Citizens' Issues
Public Interest Exclusive
What is common between Ambani, Subroto Roy or Praful Patel?

How the powerful threaten our basic freedom

It is the Polyester Prince story all over again. In the 1990s, Reliance Industries used the courts to bully a meek publisher and stopped the India release of a book that dissected Dhirubhai Ambani’s path to fabulous riches. In the days before social media or online book distribution options, the stay by a lower court was enough to stop it from getting into shop shelves. Nearly 15 years later, Indian industrialists, especially those in politics or with great political clout, are using the same bullying tactics.

In January, Praful Patel, the powerful minister from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) pressured Bloomsbury India to withdraw The Descent of Air India—a tell-all book that exposed how India’s national airline was systematically looted and pushed into the red. Naturally, Mr Patel’s stellar role, as aviation minister, in giving a huge push to the airline’s collapse through venal senior management and reckless purchase of aircrafts is described in detail. When Mr Patel filed a case with the metropolitan magistrate in Mumbai, the author Jitendra Bhargava (for decades, the public face of Air India) decided to fight back, while the publisher, Bloomsbury, chose to issue a public apology and destroy the remaining stock of the book. Mr Bhargava says on his facebook page that this was a unilateral decision without any discussion with him; he has also told the judge that he can substantiate everything he has said in the book. Mr Bhargava will soon self-publish it as an e-book.

In the very same week, the Sahara parivar decided to take the Ambani route. It filed a Rs200-crore defamation suit against journalist Tamal Bandopadhyay for a book that has not even been published and managed to obtain an interim stay against its publication from a Kolkata court. While Sahara claims that the book is defamatory, it has been the subject of innumerable adverse news reports ever since August 2012 when a landmark judgement of the Supreme Court (SC) ordered it to refund a whopping Rs24,000 crore raised through two group companies. In the subsequent months, the group patriarch, Subrata Roy, has been restrained by the SC from going abroad. The group has been rebuked by the apex court for trying to ‘fool’ it and has a contempt petition filed against it by SEBI for calling the market regulator a ‘sarkari gunda’. It will be interesting to see whether Jaico, the publisher of Sahara: The Untold Story also caves in or fights back.

Meanwhile, both Bloomsbury and Jaico would do well to look at what happened with The Polyester Prince. While the publisher chickened out of a fight, photocopies of the book were in great demand and author, Hamish MacDonald, grew in stature. A decade latter, when Anil and Mukesh went to war over the division of the family business, the dirty reputation that they washed in public began to make the revelations in Mr MacDonald’s book seem mild by comparison. More interestingly, Dhirubhai Ambani’s story, warts and all, became a popular Bollywood movie with the blessings of his son. Hopefully, the judiciary will take this into account while deciding on how much credence they should give to the claims of controversial corporates and politicians who want to use their financial muscle to gag whistleblowers and publishers.



Saurav Bhattacharyya

3 years ago

Just stumbled upon your site Ms Dalal, I had been an avid listener to your appearances in TV channels a few years ago, but you are not so frequent the TV media any longer, please do come over, you are beautiful and gutty, your site says it all. Its admirable that the articles in your site are bold and revolutionary and above all informative to the retail investors. Please don't buckle under this BJP-cum-Ambani nexus to scuttle your voice...please remain bold and beautiful in the true sense of it. Hats off to you and your writers.

chandra sekhar

3 years ago

These things have been happening for very long. The famous troika, that is lala (businessman), babu (bureaucrat) and neta (politician) haven been working in tandem looting the nation right from the days of Jawharlal Nehru. Good to see that public are becoming aware of these things.

nilesh sharma

3 years ago

I hope someone take over on Tata's LOW Cost Housing project in Boisar, Mumbai suburbs too.
I came to know the real face of Tata's only when i purchased a flat in the so-called Nano housing project in 2009. They promised a time frame of 2 yrs to give possession by June 2011.
The payments were taken on quarterly basis. Till June 2011 approx.75% of selling price was taken but Tata kept on delaying the possession.
1st date was June 2011.
Afterwards postponed to DEc. 2011.
Then again postponed till March 2012.
Till today after having several meetings with the senior officials of Tata's they had not completed the work and not even given the dates of the possession.
Just give a thought, how a lower/middle income group family will suffer from it. It's now 5 yrs.



