Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Bribes take e-wallet route, keep cops on tenterhooks

KOLKATA: 'Greasing the palms' is now passe. One can rephrase it greasing the mobile, instead. In times of liquidity crunch, bribery has undergone a metamorphosis -it has become `ebribe'. It no more changes hands, but mobile. The cyber crime section of the city police has come across complaints where bribe was demanded on mobile wallets against SIMs issued to fake identities.

Bribery , which is as ancient as human race, takes a new route. Kolkata Police, which has been keeping a track on the inflow and outflow of black money ever since demonetisation was announced, has come across the most ingenious ways to keep the tradition alive.The complaints are against officials of some enforcement agencies like income tax and sales tax, revenue intelligence and customs, who find it hassle-free and less risky to receive bribe on mobile wallets. Some cops, too, are under scanner.

Police have come across a complaint against a sales tax official who demanded bribe on three different mobile wallets. After receiving the money , he went to a department store. Because of his prior understanding with the store manager, he got cash back, with the department store keeping aside 10% margin. But the investigation hits a wall as the mobile is found to have been acquired against a fake name and the SIM was cautiously discontinued after a couple of similar transactions, said an officer. One, who is paying, certainly needs a bank account or credit account to transfer the money from the said account to his or her mobile wallet, but one does not need to have the bank account linked with the mobile wallet to receive the fund. The corrupt officials have found this handy to receive bribe without running the risk of being caught red handed. Money leaves a trail but this kind of transaction does not need to have the bank account linked with the mobile wallet to receive the fund. The corrupt officials have found this handy to receive bribe without running the risk of being caught red handed. Money leaves a trail but this kind of transaction does not after a point.Each and every wallet needs to be linked with bank accounts, only then the trail can be traced, said another officer.

There is belief that the SIM issued against fake identity is used only by terrorists. Now we suspect that many of these SIMs are used by corrupt officials for such transactions. Recently , the detective department tracked more than 80,000 SIMs issued against fake identities. Police checked voters list and found hundreds of fake documents against the names.Even the unique IMEI numbers of phones are frequently changed with easily-available software to erase the electronic footprints of such seedy transactions.


Thursday, 17 November 2016

BDA scam: Chargesheet against 2 IA&AS babus

Bangalore Mirror d 18/11/16
The CID wing of Karnataka police is gearing to file a chargesheet in the infamous BDA mutual fund scam against senior Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS) officer and former senior Coffee Board officer Sharada Subramaniam and her husband Sandeep Dash, another IAAS officer who was formerly heading the finance wing of Bangalore Development Authority ( BDA) for their alleged involvement in the scam. The bureaucrat couple will be charged for embezzlement and diversion of government funds from Coffee Board to invest in private mutual funds and afer suffering losses diverting funds from BDA to cover up the deficit amount. The CID has also framed similar charges against eight others involved in the scam with a total of around Rs 2,200 crore involving five former BDA officials and two private bank managers.

According to the chargesheet to be filed in the case, Sharada Subramaniam was the Coffee Board’s director from 1998 to 2003 when her husband Sandeep Dash was heading the finance wing of BDA (1997 - 2005). The couple allegedly invested funds from the Coffee Board through brokers in the mutual fund market and also managed to earn good commission before the market tanked. The investigators have claimed that a sum of Rs 4.04 crore of government money was invested in mutual funds by Subramaniam after taking the money from BDA, and again another Rs 1 crore was routed to the Coffee Board account. The Rs 4.04 crore was given back to BDA, but to fill-up the losses suffered due to a dip in the market, she used the BDA money of Rs 1 crore.

According to the special audit, in two transactions, the husband-wife team allegedly connived to transfer out money from BDA’s accounts to Coffee Board’s accounts and then on to Zurich Mutual Funds. The modus-operandi was: Two current accounts were opened in the name of Coffee Board in Indian Overseas Bank, Kumarapark branch where BDA’s accounts were held in 2001 and 2002. The Coffee Board accounts were opened, operated and closed within two years in the same bank branch, with a clear intent to facilitate the circular transactions. Account number ****1541 was opened in November 2001 and closed in December 2002, while ****5068 was opened in November 2001 and closed in May 2003. In 2002, in two transactions, Rs 4.04 crore and Rs 1 crore were transferred from BDA’s accounts to account nos. 1541 and 5068 in the Kumarapark branch of IOB, allegedly on Dash’s instructions. Subsequently, the money was channelised into private equities; a banker’s cheque was issued by the bank in November 2002 in favour of Zurich Mutual Fund (which later got merged with HDFC). The returns on this investment were credited into the Coffee Board’s director finance account held by Subramaniam. Since these two accounts in IOB were fake, the returns apparently accrued to the couple.

