Railway bribery scam: CBI to summon Bansal for questioning today

The questioning of Bansal will revolve around his role in the appointment of suspended Railway Board member (staff) Mahesh Kumar involving his nephew Vijay Singla who was allegedly caught accepting a bribe of Rs90 lakh

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has summoned former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal for questioning today in connection with the railway bribery case.


Agency sources said that Bansal has been called in the afternoon for questioning in the case.


The questioning of Bansal will revolve around his role in the appointment of suspended Railway Board member (staff) Mahesh Kumar involving his nephew Vijay Singla who was allegedly caught accepting a bribe of Rs90 lakh, the sources said.


Bansal, who had to resign from the Union Cabinet in the aftermath of the case involving his nephew who is alleged to have been operating from his official residence, has been maintaining that he had done no wrong in the appointment of Kumar as member of the Railway Board, a post equivalent to secretary in the government.


While the CBI has managed to secure all files pertaining to the appointment and also recorded the statement of Kumar, his nephew and private secretary Rahul Bhandari, Bansal will be confronted with the evidence collected by the probe agency about his meeting with the suspended Railway Board member in Mumbai on 16th April this year.


Bansal is alleged to have met Kumar in Mumbai on 16th April and the agency claimed that during this meeting the appointment of Kumar, who was general manager (West), was confirmed.


CBI sources said questioning Singla and his associates had led the agency to understand “the role of authority which was supposed to change Kumar's discipline from member (staff) to member (electrical) and allow him to continue with additional charge of GM (West).”


Lateral shifting of the Board members is done in the same manner as the appointment of a new member, which is finalised after vigilance clearance and the nod of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.


There are some telephonic intercepts which may come up during the questioning of Bansal, the sources said.


Over 1,000 phone calls were intercepted during the two-month surveillance on Mahesh Kumar and Singla. CBI has so far arrested nine persons in the case.