In Reply to nilesh sharma 3 years ago

It is better to go to consumer court and get back themarket value
of your property


In Reply to VIDHANI 3 years ago

operational head india
singapore media and channel group
if we go to consumer court and if we get the verdict in our favour client do you mean to say will it have any impact on the Ambani or Sahara international chief or Shri praful patel please let me know in which case we can go for

Gurparkar Singh

3 years ago

All are Chors.There is only one word for all of them.Problem is no one can catch them as they are big thieves & no punishment for them.Smaller thieves can be caught & punished.


3 years ago

Even the committee of certain "elite" clubs throttle freedom of speech. The whole of India is in a process of covering up in a situation where the power they wield seems to be co variant the extent of what they need to cover up!


3 years ago

Let Us see after 2014 Lok Sabha poll if BJP comes in to power what they do ? will they follow UPA-II or not ?

Darius M Bilimoria

3 years ago

And Praful Bhai is sauve, articulate and down-right .... don't know the strong word.... would corrupt be an apt description? He has distributed the loot(Aircraft purchase commission and Traffic rights between carriers)from Air India amongst the politicians of ALL parties, with the result that no one is complaining. Can the opposition not take up the matter as elaborated by Jitendra Bhargava in his book? Why would they? They would be only hurting themselves.
Praful Bhai should have hauled up Jitendra Bhargava,if he knew what was good for him. We will have to wait for justice to be delivered on this one yet.

Darius M Bilimoria

3 years ago

A well-written article. The contents is correct. These are our 3 prized gems.They take away your money without you realizing the loss.
The shareholders of the listed Company need to be careful and not blindly follow the brothers. A new scam is brewing in Reliance Telecom and Reliance Jio where ownership of Reliance communications will pass onto Reliance Jio. Watch the skillful act unfolding soon.

Mahesh S Bhatt

3 years ago

Power Corrupts Absolute Power Corrupts absolutely.

Hence Wealth gets destroyed to be recreated elsewhere as Values are compromised.




In Reply to Mahesh S Bhatt 3 years ago

the corruption should be totally wiped off means then we can say that the country is in the path of progress for which the law should be simplified and tax payers should not be penalised or victimised they should be free then country could grow even the money earned by corruption is not good for the anybody because all are illgotten money the person who had involved would have many problems in their family if this is understood then corruption would be curtailed let us pray for GOD to bestow his blessings against corruption

nagesh kini

3 years ago

What's the point now Mr. Patel?
In which age is he living in?
With the book already released and in circulation and e-version also available is the former Civil Aviation Minister afraid that it will adversily affect his re-election pospects?
Banning or proscribing any publication in the ultimate analysis only will increase the demand and bring in more pirated editions easily available at traffic signals as in the case of Polyester Prince!


3 years ago

In this digital age the authors can consider releasing the book under creative commons license and host the text of the book on cloud. The text can be downloaded free of cost with a donation link or it can either be a paid download. Since the cloud wouldn't be hosted in India, not much can be done.


3 years ago

sathya cumaran
operational head india
singapore mediaa nd channel group
please donot name Ambani brothers with Sahara international and praful patel case we as sharehodler and wel wishers of ambani brothers we request you withdraw your remark on Ambani


nagesh kini

In Reply to sathyacumaran 3 years ago

Whether it is A or B - when both are in any way no better than the other why demand withdrawal of remark? There is freedom of speech in India as much as in Singapore!

Rajesh Premani null

In Reply to sathyacumaran 3 years ago

So tomorrow if Ambani murders a non - shareholder you'd still want to withhold the information since you're a shareholder? What if I tell you that you're holding blood money where Reliance has walked over corpses to amass wealth? You'd put me behind bars is it?

Aadhaar for LPG: Mess created by UIDAI, OMCs and citizen victims-Part 1

Several people who have linked their Aadhaar with LPG distribution are either not receiving subsidy on time or not receiving the SMS. On the other hand, some people are receiving multiple SMS with different customer IDs about LPG refill and subsidy not related with them

The Supreme Court on 23 September 2013, in an interim order, directed that “no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory.”


