Nation
Dayanidhi Maran quizzed by CBI in Aircel-Maxis deal case

CBI sources said Maran was questioned earlier this month, the first time after the agency had registered a regular case against him

 
New Delhi: India’s former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran has been questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the allegations that he had received Rs547 crore as kickbacks from a Malaysian company in the controversial Aircel-Maxis deal, reports PTI.
 
CBI sources said Mr Maran was questioned earlier this month, the first time after the agency had registered a regular case against him, his brother Kalanithi Maran, Sun Direct TV Pvt Director, chairman of Maxis Communication T Ananda Krishnan, senior executive of Astro All Asia Network and Maxis Ralph Marshall and three companies Astro All Asia Networks, Sun Direct TV and Maxis Communications on charges of complicity.
 
Mr Maran’s statement was recorded. He shared information of whatever he remembered with the CBI, the sources said.
 
Mr Maran was earlier examined by the CBI in September 2011 when the agency had registered a preliminary enquiry into the case but no questioning or recording of statement was done at that point.
 
The CBI had also carried out searches at his residence and nine other locations after registering a case against him last year in connection with the controversial Aircel-Maxis deal.
 
It has been alleged by former Aircel chief C Sivasankaran that Mr Maran as the then telecom minister favoured Maxis-group in the takeover of his company and in return, investments were made by the company through Astro network in Sun TV owned by the Maran family.
 
CBI claimed quid-pro-quo on part of the then telecom minister has been established during the probe. It has also been proved during the CBI probe that there is direct evidence that files of Sivasankaran were deliberately delayed, sources said.
 
“CBI has registered case against Maran brothers, Ralph Marshall and T Anandkrishnan and three companies under section 120b of the Indian Penal Code (criminal conspiracy) read with 13(2) with 13(1)(d) and also section 7 and 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The case was registered on 9th October. Searches were conducted at Delhi and southern Chennai city,” CBI spokesperson had said after registering of the case last year.
 
At 12.49pm, Sun TV was trading 12.1% down at Rs259 on the BSE, while the benchmark Sensex was up 1.7% to 16,917.
 

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SC notice to Centre on PIL challenging FM's role in SEBI appointments

The apex court issued notice to union government on a PIL challenging Finance Minister's power to nominate two members in the search and selection board for appointment of SEBI chairman and full time members

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre on a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the Finance Minister's power to nominate two members in the search and selection board for appointment of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) chairman and full time members.

 

A bench headed by Justice SS Nijjar, however, refused to stay Rule 3 (5)(e) of SEBI (Terms and Conditions of Service of Chairman and Members) Rules, 1992, which empower the Finance Minister to nominate two members.

 

The court passed the order on a petition filed by former IPS officer Julio Ribeiro and other members of civil society alleging that the rules framed by the government were contrary to the SEBI Act.

 

Ribeiro had earlier also approached the apex court challenging appointment of UK Sinha as SEBI chairman on the same ground, but the court had refused to entertain his plea on the ground that the allegations levelled in the petition were of personal nature.

 

The petitioner later filed a fresh PIL dropping all those allegations and challenging only the rules framed by the government.

 

The apex court on 21st November declined to entertain a plea questioning the appointment of Sinha as SEBI Chairman, saying it is aimed against an individual under the garb of raising legal and constitutional issues.

 

Ribeiro, in his earlier petition, had submitted that the new procedure, stipulating a five-member panel for selection of the SEBI chief in place of the existing three members, was wrong and there was an ulterior motive behind it.

 

The petition had alleged that rules were changed for appointment of the SEBI chairman and members under corporate pressure.

 

The government had refuted the allegations and had submitted an affidavit, which had said Sinha was the unanimous choice of the search and selection panel and no undue favour was shown to him by his appointment at the post.

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COMMENTS

Rajkumar Singh

4 years ago

It appears to be a futile attempt.

Please update me about this case, if possible. I am curious to know about the fate of this case.

Rajkumar Singh

4 years ago

It appears to be a futile attempt.

Please update me about this case, if possible. I am curious to know about the fate of this case.

Rajkumar Singh

4 years ago

It appears to be a futile attempt.

Please update me about this case, if possible. I am curious to know about the fate of this case.

SEZs have become real estate ventures linked to money-laundering, says EAS Sarma

EAS Sarma, former secretary of the GoI, alleged that SEZs in general have not come out gloriously in terms of what was expected and most of them have become real estate ventures linked to money-laundering

 
EAS Sarma, former secretary to the Government of India (GoI) has alleged that most of the special economic zones (SEZs) in the country have become real estate ventures lined to money laundering.
 