Now, you cannot ban guns at the public pool in the US
In a decades-long campaign to deny cities in the US, power to regulate guns, even the smallest local rules are now coming under attack
If you feel unsafe at a public pool in Charleston, W.Va., you may soon have the right to lie there on a towel with a handgun at your side.
For 20 years, Charleston has been an island of modest gun restrictions in a very pro-gun rights state. But its gun laws — including a ban on guns in city parks, pools and recreation centers — are now likely to be rolled back, the latest victory in a long-standing push to deny cities the power to regulate guns.
Since the 1980s, the National Rifle Association and other groups have led a successful campaign to get state legislatures to limit local control over gun regulations. These "preemption" laws block cities from enacting their own gun policies, effectively requiring cities with higher rates of gun violence to have the same gun regulations as smaller towns.
Before 1981, when an Illinois town banned the possession of handguns, just a handful of states had preemption laws on the books. Today, 42 states block cities from making gun laws, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Even Illinois, which has long allowed its cities to pass gun control measures, is about to invalidate local restrictions on concealed handguns and ban any future local regulation of assault weapons.
Gun rights advocates argue that allowing cities to have their own gun laws creates an impossible situation for law-abiding gun owners, who cannot be expected to read ordinances for every town they might pass through.
The preemption campaign has racked up so many victories nationwide, it's now focusing on holdouts like Charleston, population 51,000.
Charleston's current gun restrictions include a three-day waiting period to buy a handgun, and a limit of one handgun purchase per month, as well as bans on guns on publicly owned property, such as parks and pools.
West Virginia Delegate Patrick Lane crafted an amendment to an unrelated state bill, now passed, that will likely force Charleston to erase those restrictions.
"Crime could happen anyplace. You obviously want to be able to defend yourself and your family if something happens," Lane said, when asked why anyone would want to bring a gun to a public pool.
The NRA did not respond to requests for comment, but its website calls Charleston's restrictions "misguided" and "unreasonable." Its site has closely tracked the progress of the repeal of the ordinances, which it states "would have no negative impact whatsoever on Charleston." The site has repeatedly criticized Charleston's Republican mayor for "speaking out publicly against this pro-gun reform."
It's not clear what effect the spread of preemption has had on public safety. "It's very hard to determine what causes crime to go up and down, because there are so many variables," said Laura Cutilletta, a senior attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
But in Charleston, Police Chief Brent Webster says he's worried about losing the city's current restrictions, in particular the law banning guns at city pools, concerts and sporting events.
"You will have some citizens say, 'I can do that now, so I'm going to do that,'" Webster said. "I am greatly concerned."
"When they're diving off the diving board, is that [gun] going to be in a book bag? Is that going to be lying under their towel and an eight-year-old kid is walking through the pool area and picks it up?"
Two of the city's former police chiefs also say they're worried about losing the ban on guns in public places that attract kids.
"That has nothing to do with the Second Amendment right. It has to do with public safety," former Chief Dallas Staples said.
Charleston's mayor, Danny Jones, who's fought to keep the gun restrictions, said the city now has no choice but to do what the state legislature wants and roll them back. The state legislature packaged the rollback requirement with a popular measure giving Charleston more leeway in how it raises taxes.
"I'm still reeling from all this, because it's going to affect us in a very negative way," Jones told reporters after the law passed.
Keith Morgan, president of the West Virginia Citizen's Defense League, a gun rights group, said the group been pushing for an end to Charleston's ordinances for years, and that the change would protect law-abiding gun owners from a "minefield" of conflicting local laws.
Lane, the West Virginia delegate, also said that gun-owning commuters were put at risk as they traveled through different cities with different rules.
But neither Lane nor Morgan could cite an example of a gun owner being prosecuted for accidentally breaking the law during their commute, or by accidentally wandering into a city park. When Morgan himself once showed up at the Charleston Civic Center with a gun, he said, he was simply asked to leave, and he did. In lawsuits the West Virginia Citizen's Defense League filed against gun ordinances in Charleston and Martinsburg, the plaintiffs cited their fear of potential prosecution.
The main burden of Charleston's laws for gun owners has been the inconvenience of waiting three days to purchase a handgun, and only being able to buy one handgun at a time — something that can be particularly troublesome "if you're buying a present for your family and there happens to be a Christmas sale at the retailer," Lane said.
Former Charleston law enforcement officers say the handgun restrictions, passed in 1993, helped the city tamp down on the drugs-for-guns trade that was rampant at the time. But since then, gun stores have sprung up right at the city's borders, said Steve Walker, a former Charleston police officer and now president of the West Virginia branch of the Fraternal Order of Police.
"Honestly, I don't know whether with them repealing it, it is going to help them or hurt them," Walker said of the handgun restrictions.
State legislators said that city officials are overplaying their fears.
"I don't see everyone with a concealed carry permit deciding to go to a pool and carry a gun," said Democrat Mark Hunt, a state delegate, "So what if they do? They're law-abiding citizens."
Charleston’s mayor said he has a plan if somebody brings a gun poolside: “We're going to close down the pool."


Political parties asked to designate PIOs and Appellate Authorities within 6 weeks

In a major victory to democracy, the Central Information Commission on 3rd June has ordered all political parties not only to designate PIOs and AAs within six weeks but also to abide by voluntary disclosures under Section 4 of the RTI Act

It took Right to Information (RTI) activists SubhasChandra Aggarwal and Anil Bahirwal, the national coordinator of National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms, a good three years to collect incriminating evidence and tenaciously follow it up to prove that all political parties are public authorities. This fact was consistently resisted by spokespersons of the big political parties—Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party BSP as well as Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The duo’s commendable efforts finally resulted in the Central Information Commission (CIC)delivering a landmark judgment on 3June 2013.

