Yogendra Mittal, an IRS officer of the 2006 batch was booked for criminal conspiracy and under Prevention of Corruption Act. The CBI alleged that illegal gratification taken by the officer could be anywhere between Rs1 to Rs15 crore
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), carried out searches at office and residence of a Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax after registering a case against him for allegedly taking bribe running into crores of rupees during the department’s probe into the Rs500-crore Stock Guru scam, reports PTI.
CBI sources said Yogendra Mittal, an IRS officer of the 2006 batch, had conducted search operations at various locations in connection with Stock Guru scam in January 2011 but they were allegedly not genuine.
They alleged that illegal gratification taken by the officer could be anywhere between Rs1 to Rs15 crore.
The alleged perpetrators of Stock Guru scam—Ulhas Prabhakar Khaire and his wife Raksha—were arrested by Delhi Police's Economic Offences Wing in November last year, nearly 22 months after dubious searches carried out by the Income Tax officer, the sources said.
A team of CBI officials searched the residential premises of Mittal at Kaushambi, Ghaziabad as well as his office today, CBI sources said.
The officer was booked for criminal conspiracy and under Prevention of Corruption Act. It was alleged that the officer led searches against the company Stock Guru with the intention of extracting illegal gratification, they said.
Khaire and Raksha were arrested for allegedly duping around two lakh investors from seven states of nearly Rs493 crore by promising them high returns on their investment through their firm Stock Guru dealing in shares.
The couple had floated the firm in 2010 and allegedly lured people to invest in it promising highly lucrative returns of 20% per month followed by a subsequent refund of the principal amount in the seventh month, through source based investments in the share market.
A pilot can be held under an independent social audit by local citizens. Even in the worst case scenario, technology exists to have an “any media anyone anytime free FIR” and let the police put their decision as Second Information Report or Agreed Action Report or by any other name. We can have all-India hotlines for Kaun Banega Crorepati, but not for crime registration?
Time is ripe now to unleash an equivalent of RTI (Right to Information) in policing; to free up FIR registration as a right. It can be done. The police should have no discretion to refuse FIR registration. What stops the police from opening up lodging of a FIR over SMS, registered email accounts, Facebook, twitter or phone call, apart from a visit to the police station? We have adequate authentication mechanisms to rule out fake mail accounts. We have banking, filing tax returns, eSeva and eGovernance initiatives all running well already on multiple media. If budget be a constraint, charge transaction costs to the victim in case of a fake FIR, but record it as a FIR, record investigation report and close it as fake and get charges applied and collected. If the process efficiency be a constraint, establish a call centre to record FIRs over emails, calls, SMS and social media, ensure authentication, filter complaints on priority and perform as per SLAs. If police cannot do it, let third parties handle it like PSKs (Passport Seva Kendras) handling the issue of passports.
One recalls the days when even to pay cheques, one had to bribe and queue up the whole day because else, electricity/water would be disconnected. Today, eGovernance has meant online, credit card, advance deposit, cheque drop box—a full range of options exist. It can be done similarly for FIR registration too once we remove our blinkers.
If a FIR is wrongly filed in a police station due to incorrect jurisdiction, it can be transferred as a routine procedure by call centre staff trained for this purpose. Rate and prevention of such mis-classifications can be also studied only when compulsorily recorded.
A pilot can be held under an independent social audit by local citizens. Even in the worst case scenario, technology exists to have an “any media anyone anytime free FIR” and let the police put their decision as Second Information Report or Agreed Action Report or by any other name. We can have all India hotlines for Kaun Banega Crorepati, but not for crime registration? One can, even in such revised system too, at least track what percentage of complaints got converted to genuine actionable reports and cognizable offences. The whole system settles down pretty soon as people realize odds of filing a wrong report. In fact, a recorded FIR helps make people as accountable as the police simply because a record exists.
What stops us from implementing this process?
Beneficiaries of status quo wield power generated from opaqueness and anti-people design of the current discretionary FIR registration system. These include politicians and the elite powerful who can cover up their crimes with current system, police that misuse discretionary powers and criminals who can exploit such system. Their opposition is understood but cannot be accepted.
Argument of the budget does not hold as the system can be self-sustaining like RTI. Fees can be refundable or nominal Rs10 or so as transaction cost. In fact, current help-lines can be made toll-free with mandatory FIR registration service centres having access and ability to redirect FIRs to the appropriate police station in the country.