Overall, with just these two illegal transfer of funds, BDA suffered a loss of interest and capital to a tune of Rs 3.6 crore. The CID sleuths who were investigating the BDA scam took up the issue and started the investigation. “We have arrested all connected to the scam other than Subramaniam,” a senior police officer from CID said.

Subramaniam has been booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 409 and 420, cheating and misappropriation which carry a maximum punishment of 7 years jail and also booked under Section 13 of The Prevention of Corruption Act.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Leaked audio clip exposes corruption in water supply board

The New Indian Express Bengaluru d. 7/11/16
A 15-minute audio clip has brought out the stink in the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB).
A recording of a telephonic conversation between Audit Officer (AO) D Byranna and the Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE) of Bangalore East G D Somashekhar exposes the corruption at various levels in one office resulting in revenue loss running into crores for BWSSB. The conversation was in Kannada.
Remarks made by Byranna reveal that the East-2 Sub-Divisional Office alone caused a loss of `250 crore. This sub-division covers Hoodi, Marathahalli, AECS Layout and surrounding areas.
“A similar situation could prevail across many of its sub-divisions across the city, with varying amounts.

The clip has revealed the malpractices that took place in just one office. What is even more damaging is that AOs who went to investigate it have now been embroiled in the corruption,” said a top official.
The conversation was recorded by the AEE when the AO indirectly sought financial gratification to omit names of staff in the sub-division in an inquiry report by the BWSSB’s audit department into irregularities at the office. Express had highlighted this episode in a report on October 20. 
The full recording made available to Express, already made the rounds in the official WhatsApp group of BWSSB and has now landed at the Anti-Corruption Bureau office too.
In a conversation with the AEE, the AO alleges that buildings were given water connections illegally without collection of pro-rata charges (one-time payment for new water connections) from owners, thereby causing a loss to the board. The officer states that old meters were being unnecessarily replaced with new meters to erase recordings of pending bills. Water Inspectors and Assistant Executive Engineers pocketed an additional `1 lakh per month by indulging in such activities, alleges Byranna.
The reasons behind Somashekhar recording the conversation and releasing it on an official WhatsApp group have also come to the fore now. According to a BWSSB source, “Somashekhar was posted as AEE just a month ago and was being asked by Audit Officers to pay up for the corruption his predecessor indulged in. The unfairness of it all must have enraged him and he decided to go in for an expose to save himself.” The post was previously held by N C Kantha, the source said.
The AOs B G Krishna Kumar and Byranna have been asked to go on leave after the audio was made public. Their inquiry report had declared Somashekhar, Assistant Engineers S B Ramesh and Hanumanthganti, and
Water Inspectors Hareeshwar and Lakshman Naik to be guilty of malpractices. Theyhave all been suspended and further probe is on.

HC acquits I-T officials convicted in lower court

Bangalore Mirror d. 7/11/16
The two were convicted on charges of causing a Rs 10-cr loss to income tax dept

The High Court has overturned the verdict of a lower court and has acquitted two senior income tax (I-T) officials convicted on July 30 for five years on charges of causing a loss to the department to the tune of Rs 10.26 crore.

It was one of the high-profile cases last year as the legal counsel of one of these officials had sought permission to cross- examine President Pranab Mukherjee for sanctioning prosecution of his client, a high-serving I-T official.

The case, when it came before Justice Anand Byrareddy, had some heavyweights (two senior I-T officials, CBI and sons of former chiefs of Karnataka Lokayukta and State Vigilance Commission) engaged in a legal battle.

On Saturday, the High Court finally ruled in favour of Dheerendra Kumar Jha, an additional commissioner and UA Chandramouli, a deputy commissioner with the I-T department, pointing out that the prosecution failed to prove specific charges leveled against the accused and also that there was no valid sanction accorded to prosecute them from the sanctioning authority, the President and former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.


The case pertains to 2008. The CBI had registered a case pertaining to an I-T case that sleuths had taken up in August 2006, wherein a team of I-T officials led by Chandramouli had carried out an inspection at M/s Children’s Education Society (CES) in JP Nagar.