The CIC ruled that political parties should come under the ambit of RTI, taking into account that the Election Commission (EC) is the public authority, which plays a crucial role in bringing any political party into existence and its control over them, subsequently. It also took into account the fact that political parties are substantially funded by the government, thus making them, public authorities under Section 2 (h) (ii).

A full bench comprising Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra, Information Commissioners ML Sharma and Annapurna Dixit based their judgment on the following grounds:

  • Political parties are registered with the Election Commission of India (ECI) under Section 29A of the Representation of People Act, 1951
  • For the purposes of elections, an association/body gets the status of a political party only on its registration with the ECI under Section 29A.
  • Para 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation & Allotment) Order, 1968, empowers the ECI to suspend or withdraw the recognition of a political party if it refuses to follow the lawful directions and instructions of the Commission or if it refuses to observe the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct.
  • As per the Supreme Court judgment in Common Cause V/s Union of India (AIR 1996 SC-3081), the ECI is empowered under Article 324 of the Constitution to require the political parties to submit details of expenditure incurred by them in connection with elections
  • The ECI has directed the political parties to submit their accounts within 90 days after general elections in case of Lok Sabha and within 75 days in the case of Assembly elections
  • Under Section 29C of the RP Act, a political party is required to report to the ECI in respect of contributions received by it in excess of Rs20,000 from any person or company
  • The contributions made to the political parties are exempt from the Income Tax, both for the donor and the donee.
  • Recognition of political parties is governed by the provisions of Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment), 1968, which is an order issued by the ECI under Article 324 of the Constitution read with Rules 5 & 10 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, to provide for specification, reservation & allotment of symbols and recognition of political parties and matters related thereto.)


A delighted Bairwal stated that, “Political parties have long resisted opening themselves to public scrutiny. People have long been demanding that there should be complete transparency in their financial and internal functioning. Various commissions including the Law Commission, Election Commission and NCRCW have already recommended that political parties should demonstrate transparency through various measures. The CIC should be immensely complimented for passing this landmark judgement to enable the citizens of India so that they can access information about the political parties for which they vote for.”

Subhash Aggarwal states that already politicians have begun sending wrong information that now political parties are only answerable to the CIC and not the public. He states, “Some political parties and their leaders have begun creating confusion that the verdict will make political parties accountable to Central Information Commission in addition to the Election Commission. It should be noted that bringing political parties under the RTI Act will make them accountable to members of public filing RTI petitions with them.”

In the earlier CIC hearings of 26 September 2012 and 1 November 2012, the CICs had commented that, “we hold that INC, BJP, CPI(M), NCP and BSP have been substantially financed by the central government under Section 2 (h) (ii) of the RTI Act.  The criticality of the role being played by these politicalparties in our democratic set up and the nature of duties performed by them also point towards their public character, bringing them in the ambit of section 2(h).”

The bench on 3rdJune further stated that, “The presidents, general/secretaries of these political parties are hereby directed to designate CPIOs and the Appellate Authorities at their headquarters in six weeks’ time. The CPIOs so appointed will respond to the RTI applications extracted in this order in four weeks’ time. Besides, the residents/general secretaries of the above mentioned political parties are also directed to comply with the provisions of section 4(1) (b) of the RTI Act by way of making voluntary disclosures on the subjects mentioned in the
said clause.”

How it all started:

29 October 2010: Complainant Anil Bairwal, in his RTI application dated 29 October 2010 had sought the following information from the under mentioned political parties:· INC, AICC, BJP, NCP, CPI(M), CPI, BSP—sources of the 10 maximum voluntary contributions received by your party from financial year 2004-05 to financial year 2009-10; modes of these donations (cheque, cash, DD etc); the amounts of these donations; the financial years in which these contributions were made.


