SC clears deck for prosecution of Reliance Group honchos in OSA case

The company and its three officials are facing a criminal case under the Official Secrets Act over the alleged recovery of some secret documents during search of the office premises of V Balasubramanian, the then group president of Reliance Industries, in 1998

New Delhi: Three top executives of the undivided Reliance Group—AN Sethuraman, Shankar Adawal and V Balasubramanian—will face criminal proceedings on charges of possessing confidential government documents after the Supreme Court today refused to give them any relief, reports PTI.

The apex court dismissed their petitions challenging the Delhi High Court order saying “these petitions do not contain any merits”.

The company and its three officials are facing a criminal case under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) over the alleged recovery of some secret documents during search of the office premises of V Balasubramanian, the then group president of Reliance Industries, in 1998.

They had challenged the 8 October 2010 order of the high court which had dismissed the technical objections raised by them that before sending the case to the sessions court for prosecution, the chief metropolitan magistrate should have recorded the testimony of witnesses named in the complaint.

However, an apex court bench comprising justices Dalveer Bhandari, VS Sirpurkar and Deepak Verma, upheld the high court order saying that the present grievance was devoid of merit.

A criminal case was filed in 1998 by the Delhi Police against the company and its three officials for the recovery of the photostat copies of four classified documents but later considering the sensitivity of the case, investigation was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which registered a complaint in 2002.

Of the three officials against whom the case was registered, two—Mr Adawal and Mr Balasubramanian—are now with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries while Mr Sethuraman is with the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.

Earlier when the matter was before the trial court and the high court, the company had contended that the CBI failed to register the complaint within the time-frame of three years and as such the trial should not have been proceeded with.

However, the high court refused to accept the contention that 142 days’ delay in registering the complaint could be a ground to quash the proceedings before the trial court.

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RTI activist exposes RNA Corporation’s shoddy handling of Oshiwara slum rehab project

MMRDA stops work for violation of rules on a whistle-blower’s complaint; state human rights commission serves notice for improper layout and sanitation

Information accessed by RTI activist Sulaiman Bhimani shows that Mumbai-based builder RNA Corporation has violated many rules in the construction of a slum rehabilitation project.

Following a complaint, the company has been served a stop-work notice by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). Also, the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission has asked the Collector to report on the proceedings, failing which the commission has said that it will have to intervene.

RNA Corporation, headed by Anil Agarwal, has had a good run in dealings with the MMRDA. But the relationship turned awkward after a slum rehabilitation project in Oshiwara, in suburban Goregaon, was taken up by its unit Skyline Construction.

MMRDA stopped the work on the project after it was revealed that the builder had constructed two basements without permission. Skyline had submitted a proposal for 26 extra floors and two basements, but this was not cleared by the authorities.

On the complaint of an activist, MMRDA officials visited the site and the notice was issued promptly.

It might surprise many that even the state human rights authority has got involved in the matter. What troubled the Commission was the poor state of the sewage management system for the project. Mr Bhimani said, "I went to Delhi and complained to the NHRC that the residents were living like sub-humans, with no space and even less hygiene. The NHRC ordered its department in the state to take due action."

Pictures of the work show the buildings too close to each other, internal units crammed and the state of sanitation deplorable. The alleys are clogged with piles of garbage and the water tank and sewage dump have been constructed side by side.

Civic regulations require the sewage and water compartments to be separated, with the water tank substantially above the ground. Also, the sewage chamber must be at least 1.5 metres away from the building, so that the waste matter does not affect the foundation. None of these rules have been observed. The builder claimed that PVC pipes were used for all drainage works, however, the plumber's certificate showed that cement pipes were used instead.

Mr Bhimani also managed to get a series of undated letters by Skyline Construction from the municipality records, one of which says that it will carry on with the work, as they cannot leave the project unfinished. Another says that the development work has been 'satisfactorily completed', and that it is supplemented with a handwritten occupation certificate, sans date or official stamp.

What is even more baffling is that Skyline managed to get the intimation of approval (IOA) and commencement certificate (CC) on the same day, that too twice-first in 2003 and then in 2009. The IOA certificate lists a series of conditions that must pre-exist commencement of work, and the CC is issued after much deliberation. However, such rules clearly didn't apply to Skyline.

"The transformation of Mumbai hasn't done much for the slums. It's only giving the horizontal shanties a vertical shape," says Mr Bhimani. "This is the story of only one slum, but there are 32 other such projects that are happening in the city." Even the chief minister is hinting that the civic authorities-builder nexus has taken a dangerous shape. Hopefully this incident serve as a wake-up call.

