Aviation scam: ED quizzes Praful Patel for 8 hours
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) here on Monday questioned for over eight hours former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel in connection with a money laundering probe into the losses suffered by Air India under the alleged multi-crore aviation scam.
 
This was Patel's first appearance before the agency in connection with the case. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader has been called again for questioning on Tuesday. On June 6, he had skipped the ED questioning citing prior commitments and asked for a new date.
 
The case follows a criminal complaint registered by the ED over alleged irregularities in fixing air slots for international airlines that purportedly led to losses for Air India. However, he has denied any wrongdoing.
 
The ED has already questioned several Air India officials and also recorded statements of then Civil Aviation Secretary and others involved in processing and finalising the agreements.
 
Patel was the Civil Aviation Minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government between 2004 and 2011, when the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines took place. 
 
According to senior ED officials, the agency asked Patel about the Air India and the ministry officials who favoured foreign airlines by giving up profit-making routes and profit-making timings.
 
Patel's questioning has come almost after a month when the ED filed its final report in the alleged aviation scam. 
 
In its May 1 charge-sheet, the ED named corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar and alleged that he finalised various communications addressed to Patel on behalf of Emirates and Air Arabia.
 
Talwar, currently in judicial custody, was extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in January this year.
 
The ED probe encompasses Air India-Indian Airlines merger; purchase of 111 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus at Rs 70,000 crore; ceding of profitable routes and schedules to private airlines; and opening of training institutes with foreign investment.
 
It is also investigating how the money received in Talwar's accounts were transferred to government employees, including those in the Civil Aviation Ministry. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    Govt Compulsorily Retires 12 Top Tax Officers over Charges Ranging from Extortion, Bribe, Sexual Harassment
    The government has compulsorily retired almost a dozen senior tax officers on charges ranging from extortion, bribe and sexual harassment.
     
    The axe has fallen on about 12 senior officers of the rank of chief commissioners, principal commissioners, commissioners of income-tax (I-T) department under rule FR (fundamental rule) 56 (j) of central civil services (pension) rules.
     
    The officers include Ashok Agarwal, joint commissioner of I-T and former deputy director, ED; SK Srivastava, commissioner (appeal, NOIDA; Homi Rajvansh, IRS 1985 batch; BB Rajendra Prasad; Ajoy Kumar Singh; B Arulappa; Alok Kumar Mitra; Chander Saini Bharti; Andasu Ravinder; Vivek Batra; Swetabh Suman and Ram Kumar Bhargava. 
     
    This is major crackdown by Modi government 2.0 on bureaucrats and officials indulging in alleged corruption practices.
     
    Among the key tax officials shown the door is Ashok Agarwal who has remained suspended from 1999 to 2014. He faced serious allegations of corruption and extortion from businessman accused of helping late 'godman' Chandraswami. Mr Agarwal was found to have acquired ill-gotten wealth to the tune of Rs12 crore and faced a CBI (central bureau of investigation) enquiry.
     
    The 1989-batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer has also been retired prematurely as he faced charges of alleged sexual harassment.
     
    Some of the tax officers forced to exit the service acquired movable and immovable properties without obtaining required approvals.
     
    One of the disgraced officer Homi Rajvansh had illegal acquired assets worth Rs3.17 crore. Finance ministry sources said Mr Rajvansh was arrested by CBI after absconding from his headquarters to evade arrest.
     
    Another officer BB Rajendra Prasad was arrested by the CBI on allegations of passing favourable order for illegal gratifications while SK Srivastava, commissioner (appeal), NOIDA is accused of sexual harassment to two women IRS officers of commissioner rank.
     
    In the case of Ajoy Kumar Singh, sources said that CBI, ACB, Mumbai, had registered a disproportionate assets case when Mr Singh was additional commissioner of I-T, Mumbai. He was also arrested by the CBI in connection with the case and placed under suspension w.e.f. 25.10.2009.
     
    Officers have also been compulsorily retired for incompetence as in the case of B Arulappa. He allegedly proved to be ineffective as a supervisory officer and failed to ensure assignment of important cases having large tax implication to senior and experienced officers. But, ministry sources said that Alok Kumar Mitra is allegedly involved in many cases of corruptions and extortion and passed many wrong and malafide assessment orders which were later on reversed by the appellate authorities.
     
    On the other hand, Chander Saini Bharti was apprehended by CBI in connection with a trap case and the bribe money of Rs30 lakh was recovered from angadiya (courier) used by him. He was allegedly found using hawala channels for transferring the ill-gotten money.
     
    Swetabh Suman was arrested by CBI in New Delhi on 13 April 2018 for allegedly demanding Rs50 lakh for giving relief in a shell company matter to a businessman. The amount was recovered from a middle-man and searches were carried out by CBI on the premises linked to Swetabh Suman in Guwahati, Jorhat, Shillong, Noida and Delhi.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    COMMENTS

    B. KRISHNAN

    2 months ago

    A warning signal to bureaucrats to fall in line with the Govt's intention to work for the good of the people. During the first term of the NDA these bureaucrats had created hurdles with hidden agendas. Now the govt means business and will not allow their efforts to be stymied by the infamous Indian babudom!