The case had been registered on charges of aiding an income tax assesse of monetary help to evade tax assessment.They were charged of entering into a criminal conspiracy with SN Narasaraju of CES in the matter of income tax. It had been further charged that a key document impounded during the survey carried out had been returned to Narasaraju without retaining copies of said documents on record and ignoring the financial transactions reflected therein while assessing the tax liability.


Sixteen witnesses had been examined, and 47 exhibits from prosecution and 15 from defence had been marked. The trial court on July 30, 2016, had convicted the DC, additional commissioner, sentencing them for rigorous imprisonment of 6 months and fine of Rs1 lakh for offence under IPC section 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) r/w IPC section 420 (cheating), 18 months and Rs.1.50 lakh for offence under IPC section 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture) of IPC, and again five years imprisonment and Rs 2.50 lakh fine under IPC section 420.


The same had been challenged by both in two separate appeals. Designated senior counsel Sheshachala, son of former lokayukta Justice N Venkatachala, put forth defense for the DC. The assessment order for financial year 2004-05 by Chandramouli was under section 144 of the I-T act and that the assessment order was a judicial order, he put forth. Further, the charge – that he returned the impounded document pertaining to assessment year 2004-05 without permission from his superior officer, was contended. He took a defence that under the I-T Act for retaining the document for more than 10 days the assessing officer should take permission and for returning the document, no such permission was required, nor the I-T Act contemplated such a contingency.

Senior counsel CG Sundar defended Jha. He maintained that latter couldn’t have interfered with the judicial order passed by DC. Charge that he did not interfere in the assessment order or in the release of fax sheet, is itself uncanny as IT act clearly mandated that no person shall interfere with the proceedings of the income tax authority by issuing orders, instructions and directions, argued Sundar on behalf of his client. The counsels also argued before the High Court that the trial court could not have convicted the duo in the absence of incriminating evidence against them and that the Income Tax commissioner had admitted before the court as a witness that there was no revenue loss to invoke recovery order section 263 of the Income Tax Act. Advocate Sundar pointed out that even the prosecution had admitted that the entire Rs 10.26 crore had been assessed contrary to the accusation made in the initially.


The High Court observed that the trial court had overlooked the basic principles of criminal jurisprudence and convicted accused on conjectures and surmises rather than evidence on record. The High Court rejected the prosecution contention that illegal gratification need not be specific and stated that it shall be quantified to prove the charge since that charge should be specific and not vague. It was observed that the prosecution failed to bring home the charge against the accused persons and observed that there was no sanction under section 197 before setting aside the order of trial court judge in its totality.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Lokayukta cops red-faced as court acquits officer caught ‘red-handed’

Bangalore Mirror d. 3/11/16
The Lokayukta police was once again left red-faced in the court room after a police officer who they caught ‘red-handed’, was acquitted. The investigators and the prosecution failed to establish or prove any of the charges levelled against him.

According to the charge-sheet submitted before the Lokayukta special court, V Raja Bovi, an assistant sub-inspector of police attached to Srirampura police station prior to his retirement, was allegedly caught ‘red-handed’ while accepting a bribe of Rs 25,000.

Bovi allegedly demanded the bribe for dropping the complainant’s brother’s name from the list of the accused in a 2010 case of murder.

The arrest had created a flutter back then as Bovi tried to escape and was apprehended after a brief chase on the city streets.

However, during the trial, it turned out that the complainant’s brother was never included as a suspect in the case. The Lokayukta special court acquitted Raja Bovi on Friday as the prosecution’s subsequent claims of accepting bribe for manipulating the probe fell flat before the court of law.


The Lokayukta police had registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Bovi based on the complaint filed by Ambuvelu that the former had demanded Rs 2 lakh to omit his brother’s name from the list of accused in a murder case (crime number 133/2010).

The complainant had further claimed that Bovi later scaled down his demand to Rs 50,000 and that he paid Rs 2,000 as a token payment as bribe.

Subsequently, the Lokayukta police had registered a case and had laid trap in July 2010, based on this. Bovi was arrested after a brief chase. He had tried to escape in an autorickshaw with the Rs 25,000 paid to him, but was caught ‘red handed’.

Recording of evidence in the case had begun in August 2014 after the police had filed a charge-sheet in the case. However, after hearing both the prosecution and defense, the court on Friday acquitted the accused.


The entire case was built around the allegation that the accused (Bovi) accepted bribe to delete the complainant’s brother’s name from a list of suspects in the murder case. However this was dismissed in the courtroom after it was found that the complainant’s brother was never an accused in the murder case. The defence lawyers also pointed out that Bovi was not directly involved with any murder case as an investigating officer.