15 November 2010: Moti Lal Vora, treasurer, AICC, had informed the complainant that AICC did not come under the purview of the RTI Act; Chandan Bose, PRO, Nationalist Congress Party, in his letter dated 27 November, 2010, explained to Bairwal why this does not come under the RTI Act. KC Bansal of CPI, in his letter dated 6 November, 2010, had informed the complainant of the sources of ten maximum voluntary contributions received by the party for the financial years 2004-05 to 2009-10. Importantly, other political parties chose not to respond to the RTI application.


16 May 2011:  SubhashChandra Aggarwal sought the following information from the presidents/secretaries of the Indian National Congress (INC/AICC) and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP): Copies of election manifestos of the BJP during its NDA government days; whether all promises made in these election manifestoes were fulfilled; if not to list them; outline of receipts (separately by cash/online/cheque, etc) by the BJP in last two years separately for each year for which updated account information may be there; Outline of payments (separately by cash/online/cheque, etc) made by the BJP in the last three years separately for each year for which updated account information may be there; is it compulsory for every BJP legislature either at Centre or in states or in civic bodies, etc to contribute towards party funds?; If yes, please provide complete and detailed information including also defaulters in making such contributions to party fund in the last three years. Is the BJP aware of any of its legislatures (both at Centre and in the states)/civic body member, etc involved in corrupt and other malpractices in the last three years? If yes, please provide complete details including action taken by party and others against such persons. Has the BJP suggested any proposals to Union government /Election Commissiontowards electoral reforms? If yes, please provide complete details including reply received from concerned ones, if any.  Any other related information; file notings on movement of this RTI petition and on all aspects mentioned in this RTI petition.”


20 May 2011: Moti Lal Vora, treasurer, AICC, in his letter dated 20th May, 2011, had informed the complainant that AICC did not come under the purview of the RTI Act. Shri Shanti Prasad Aggarwal, Rashtriya Prabhari of BJP, in his letter dated 28 May2011, had informed the complainant that the BJP was not a public authority and, therefore, the party was not obliged to provide the requisite information.


6 September 2011:  Subhash Chandra Aggrawal filed a complaint with the CIC in which he mentioned that the All India Congress Committee and Bhartiya Janata Party, being national parties, had got premium land in Delhi/New Delhi at zonal variant institutional rate which was much less than the prevailing market rate and, therefore, it was not correct on their part to plead that they did not fall under the purview of the RTI Act. It was his contention that both AICC/INC and BJP fell under the ambit of section 2(h) of the RTI Act.


14 March 2011: Anil Bairwal filed a complaint with the CIC against the responses received from INC/AICC, NCP & CPI, contending therein that the political parties, being beneficiaries of the government, fell under the ambit of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act and, therefore, they were mandated to disclose full and complete information to him.


31 July 2012: Chief Information Commissioner in his order dated 31 July, 2012 constituted a full bench comprising  Satyananda Mishra, Chief Information Commissioner; Annapurna Dixit, Information Commissioner; and ML Sharma, Information Commissioner


26 September 2012: On behalf of complainant Aggrawal, Prashant Bhushan vehemently contended that the entire political system in India revolved around the political parties. They perform a public function and, therefore, warrant to be declared. The next hearing was on 1 November 2012.


3 June 2013: CIC bench gives order to all political parties to appoint PIOs and AAs in the next six weeks; PIOs to begin functioning within four weeks hence and heads of political parties to ensure that information is suo motu put in public domain under Section 4 of the RTI Act.

Some of the submissions made:



(i) The political parties hold constitutional status and wield constitutional powersunder the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution in as much as they have thepower to -

“a) disqualify legislators from Parliament and State Assemblies;

b) bind legislators in their speeches and voting inside the house;

c) decide what laws are made;

d) decide whether the government remains in power or which governmentshould come to power;

e) decide public policies that affect lives of millions of people.”


(ii) As per Article 102 (2) of the Constitution, a person can be disqualified from being a member of either House of Parliament under the Tenth Schedule and that a similar provision exists for the State Legislators under Article 191(2) of the Constitution. Furthermore, as per Article 102(2), if a member of a House belonging to a political party votes or abstains from voting in the Housecontrary to the directions issued by the political party, he is liable to be disqualified from being a Member of the House.