    R Balakrishnan

    2 months ago

    So heartwarming to read. Hope their wealth is confiscated and they are jailed for the rest of their lives. Mere dismissal is no punishment

    REPLY

    GOKUL

    In Reply to R Balakrishnan 2 months ago

    It is not Dismissal from Service. It is only Compulsory/Premature retirement with all benefits like pension, gratuity, Leave encashment etc

    Mephisto in Mantralaya: Whose Government Is It Anyway, Asks Justice Gautam Patel
    “We could go back... to the time of Cicero (106-43 BC). His words resound through time: We are in bondage to the law in order that we may be free.”
     
    Delivering the first JB D’Souza Memorial Lecture in Mumbai on 3rd June, Justice Gautam Patel said that pillorying courts for ‘judicial over-reach’ is the Executive’s attempt to ‘rule’ rather than ‘govern’. This distinction has blurred over the years and, what were once considered norms that required no special mention, these are the very qualities that are today on the brink of extinction. 
     
     
    Referring to Joseph Bain D’Souza, truly a development administrator if ever there was one, Justice Patel said “Nowhere is this truer than in the field to which Bain dedicated his entire life—public administration.”
     
    The Lecture titled “Mephisto in Mantralaya, Whose Government Is It Anyway?” was organised by Citizens for Peace and the D’souza family.
     
    Among the causes for the deplorable standards of public administration and the bureaucracy, according to Justice Patel, were: a) complete lack of a willingness to learn and to listen; and b) unwillingness to accept that anyone else has anything at all to contribute, any knowledge, skill or domain expertise. 
     
    He said bureaucrats believe that: “Only they have all the answers, on everything from traffic congestion in our cities to agrarian reform. The truth is many do not even know what the questions are, and they are certainly out of touch with contemporary knowledge from elsewhere. This leads to what I call the bubble-ization of governance, proposals and policies unmoored from reason, logic, common sense and contemporary knowledge and experience. Nothing else can explain the completely madcap proposals we see emanating one after the after from Mantralaya in the name of development.”
     
    The other reasons are even more dangerous because they are based on a lack of understanding of democracy and what the mandate of elections means. He said “Parliamentary democracy is founded on two cardinals: the rule of law, and second, the idea of people as their own legislators, through the agency of elected delegates. The crucial issue... is the relationship between those who govern and those who are governed. If we are to preserve this, we must specify the terms and the limits of government action — the circumstances under which it can legitimately claim to be a government of the people, for the people and by the people... our only current method of doing this is by holding periodic elections. 
     
    “But what do elections achieve? They only establish ‘the democracy of authorisation’, the granting of permission to govern. Elections do not, by themselves, determine the relationship between the governors and the governed, only between representatives and their constituents—elections only legitimise the occupation of the post... Power being not a thing but a relation, the extent and manner of control over executive power determine whether a society succeeds or fails as a democracy—whether the power vests in the people or is exercised over them.” 
     
    When elected legislators fall into the trap of the Executive and more laws and more regulations are being brought into existence not primarily for the betterment of the populace, but precisely to augment the power of the Executive in controlling every aspect of the governed, when legislatures succumb to demands for expanding administrative control, by arming the Executive by more apparent lawful authority, it is an assault on democracy. THAT is where the judiciary has to step in and establish the rule of law. 
     
     
    Executive authoritarianism is marked by its resistance to judicial review. This is the one vital check on administrative excess. The persistent endeavour, again by the Executive through legislation, is to limit the space occupied by judicial review. “The thinking is simple. If you narrowly define the boundaries of judicial review, you are set at liberty beyond those limits.”
     
    Justice Patel said: “Judicial review is the one vital check on government and administrative excess. It is a critical component of the maintenance of the rule of law and, therefore, of the preservation of a participatory democratic republic... For the most part, courts are careful to stay within their boundaries. It is when executive action is found again and again to be utterly indefensible and misguided that we see expansive judicial interventions.”
     
    How do we rid ourselves of this oppression? How do we, in short, get ourselves good government, a return to the rule of law? We may, for one thing, consider an adaptation of a principle firmly entrenched in environmental law, the doctrine of public trust. This is not a strictly fiduciary relationship, in the sense of involving money, but it says that our governors are custodians who hold in trust for we, the people, things of common ownership... The principle is founded on a different concept of the nature of the relationship between the governed and the governor. It limits the dispositive powers of the governor... To the construction of permanent, sustainable, robust democracies, the renewed notion of trust is a central component. This trusteeship makes two essential demands — first, integrity; and second, truthfulness.
     
    Unfortunately, even as the Executive criticises the judiciary for its over-reach, into which its own actions and predilections force the judiciary, there is no attempt to correct the faulty civic structures and processes that make judicial intervention inevitable. 
     
    Ending on a note of hope, Justice Patel said the situation is not beyond repair. But “Our search for an answer must begin with a rudimentary understanding of what we are, or, at any rate, what we are supposed to be. For this, we must turn to our defining document, the Constitution. That document made a very conscious choice among the very many available for self-definition. It called us a democratic republic; neither one nor the other exclusively, but both, together. At its simplest, this means that sheer majority will not determine an outcome at any level; it is the law, a body of rules, structures, regulations and norms that are determinative.” 
     
    He said: “Democracies are noisy, messy, chaotic; but that is what they are meant to be because that is precisely what vox populi means. Systems in republics work more slowly than in authoritarian regimes precisely because of this overarching principle of the rule of law. Our impatience is with the form the processes of the rule of law take. We find them glacial, ponderous, confusing, illogical, out of step with technology and social needs.” But the choice is ours—as long as we remain a democratic republic.
     
    Watch the video of Justice Patel’s speech…
     
     
    Here is the copy of Justice Patel’s speech…
     
     
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