

In February 2000, Ramchandra Sonelal Thakur, a serving sub-divisional officer (SDO) in the Defence Estates Office (DEO), Mumbai, in his capacity as chief promoter of Adarsh CHS, wrote a letter to the chief minister of Maharashtra for allotment of 38,542 square metres of land in Block VI of Backbay Reclamation Scheme (BBR) at Colaba, for the construction of a residential building, for the welfare of serving and retired personnel of defence services.

 "The letter of the chief promoter (RS Thakur) would clearly indicate the knowledge that the land was in the possession of the Army. However, the title of the land was never transferred to the Ministry of Defence. As subsequent events would prove, this fact of possession of land by the Army without holding the title of the land was exploited in full, to misappropriate the land for private benefit," the CAG observed.

From the very beginning, the welfare of the servicemen and ex-servicemen in one form or the other was used as a ruse to grab this piece of public land. In various correspondences from the Society, defence authorities and the Government of Maharashtra at different points of time, the prime reason for allotment of the land has been described as welfare of service personnel and ex-servicemen.

'Girls' hostel for wards of army officers posted in far flung areas', 'Welfare of Kargil war heroes', 'Welfare of widows of servicemen', 'Welfare of soldiers who have served their motherland' were used as grounds on almost all occasions for seeking relaxations in favour of the Society at different points of time.

The report by CAG said, "It would be only reasonable to conclude that though references to 'widows' and 'Kargil Heroes' was being repeatedly made, such could never have been the intention, as these individuals would not have the financial capability to meet the cost of apartments in this structure."

The chronology of the events shows the alacrity with which the varied requests of the Adarsh CHS were attended to. It illustrates how permissions were sought, and granted, on grounds, which do not now stand to public scrutiny. It also indicates how vague clearances, susceptible to multiple interpretations, were provided to facilitate the rather dubious intentions of the members and promoters of the Society.

The complicity, as is evident, is from the organs of the Maharashtra Government, the Armed Forces, the central government and local bodies, each of which is otherwise prone to be intransigent when approached by a common citizen, the report said.

According to CAG observations, all service officers except one, who held charge as General Officer Commanding Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa Area, between February 1998 and July 2010, became beneficiaries as per the lists of members of the Adarsh CHS as made available by Collector of Mumbai city.

By 2002, Admiral Madhvendra Singh, former Chief of Naval Staff, and Lt Gen GS Sihota, had become members of the Adarsh CHS, apart from many other officers from the Army and the Navy. Eventually, General NC Vij and General Deepak Kapoor, former chiefs of army staff, also became members of the Adarsh CHS.

"Notable among the service officers who became members of the Society at a later date were two former Chiefs of Army Staff, General NC Vij and General Deepak Kapoor. Both of them were allowed to be members of the Society as 'one-time special case' keeping in view their noteworthy service in the Indian Army and their social status," the CAG said.

The list of the members as intimated by Adarsh CHS to the Mumbai City Collector, on 10 April 2000, indicated that the Society largely comprised members belonging to the defence services and civilian organisations related to defence. Out of the 40 members, 30 were serving and retired service officers, eight belonged to Defence Estates Office, one officer belonged to the Military Engineer Services (MES) and one was a widow of a retired MES employee. However, the final list of 102 members as of 2010 included 37 defence officers, including civilians, 15 retired government servants, eight Members of Parliament or state legislatures and 42 individuals, who were mostly relatives of government officers and politicians.

At almost every stage, the Maharashtra government extended significant concessions in favour of the Adarsh CHS. Many officers-both civilian and services-who were dealing with the case and were instrumental in taking those decisions, eventually became members of the Society. In some cases, relations of these officers became the members.

The Urban Development Department (UDD), in April 2002 approved modifications to the MMRDA development plan, deleting a 60.97 metres wide road leading to the south Colaba harbour link and reducing the width of Captain Prakash Pethe Marg from 60.97 metres, to a mere 18.40 metres, and the inclusion of the deleted area in the residential zone, parade ground, helipad, garden and BEST Depot.

However, the CAG said, "During the audit, it was noticed that on past occasions, the Government of Maharashtra had decided against allotment of the land for genuine welfare of ex-servicemen on the ground that the land was earmarked for widening of the very same road."

On 17 March 2003, Mr Thakur wrote a letter for allotment of additional FSI of adjoining plot of 2669.68 sq metres used by BEST as approach road to its depot on payment of reasonable charges. "Interestingly, in his letter, the chief promoter termed the use of the land by BEST as 'unauthorized' and also stated that BEST cannot use the FSI of this land for expansion of depot due to CRZ restrictions," the report noted.

Initially, BEST was reluctant to transfer the FSI to Adarsh CHS. However, Ramanand Tiwari, principal secretary of the UDD gave a proposal to BEST, which the public undertaking could not fulfil and subsequently agreed to transfer the FSI to Adarsh CHS.

"It would be clear from the meetings that the proposal of the Principal Secretary to ask BEST to pay for the land, amounted to a threat which possibly compelled BEST to succumb to agree with the proposal of the Society. Asking a public utility to pay the market price of the land essentially to compel them to agree to transfer the FSI in favour of the private society was blatant violation of all norms of public interest. While BEST was asked to pay the cost of land at the market rate, the Society paid only Rs6.14 crore," the CAG report noted.

Read the complete CAG report on the Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society case

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COMMENTS

Shivkumar

5 years ago

ADARSH, the name tells it all. How adarsh our fellows are. We are simply cribbing about some Babus and Politicos getting a flat or two in Adarsh, South Mumbai.

All these persons have been working for the country and they are so honest, all they were asking was for one flat per clearance. What wrong did they commit?

In fact, many of them were forced to accept a flat which they never asked for. Many of them are so poor that not every member of the family owns a separate flat.

So, let us not envy them, when India is for sale, they have only bought a piece of land sorry flat for themselves and that too with their hard earned money or a loan given by a well wisher.

If Ministers can get hectares of land for their "Trusts" for a pittance, why do we grumble these poor government workers for the crumbs thrown at them.

After all, India comprises only of two classes, the LOOTERS and the ORDINARY CITIZENS.

HAVING PUT LOOTERS IN POWER WHAT ELSE IS EXPECTED. IF U MAKE A CROOK THE POLICEMAN WHAT WOULD U EXPECT.


Govind Shanbhag

5 years ago

MDT - they say in USA, offices such as CBI/ IRS/Police are extremely independent and all bureaucrats, politicians including President are scared of them. Watergate scandal is the one which unseated serving President. It is nice to see at present CAG, who is part of Government is coming out with startling revelations which is a healthy sign. When will other so called independent organisations/ departments function without fear and forthright ?

SILVERNITRATE

5 years ago

why are IAS officers able to get away all the time; also the judiciary whose controversial land allotment in Bandra East has been a subject matter of litigation but no MEDIA coverage.

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