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COMMENTS

Bhartah

6 years ago

This is a serious matter but nothing is going to happen as the MONEY POWER will over shadow all the proceedings and the file will go missing like adarsh and every body will come out with clean hands until and unless print media takes it seriously by regular follow up plays a role of watch dog seriously this could come out as biiger as adarsh

Alert Indian

6 years ago

Its a wake up call the article appearing on web is not enough it should come in print and copies send to PM / CM / MC MMRDA / and follow up what happened after these disclosure is the whistle blower is still alive

Sulaiman Bhimani

6 years ago

The story is MIND Blowing it should come in print to be more effective and to be result oriented

Sharad Phadke

6 years ago

One correction:
You pay Rs.2/- to center govt. and 1.50/- to Maharashtra for development of roads as ses per liter of petrol.

Sharad Phadke

6 years ago

Mr. Vinay Joshi,
You ask "Does one have right to property? As per constitution & enacted laws."
I put you one another question, Do you have any right as per constitution for free moment in India? If yes, why you pay "Toll Tax"? Do you find it constitutional? You pay Rs.2/- to center govt. and 1.50/- to Maharashtra for development of roads as ses and still you are taxed with "Toll Tax"? In which constitutional article you find it fit?
You, I and all are responsible for this. At least I have registered my vote under 39 “O” have you been to polling station for your right? I doubt.
I am not a newspaper man but can say unless there is uproar in papers the RBI Kumbhakarna will not wakeup.
Yes, you do have a right for property as per constitution, but do you have that in Kashmir? Why not?
May I know what you have done for normal people and why you were quite on that apex court status quo case? Why not you? Do a squirrels’ work and then ask about explanation from someone.
I fully agree with Nagesh Kini about "There are enough arm chair back seat drivers always wanting someone to do something and complaining that no one doing anything, ultimately no one does anything other than grumbling that nothing is happening” and you are one from them.
You are worried about airport the why did not “you” tried for the case in cold storage for 2 decades? At least now you try to bring it out of cold storage, many people will be very happy and say Mr. Joshi did it.
Sorry, if I have heart your ego.

nagesh kini

6 years ago

Mr. Joshi,

If you are so concerned about doing some thing worthwhile you are advised to please take to activism.

For saving Mumbai's open spaces there is Citispace and for Banks the Bank Depositors Association.

There is an acute shortage of dedicated volunteers to fight for the causes they claim to espouse.
There are enough arm chair back seat drivers always wanting some one to do something and complaining that no one doing anything, ultimately no one does anything other than grumbling that nothing is happening.

Under the present conditions getting things done through Annagiri is one way out. It does work. Give it a try!

purnima

6 years ago

RNA corpration is known for its corrupt practises. It was previously (RNA -NG) brother of Anil Agarwal who was caught in sting operation by MIdday for mal practises and now it is Anils turn. I think RNA should be completely banned from this profession

REPLY

Sulaiman

In Reply to purnima 6 years ago

Would U give details of the sting operation by Mid day as we may have to go to court this details will help us

Nagesh KiniFCA

6 years ago

Accessing information under RTI, is not just enough, it ought to be the beginning of a concerted action with active follow up to make effective use of the information collected. The wrongs should be got corrected. Other wise it will make no sense. The rot will continue.

Vinay Joshi

6 years ago

Dear Mr. Sulaiman Bhimani,

Appreciate you got info thro’ RTI, placed in the forum by Moneylife!

Does one have right to property? As per constitution & enacted laws.

About slums a petition is still pending in SC, the apex court, since two decades, SC order, status quo, HAS YET NOT DELIVERED IT’s JUDGEMENT! NEITHER ACTIVATED, BY ANYBODY!

Jhopadi’s, jaggi’s, slums et al – who developed it? Since when? Whose patronage?

Moneylife has put it up now- as a wake up call – dismissing last decades happenings – coz it was sleeping!? Ms.Sucheta, can you answer?

There are 80,000 reasons that stalls Mumbai Int’l airport expansion!
Maha. State in quandary as it will require 200 acres of land to rehabilitate the slum dwellers!

WHY CAN’T THEY BE JUST EVICTED?! Ooh! SC status quo!

WHY NOT ANYONE HAS STILL ACTIVATED THE STATUS QUO JUDGEMENT?
Any explanation?

100’s of SRA-PAP projects are by political patronage, embeded with corruption!