Mr Sarma, in a letter to the commerce secretary, GoI, said, “Those who promote SEZs have gained the impression that they can violate any law of the land with the blessings of the politicians and the local authorities. The nexus among the SEZ promoters, the politicians and the officials has generated large amounts of black money, a subject that has attracted the attention of the highest court of the country.”
 
“Several of them (SEZs) have bypassed the environment laws of the country and have turned out to be sources of toxic pollution. Many are carrying on illegitimate activities surreptitiously and ironically, their crimes seem to get exposed, not by our regulators but the regulatory authorities abroad, as was the case with Visakhapatnam SEZ,” the former secretary alleged.
 
SEZs have dealt a serious blow to agriculture and have become a threat to food security, Mr Sarma said, adding that almost all the SEZs have resulted in dispossessing small farmers and fishing communities of their precious lands and their legitimate access to the sea. “By their very nature, SEZs represent ‘no democracy’ islands. Even before the setting up of an SEZ, no genuine public consultation ever takes place. Once set up, some SEZ promoters have denied access to the regulators,” he said.
 
Mr Sarma, requesting an independent investigation and outright cancellation of approval, especially for the Kakinada SEZ (KSEZ), said, “I have been hearing serious allegations about the irregular deals that have taken place in the case of KSEZ. Apparently, a few individuals and promoters are hand in glove with the state authorities and the local revenue and other officials.”
 
Here are the observations noted by Mr Sarma about the KSEZ...
 
1. In the list of approved SEZs of the commerce ministry’s website, there are two KSEZs, one approved in 2007 (SO 635 dated 23 April 2007) and another approved recently at 50th meeting of the Board of Approvals (BoA) held on 24 January 2012, both multi-product SEZs. The first one is for 1035.7 hectares in Ramannakkapeta and AV Nagaram Mandals. The second one is for 1013.6 hectares in Ponnada, Mulapeta and Ramannakkapeta Mandals. Strangely, the approval for the latter was based on such a sketchy basis that the Board never cared to find out whether an earlier KSEZ already stood approved and whether the latest one was its extension. The Board never bothered to question the state on its version that that the land at issue was in the ‘possession’ of the promoter. As will be presently shown, such possession accrued on the basis of a series of illegalities punishable under the relevant Acts and rules. The Board’s secretariat has much to answer!
 
2. As per the information available, the total extent of this SEZ is 8,321 acres. According to some reports, the area is more than 10,000 acres. On the other hand, BoA has imposed a ceiling of 5,000 acres on an individual SEZ. Has BoA cleverly bypassed its own policy by approving two different KSEZs to circumvent the limit? Also, the extent of area of KSEZ de facto is much more than what BoA has approved. There is a vigilance angle in this.
 
3. The promoters have been trying to grab more and more land illegally with help of the local authorities and the blessings of the politicians. For example, the rehabilitation colony itself is outside the notified SEZ area, though the promoters have been claiming it!
 
4. KSEZ has had a chequered track record. It was originally conceived as an ONGC venture to be located in the uplands of East Godavari district. On the basis of misreporting of the facts by the district authorities and the clandestine land transactions carried by one, KV Rao, its location shifted to the fertile agricultural lands of Ramannakkapeta and AV Nagaram Mandals, a decision contrary to commerce ministry’s policy of not diverting agricultural land for SEZs. The successive district collectors were willing parties to this jugglery. Apparently, they colluded with the promoters and the politicians.
 
5. A spot inspection will reveal the nature of the lands in question. They are fertile agricultural lands, mostly, two-crop lands.
 
6. KV Rao has purchased agricultural lands on his own name from the farmers and the total extent purchased by him far exceeded the ceiling set under the AP Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973. The purchase documents do not carry the signatures of all the stakeholders of each piece of land and are therefore prima facie void. There is no clearance obtained by anyone so far for converting the land-use of these lands for non-agricultural purposes. This in itself constitutes an illegality. The state government has issued questionable GOs exempting the transactions from stamp and registration fees. Apparently, money changed hands in all these deals.
 
7. Neither of these KSEZs has any statutory clearance from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 or under Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). Several stretches of the land have coastal mangroves and forests. There are several water bodies and water courses. There is a rich biodiversity. The promoters have no consent for establishment (CFE) from the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB). Still, without any prior clearances, the promoters have entered the lands illegally for preparatory works. The local revenue officials and police officers acted as though they were on the promoter’s pay roll. On this basis alone, this SEZ should be dropped as the promoters have no respect for the law of the land.
 