However, despite this clear ruling, state-run oil marketing companies (OMC), like the Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Indian Oil Corp (IOC) are enforcing citizens to compel with the UID/Aadhaar requirement. This is not only causing troubles to citizens but lakhs of them are facing hardship due to the forceful implementation of Aadhaar for cooking gas (LPG).


And this is not limited to people who have not submitted their Aadhaar. Several consumers, who have enrolled and submitted their Aadhaar to the LPG distributor, are either not receiving the subsidy on time or not receiving any SMS. On the other hand, several people are receiving SMS about the LPG refill booking, cash memo and delivery, for a consumer number that is not theirs.


For example, I have neither enrolled for the Aadhaar nor I have linked my bank account with any UID number. Yet, I continue to receive SMS from my OMC giving details, about subsidy being deposited into a bank account that does not belong to me. Despite complaining to the OMC and LPG distributor, there is no action to delink my mobile number from the other consumer.

One of the readers of Moneylife, has been receiving SMS from OMC for three-four different consumer numbers. That too, when he has not received his own subsidy for the LPG refill in his own bank account. See the image below, the reader received SMS about booking of a LPG refill. Next message says ‘cash memo no165409 prepared on 27.12.2013 for Rs1044.50’ and his refill will be delivered shortly. The very next message (for the same booking number) says ‘subsidized cash memo 167664 dt 03.01.14 for Rs1273.5 prepared and the refill will be delivered shortly’. Then suddenly on 18th January, he received an SMS stating that his ‘booking no265829 is cancelled!’ (see the image below)

There are two things wrong in these messages. One, the consumer number does not belong to the reader and second, he is still waiting for his rightful delivery of LPG refill since more than 20 days. Interestingly, he still has to get the subsidy for his last refill and the distributor had told him that he would receive it in next 10-12 days.


Several readers of Moneylife have complained about threats being received from their LPG distributors for submitting the UID/Aadhaar number. All the distributors are using the one line threat, "You will not get any subsidy, if you do not provide your Aadhaar and link it to your bank account."


Even the social media is full of people who are having a tough time due to Aadhaar linkage with LPG refill and subsidy. Here is one such tweet that shows the mess of Aadhaar, LPG refill booking and direct benefit transfer (DBTL) scheme. The person has received subsidy through DBTL in his bank account without him booking the LPG refill!



Meanwhile, the OMC continue to send SMS asking people to submit their Aadhaar number to LPG distributor and link it with their bank account.


This is not only illegal but also can be construed as contempt of court. Under Article 141 of the Constitution of India, "the law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all Courts within the territory of India." To declare means to announce opinion. Thus the law declared by the Supreme Court is the law of the land. It is a precedent for itself and for all Courts, Tribunals and authorities in India (Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra (2002) 4 SCC 388). 


Following the interim order from the apex court, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoP&NG) filed an ‘Application for clarification/ modification of order dated 23 September 2013. The Supreme Court, however, simply refused to do so. On 26th November, the Supreme Court said, its 23rd September order remains unmodified. Yet, HPCL, BPCL and IOC and their distributors continue to harass customers under the name of Aadhaar.


This is despite, the Nandan Nilekani-led Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), maintaining its UID or Aadhaar is 'free and voluntary' and is meant for 'residents'.


The Supreme Court is likely to hear the matter on 28 January 2014 and take these ‘welfare agencies’ and the concerned ministries to task.


(This is the first part of two part series. The second part describes steps needed to be taken by customers harassed by the OMCs for LPG refill and subsidy)


You may also want to read…

Aadhaar for LPG: How you can get justice? –Part2


The Prime Minister’s Fingerprints: Aadhaar and the garrotting of civil liberties

Aadhaar for LPG: Oil companies, Ministry of Petroleum & UIDAI disobeying Supreme Court order–Part XXII




arabinda sen

3 years ago

Indane consumer No. 4306 from West Bengal. I enrolled my aadhar No. for DBTL in compliance of Govt notifications. And now I repent my act as I am not receiving subsidy in my accredited bank a/c. I got supply of my last refill purchaed at market price on 5.2.14. And now as on 5.3.14 I have not received my eligible subsidy. Complaint lodged with Indanes' Transparency Portal yeilded no result.