(iii) The political parties have been given statutory status under Section 29A of theRepresentation of the People Act, 1951.

(iv) Under Section 29A (5) of the Representation of People Act, 1951, politicalparties are required to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established.

(v) The political parties give tickets to the candidates and the people vote on party symbols and, thus, the political parties are important instrumentalities of democratic governance.


He also submitted proof of information regarding the allotment of accommodation to various political parties on rental basis and the outstanding dues against them, as received by him from the Directorate of Estates vide their letter dated 24 August 2011.



Anil Bairwal filed a detailed representation before this Commission to contend that political parties fall in the ambit of section 2(h) of the RTI Act. In his representation, Bairwal has made the following salient points:

(i) All the political parties have been claiming tax exemption under section 13Aof the Income Tax Act. As per his representation, various political parties claimedIncome Tax exemption (he provided details)


(ii)The State has been indirectly financing various political parties by way of free air time on All India Radio. He submitted the amount spent by the state on the political parties. He also argued that the State has spent huge amounts on the political parties in the matter of free air time on Doordarshan.

(iii)The central government and the state governments have allotted various houses/buildings/other types of accommodation to various political parties either free of cost or at concessional rates. This also amounts to indirect financing of political parties by the respective governments.

(iv) Political parties are continuously engaged in the performance of public duty and it is, therefore, important that they become accountable to the public. Transparency in the working and financial operations of the political parties is essential in the larger public interest.

Prashant Bhushan:

He vehemently contended that the entire political system in India revolved around the political parties. They perform a public function and, therefore, warrant to be declared “public authority” under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. In amplification of his above broad submission, he has advanced the following arguments:

(i) Tenth Schedule to the Constitution vests tremendous powers with the politicalparties in as much as they can oust an elected member—whether MP or MLA—fromout of the party if he steps out of the party line. The vast power of the politicalparties has been recognised in this Schedule and, therefore, if purposive interpretationof the Tenth Schedule is made, then the political parties can be deemed to be coveredunder Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.


(ii) As per Section 29C of the Representation of People Act, 1951, all donationsof and above Rs20,000 made to political parties are required to be reported to theIncome Tax Department. This obligation cast on the political parties points towardstheir public character.


(iii) By virtue of powers conferred on it under Article 324 of the Constitution readwith section 29A of the Representation of People Act, 1951, and Rules 5 and 10 ofthe Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, and other powers vested in it, the ElectionCommission of India made and promulgated the Election Symbols (Reservation andAllotment) Order, 1968. Under this order, Election Commission allots symbols tovarious political parties. The Election Commission is an instrumentality of the State.Allotment of election symbols by the Election Commission to various politicalparties is suggestive of the public character of the political parties.


Bhushan contended that political parties have constitutional and statutory status. It is his contention that incorporation of Articles 102(2) and 191(2) through the 42nd Amendment and the 10th Schedule to the Constitution has given constitutional status to the political parties. According to him, it is a fallacy to say that any individual can form a political party. A body or entity does not become a political party in the legal sense until it is registered by the Election Commission of India under section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and this registration lends it the colour of public authority.


Lastly, the complainant has also contended that in exercise of its powers, the Election

Commission of India under Elections Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968,promulgated under article 324 of the Constitution and Rules 5 & 10 of the Conduct of Election

Rules, 1961, grants symbols to various political parties for election purposes for the recognitionof political parties and can suspend or withdraw recognition of recognized political parties ontheir failure to observe the Model Code of Conduct or not following the lawful directions andinstructions of the Commission. It is indicative of the public character of the political parties.