Ms. Sucheta, any comments on apex co-op bank, yes MSCB, CRR 1.4% since years.
Who was managing it? WHO ALLOWED IT TO BE?! Why RBI woke up today? CAN RTI HELP?!? WILL IT NAIL THE CORRUPT?!

Regards,




REPLY

sucheta

In Reply to Vinay Joshi 6 years ago

Mr Joshi.. I'm not quite clear what exactly you want me to answer? We are journalists. On Mah State Coop Bank, we have written and followed up by demanding answers from RBI. We cant force them to answer.
On the slum petition, I can't figure out if you are asking a rhetorical question or a specific one. In fact, I am not even sure if you are blaming me for any of it??? :-))

Vinay Joshi

In Reply to sucheta 6 years ago

Dear Ms. Sucheta,

Thank you for the prompt reply. This is not the first time i'm reiterating my appreciation for your journalistic credentials including Mr.Debashis's.

What i meant - Ms.Sucheta answer - was about proliferation of slums, SC order status quo as of 1995, jury still out. Thereafter SRA scams now unearthed. What is the legality of SRA development in view of the pending SC petition? Hypothetical - SC verdict- slums illegal [illegal they are] then what is the constitutional validity of state Govt. SRA?
I do understand your domain finance.

In respect of MSCB do understand your aspects about RBI .

You were the only one to expose then, Stockholding Corpn; murky deals.

I'm at a loss to understand why you felt i'm blaming you? On what count can i? Never.

I always propagate, Fourth Estate will resurrect the Three Estates.

Regards,

SANarayan

6 years ago

If Govt. agencies think that Pvt builders will build rehab accommodation for slum dwellers in return for incentives like additional Fsi in balance space etc in a straightforward way they are beibg naive. It would be better to build the rehab part of the project by themselves(Govt agency) and auction the remaining vacated space at market prices to pvt parties for the pvt building.

Exports will show a drastic fall if DEPB stopped: FIEO

On concerns that the DEPB is not compliant with World Trade Organisation rules, the government has announced discontinuation of the same from 30th June this year. Exporters have opposed the move and have been pleading with the government that either the scheme should remain intact or be replaced by an alternative

New Delhi: India’s exports will drop to USD 200 billion in the current fiscal if sops under the Duty Entitlement Pass Book Scheme (DEPB) duty neutralisation scheme are withdrawn, the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) cautioned today, reports PTI.

The government has set an export target of $312 billion for 2011-12, pegging growth at 26.7% vis-à-vis the 2010-11 achievement, as highlighted in the commerce ministry’s strategy paper.

The country had registered an impressive growth of 37.5% in overseas merchandise shipments in 2010-11, which reached $246 billion, against a modest target of $200 billion.

“If there is no continuation of DEPB, exports will fall to $200 billion,” FIEO president Ramu S Deora said here.

Under the DEPB, the incidence of customs duty on import content of export products is neutralised and reimbursed to the exporters.

Several key industries like engineering, including automobiles, have been the major beneficiaries of the scheme.

On concerns that the DEPB is not compliant with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, the government has announced discontinuation of the same from 30th June this year.

Exporters are opposed to the move and have been pleading with the government that either the scheme should remain intact or be replaced by an alternative.

The annual payout on this head to exporters is Rs8,100 crore.

Mr Deora said when the government had announced that DEPB would be discontinued from June; it assured exporters that they would benefit from the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST).

“GST is now delayed... Either the DEPB should be extended, if not, all the products covered under it may be brought under the all-industry drawback scheme in the same rates. The government must announce it immediately, otherwise we will lose orders,” the FIEO chief said.

He said Indian exporters, if outpriced by competition, will be forced to vacate the markets nurtured by them for many years.

Expressing concern over bans and restrictions on export of certain commodities like cotton, Mr Deora said that whenever the country is faced with domestic shortages, the sensible way would be to put an export cess, rather than curbing shipments.

On hike in key interest rates, Mr Deora said he favours the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) efforts to curb inflation but “there should be a distinction between export finance and domestic finance”.

He said the rate of interest for micro, small and medium sectors should not be more than 7% as they contribute almost half of the country's total exports.

“In exports, competition is not from within but from nations where the credit is available at less than 5%.

If Indian exporters get credit at 10.5%-11%, they will be totally outpriced in global markets,” he added.

On credit rating for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), he said, there are no separate guidelines for SMEs and the criteria does not allow such firms to get good rating, as a result financing from banks becomes more difficult.

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