3 years ago




Nilesh Mehta

3 years ago


This is Shashikant Mehta.

I have the same problem i got 2 msg regarding the amount credited to my account but no such amount has been credited in my bank, how can i now cross check as the gas distributor is completely blank on it............please suggest me.




In Reply to Nilesh Mehta 3 years ago

Thanks for your comment.
Would request you to check the second part of this series, which gives details about getting justice. In your case, it would be apt for you to file complaint with your distributor, OMC and send copies to the Supreme Court and Oil Ministry. You can also file complaint online with your OMC and follow it with an RTI.


3 years ago

Relevant organizations should bring Stay Order on DBT to bank account in case of LPG subsidy for all Citizens of India.

Maximum they can link Aadhaar for additional ID record after verifying correctness in LPG book issued to Customer.


3 years ago

This is easily the most audacious disrespect of the Supreme Court. The order is simple and straightforward and yet, for reasons best known to them, derive sadistic pleasure by making things complicated.

Sensex, Nifty moves sideways: Monday closing report

The downward move that started on Friday has been arrested for now. A close below 6,280 for the Nifty will again open up the possibility of a decline

The Sensex opened at 21,084 and the Nifty opened at 6,262. The indices soon hit their low at 21,001 and 6,243. After which they moved to green zone and remained in the positive for the entire session. In the last hour of the trading session the benchmark hit the day’s high and closed almost at the same level. The Sensex hit a high of 21,221 and closed at 21,205 (up 141 points or 0.67%) while the Nifty hit a high of 6,307 and closed at 6,304 (up 42 points or 0.68%). The NSE recorded a lower volume of 50.90 core shares.


Except for Energy (down 0.75%); Commodities (down 0.09%) and Pharma (down 0.04%), all the other Asian indices closed in the positive. The top five gainers were IT (2.73%); Media (1.41%); Smallcap (1.36%); Nifty Midcap 50 (1.35%) and Service (1.32%).
Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 29 ended in the green. The top five gainers were TCS (5.51%); Wipro (3.85%); HCL Technologies (3.71%); IndusInd Bank (2.75%) and Sesa Sterlite (2.44%). The top five losers were Reliance Industries (1.89%); Tata Power (1.15%); Grasim (1.11%); Bharti Airtel (1.05%) and N M D C (0.93%).
Of the 1,521 companies on the NSE, 778 closed in green, 651 closed in red while 92 closed flat.


The Reserve Bank of India said on Friday, 17 January 2014, that the liquidity conditions are undergoing some stress in the recent period, primarily on account of the build-up of cash balances of the Government of India. In order to address the temporary liquidity deficit situation, the Reserve Bank of India has been infusing additional liquidity through 7/14/28 days term repo auctions in addition to the existing overnight repo under liquidity adjustment facility and standing liquidity facilities. The current assessment suggests that the strain on market liquidity is likely to remain enduring in view of the fiscal targets set for the year as well as projections for aggregate credit growth, warranting the need to provide liquidity of a more permanent nature. Accordingly, the Reserve Bank has decided to conduct Open Market Operations by purchasing the following government securities for an aggregate amount of Rs10,000 crore on Wednesday, 22 January 2014, through multi-security auction using the multiple price method.


Investors also cheered Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's economic vision for India in his speech on Sunday, 19 January 2014, wherein he said the emphasis will be on urbanisation, infrastructure and inflation control and said his wish list includes setting up 100 new smart cities and introduction of bullet trains to all four corners of the country.


The Congress-led government in Maharashtra has taken a leaf out of the books for Aam Admi Party in Delhi and decided to reduce 15% to 20% cut in power tariff charged to domestic consumers, industries and powerlooms by the state-run Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MahaVitaran). However the decision is not applicable to Mumbai consumers who get power supply from Tata Power, Reliance Infrastructure and BrihanMumbai Electric Supply & Transport.


US indices closed flat mostly with the negative bias on Friday. The US stock market will remain closed today for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.


Asian indices closed mostly in the negative. Seoul Composite was the top gainer which rose 0.48% while Hang Seng was the top loser which fell 0.88%.


European indices were showing mixed performance while US Futures were trading marginally in the negative.


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