(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)




3 years ago

100% needed. And also that exemption rule of Rs 20000 should be immediately removed. It encourages black money and cash transactions in elections. This whole system of elections and politicians is completely outdated now. Its time for direct democracy and govt work to be done by recruited people, not people's representatives. No need of elections / politicians. Recruit people in Govt jobs and let people decide what policies should be made. There should be no need of elections and politicians. People will manage all the work. Will create employment too. People working for people, thats what democracy should be, not politicians ruling over people and deciding on their behalf. 50% of people's time is wasted on these 2 topics - politics and elections. This 50% time should actually be spent on governance and people making policies and implementing them as well.


Dayananda Kamath k

In Reply to Dekho 3 years ago

it is the people who have voted and supported these parties. in democracy you receive a govt you deserve. if you vote a party because they are providing free colour tv, tablets, mobile phone, laptop, rice at rs.1 when actual price is rs.40/ you will get such parties only. they have mismanaged the economy for 60 years and you support them again because they are giving you something free.the money comes from your own taxes or borrowings by the govt.unless you debar parties from declaring freebies in their manifesto countries position will not improve. election commission should debar all political parties which have announced freebies and implemented for 10 years from election immediately. even supreme court should initiate suomoto action as it is nothing but corrupting the voters.

Dr Paresh Vaidya

3 years ago

This is a great opportunity for the political system to get cleaned. But the arguments by Shri Prashant Bhushan are tenuous. Only because a party can remove an MLA from membership or because they can not deal in cash more than RS 20,000 do not make the public body. Allotment of Election symbol by Election commssion also is not a good argument because even a shop is allotted a registration number by the municipal body. Parties are also not constitutional bodies because the Indian constitution does NOT mention any entity like a political party !

This apart, they can decide to cleanse themselves.


3 years ago

My dear Vinita,
Please keep following up this story as the political parties will resist this democratic effort to force open their activities through RTI.
Peace and love - Joe.

Dayananda Kamath k

3 years ago

rahul gandhi used to enumerate laws brought in by congress as a show piece to ganer votes and show that congress govt is functiuoning. one main question is why they were forced to bring these special laws. these rights are already enshrine in our constitution and any govt should have ensured these rights without special laws. since they failed they are bringing these laws. even in case of rti. the purpose of the act is that citizens should know what is happening with the govt and how it is working. since govt is not transparent people have to fight to get this right.but it is being followed in letter than the main purpose of the law itself is defeated of improving governance.

Shashikant Koppikar

3 years ago

Opposition by the political parties is an indication of how far removed they are from the mood of the nation, how low they are on moral fibre and how right Anna Hazare and Aravind Kejariwal are.

Mrs Kokila Mani

3 years ago

One major party divides people in terms of religion, caste and creed to get votes with all scams etc.

another major party wants to divide states into smaller states to rule the country in the name of efficient administration but God knows how can they manage large country if they come into power

the regional parties what they can do without central support is not explained only to get votes they play with emotions and sentiments of the people

left parties look to communist countries outside. all the leaders are born with silver spoon in the mouth



3 years ago

Should the Public limited companies come under RTI? Can a public limited company disclose all documents/ details to the non- share holding general public?


3 years ago

We need not be too excited as all the political parties are united in defeating the applicability of RTI to them. So there is a long battle ahead for the citizens of India.

Veeresh Malik

3 years ago

The political formations are likely to come together and close ranks in their attempts to escape adhering to the RTI Act. We need to make sure that this does not happen, and one way to do it is to give this decision as much publicity as we can, and spread the word.



In Reply to Veeresh Malik 3 years ago

RTI cannot be applied in toto with regard to political parties. How can they disclose all documents to general public? But they need to disclose their funding etc.,to the public.

RTI act needs to be fine-tuned.


3 years ago

Can a non- Hindu seek information from Kerala's Devaswom Boards (Hindu Temple boards) to disclose information regarding temple revenue etc.,etc.? (Many non- Hindu worship places are still private bodies and hence do not come under RTI)

I think certain aspects of RTI needs to be revisited.

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