One may say that there will be chaos with part information, frivolous complaints, over-burdening of the police, increase in clerical work, etc, but quite obviously benefits from free FIR registration outweigh any such perceptions. Even at its very basic, the FIR in letter and spirit is designed to be the first prompt uncontrolled sharing of information with the police. All actions of the polity and process must be to remove hindrances from such sharing of info. We seek right to get information in RTI and out here we seek Right to give information.
It is also a requirement to have a multi-channel unified customer service system to integrate FIRs registered from all sources of the media. The technology exists. We run the state-of-the-art GPS linked 108 ambulance service, controlled through a dedicated call centre, in many states that are much more complex technically.
Unfortunately, suggestions that get accepted for implementation often are those that generate huge contracts or concentrate more power with powers-that-be. For something as simple as RTI, anti-corruption law or FIR registration, history shows that we need the people’s movement. And such movement is akin to asking the government to release the CBI. It may be against principles of natural justice to have the state-control investigating agency even when it is investigating crimes by the state itself, but it is more about power than being about justice. Likewise releasing the police to be accountable to people by way of transparent metrics and measures through 100% compliant FIR registration will meet with resistance under other baseless arguments.
But like RTI, this can be done if people power gets it on their agenda. Get parties to commit it for 2014 elections.
Sandeep Khurana earlier wrote Allow registration of FIR as a matter of right.
(Sandeep Khurana is an independent consultant and researcher. Views expressed here are personal. He can be reached at his twitter Id @IQnEQ.)
The Centre had asked the apex court to consider allowing the telecom operators, whose 2G licences were cancelled last year, to continue to operate after the 18th January deadline
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday extended the 18th January deadline to 4th February, for existing operators of 2G spectrum to carry out operations and asked the Centre to spell out the price to be charged for continuing with their service after cancellation of licences last year, reports PTI.
“We want to know what is the price. Just put it in a sealed envelope what is the amount to be paid (by the existing operators of 2G) after our order of 2 February 2012,” a bench comprising justices GS Singhvi and KS Radhakrishnan said while posting the matter for hearing on 4th February.
“The existing operators are allowed to continue operations till the next date of hearing,” the bench further said.
The apex court had on 2nd February last year cancelled 122 licences for the 2G spectrum and had directed the Department of Telecom (DoT) to hold fresh auction for them within four months which has been extended by interim orders from time to time.
The bench asked DoT’s counsel and senior advocate PP Rao to collect information about the telecom companies which emerged as successful bidders in the first round of auction that took place between 12th to 14th November last year and what is going to be the proposed reserve or base price for second round of auction to be held on 11th March 2013.
It also wanted to know from the DoT as to how many operators, whose licences were cancelled by it on 2 February 2012, participated in the fresh auction and how many of them continued with their operation.
“How many licencees stopped operation and secondly you have to find out what decision you have taken to fix price for future auction,” the bench told Rao.
The court also said it has to be made clear whether those existing operators who did not participate in the auction would be allowed to continue or not.
During the hearing, the bench observed that the telecom operators enjoyed the benefit of its order to continue with operations till the fresh auction and they are liable to pay the reserved price after 18 January 2013.
The court also said the decision to reduce the bidding price after the first round of auction for spectrum is bound to evoke further litigation.
“The price in the first round of auction was different and now you are reducing the price in the second round of auction (to be held on 11 March) which is bound to generate litigation,” the bench said but added that “we are not concerned with litigation”.
Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), which was one of the PIL petitioners on whose plea the licences of 2G were cancelled, said existing operators should not be allowed to continue as the consumers have the option to move to other service providers.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for some telecom companies, said the base price fixed for auction was not conducive for many to participate in the bidding process and as such the CDMA operators like Tata opted out and Sistema Shyam Teleservices also did not participate in the auction because of pricing model.
The Centre had asked the court to consider allowing the telecom operators, whose 2G licences were cancelled last year, to continue to operate after the 18th January deadline with a condition that they “will be liable to pay” for the spectrum as per the proposed price of the upcoming auction scheduled on 11th March.
The DoT had appraised its stand in an affidavit which assumes importance as the court had permitted the telecom operators to continue to operate till 18th January this year.