8. In the normal course, as per the conditions precedent to approval, the first KSEZ approved in 2007 should have been cancelled by now as the promoter had failed to start the work. Still, under pressure, the Board has granted repeated extensions. This calls for an investigation.
 
9. There is all round public opposition to this SEZ. The district collector has never cared to get the project proposal discussed at the Gram Sabhas. The opposition to KSEZ is similar to the opposition to Raigarh SEZ in Maharashtra where the SEZ had to be dropped.
 
10. On a writ filed before AP High Court, the court ordered that “possession of the land in question shall not be taken except in accordance with the law by the state”. The state has not apparently complied with this order.
 
11. The district collector had notified under section 4(1) around 8,120 acres of land under Land Acquisition Act (LAA). Once the lands are so notified, no private land transactions are permitted. Still, in full public glare, in the name of KV Rao, such private deals took place and the sale transactions allowed to be registered, circumventing the LAA provisions and the AP Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973. Apparently, the initial LAA notification is irregular as there was no “public purpose” involved, since the transaction was carried out in the name of an individual. Later, the LAA notification itself was allowed to be infringed. Subsequently, even the AP Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973 was allowed to be violated. The land transactions should not have been registered in the first instance as the lands were covered under Section 4 notification under LAA.
 
12. The LAA notification in itself has prevented the farmers from leading their normal lives and deprived them of their right to take loans, etc. It constituted a human rights violation. The intent of the SEZ scheme was that lands would be leased, not acquired from the owners. Neither the ministry of commerce nor the state respected this requirement.
 
13. The large time gap between Section 4 notification (LAA) and payment of compensation and handing over the possession of the land mandated the district authorities to revoke LAA notification and return the land to the owners. This requirement has been violated.
 
14. GMR company has recently acquired the majority share in KSEZ. The names of the original promoters did not figure anywhere in BOA’s proceedings. Who were they? What was the source of their funding? Who is KV Rao and what was his locus standi before GMR entered the picture? These are issues that should be looked into by the Department of Revenue, Enforcement Directorate, SFIO and Revenue Intelligence.
 
15. What have been the land transactions between GMR group companies (GMR Energy) and KSEZ? Is BOA aware of the same?
 
The former secretary asked the commerce secretary that since many statutory violations have taken place in the case of KSEZ, would his ministry and BoA be willing abettors of it? The fact that several land deals in AP have come under judicial scrutiny and the CBI has undertaken a detailed investigation and the fact that some politicians and senior officials have already been sent to jail corroborate the allegations that have surfaced time and again about KSEZ.
 
“... (Commerce) ministry should get this case investigated by an independent agency like CBI. In any case, I am requesting Central Vigilance Commission to get this investigated by CBI as the public interest involved in this case is far too important to be glossed over. I am requesting CVC to look into the role of not only your ministry but also the role played by the state government including its politicians, senior officers and the local officials so that a comprehensive picture of the goings on in KSEZ may emerge," Mr Sarma said. 
 

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COMMENTS

mehereswar

4 years ago

Actually the whole concept of the SEZ is to improve the economic growth and industrial growth of the Nation by attracting the Foreign investments.
It is very unfortune that eminent people like EAS Sarma, IAS in whose tenure the Industrial growth has happend with pace are seeing only the negative side without considering the ground realities.
For any development an industrialist or a politician or any one person cannot do anything alone. One has to have the cooperation of Local people, political and Beurocratic support, collectively only development will happen, parllelly the friction need to be smoothen.

srimanth reddy

4 years ago

It is quite unfortunate that, Mr. EAS Sarma, former secretary of the GoI, has stated that ‘SEZs have become real estate ventures linked to money-laundering’, where in as per the SEZ Act 2005, a developer cannot sell the land and it can leased to Industries after developing the necessary infrastructure in the Special Economic Zones. There would be a Development Commissioner from GoI who will allot the land to Industrialist in SEZs.
Mr. Sarma has completely given his views only and he has not shown any interest to know the facts from other side.

REPLY

ARIVND REDDY

In Reply to srimanth reddy 4 years ago

HI THIS IS DR.ARVIND REDDY SIR CAN U LET ME THE NORMS FOR SEZ AND MOST COMMON VOILATIONS I AM FACING A WORST PHASE OF PROBLEMS WIITH A LOCAL SEZ PEOPLE AROUND MY LAND I HAVE COLLECTED THE MOST POSSIBLE DOCUMENTS I CAN HOW DO I GET MORE OF AN INFORMATION ABOUT A SEZ AND PERTAINING RULES AND REGULATIONS
THANKING YOU

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