The accused had claimed before the court that the money he accepted from the complainant was not a bribe but repayment of a loan which the complainant had taken from him in the past.

The defense capitalised on the prosecution’s failure to establish basic motive and demand of bribe in the case; and claimed that mere acceptance was not enough to prove corruption.

It was brought to the court’s notice that the investigating officer in the case did not bother to cross verify Bovi’s claim of loan repayment which finally led to the collapse of the case and acquittal of Raja Bovi.

“The prosecution has failed to prove the demand of bribe amount by the accused, which is an essential requirement to prove the offences under section 7 and 13 of the Prevention Of Corruption Act... Considering all these aspects, I hold that the prosecution has failed to bring home the guilt of the accused for the offences punishable under sec 7 and 13 of the PC Act by leading cogent, concrete and convincing evidence before this court,” the court observed citing the failure to establish the cash as illegal gratification.

Former Lokayukta officials opined that the acquittal was a result of shoddy probe carried out in an amateurish manner by the investigators.
“If the investigating officer had done his homework and counter-checked the veracity of the complaint, he would have realised that the so called murder was not registered and the subsequent allegations will not stand before the law. They should act in a responsible manner, and not waste public money and resource. They should ascertain and verify facts to present a water tight case to ensure conviction,” said a retired Lokayukta SP.

The case had two senior defence counsels representing Bovi – K Janardhan who passed away during the trial, and later advocate CG Sundar.
Meanwhile, the prosecution maintained that the police would seek legal opinion and decide whether to file an appeal in the case.

Monday, 3 October 2016

In Lokayukta, action against small fry okayed, big fish files don't get sanction orders

Bangalore Mirror d. 4/19/2016
It seems the state government has a double-standard policy when it comes to prosecuting corrupt officials; one based on rank and political clout. Sanction orders to prosecute small fry accused of accepting bribes of Rs20 and Rs100 are passed in a jiffy, but files seeking the nod to hook the bigger fish -- accused of abetting massive scams -- are lying untouched, gathering dust.

The state government is sitting on at least 145 Prosecution Sanction Orders (PSO) against senior bureaucrats and officials from as many as 23 departments. Though legal experts and a section of officials claim that action should be taken against all corrupt government servants, they pointed out that the government’s two-faced approach was a matter of serious concern.

A top government official revealed that the Lokayukta institution was awaiting PSOs in 145 cases, most involving high-ranking officers. The majority of these pending orders are from the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (RDPR), Home, Urban Development, and Energy departments.

“In cases pertaining to accepting a bribe, disproportionate assets cases, raids, and cases of dereliction of duty against officials and elected representatives, sanctions are pending, and prominent ones are special officer to chief minister, Gutti Jamunath, formerly Davanagere ZP CEO; Ballari MP Sriramulu; IAS officer S M Raju; chief engineer HC Jayachandra; chief engineer B Guruprasad; besides other department officials including directors, executive engineers, junior engineers, village panchayat secretaries, zilla panchayat chief officers, tahsildars and PDOs (Panchayat Development Officers). In all these cases the government has not given its sanction or a rejection of sanction is being contested,” a lokayukta officer told Bangalore Mirror.

As per a government circular issued on September 26, 2011, a sanction to facilitate the legal process in corruption cases has to be given within three months. Senior officials told BM that the callous attitude in these cases was despite repeated reminders and letters to the government seeking the green signal to initiate legal proceedings against the tainted officials. Without the sanction order, the Lokayukta police cannot proceed with the cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

This sanction order is a constitutional provision extended to accused officials to present their arguments and explanations to their superior officers before the clearance is given to officially charge them. If the sanctioning authority or competent authority is satisfied or finds such defence justifiable then he can reject the sanction.

“Repeated reminders have been sent from the Lokayukta registrar’s office to the concerned state government departments for granting sanction to proceed with corruption cases involving high-profile officers, but so far there has been no response,” said a senior Lokayukta official.

Meanwhile, legal experts have stated that this provision was now being misused to dodge prosecution and protect officials under the Lokayukta scanner. However, in certain cases involving small amounts like Rs20 and Rs 1,000 and ranks like lineman, village accountant, bill collector, or a constable, sanctions are quickly accorded.

“The very purpose of legislation enacting section 19 to prevent frivolous sanction has been defeated monotonously by the sanctioning authority by mechanically granting sanction where small amounts and lower grade clerks and staffers are involved, and by turning a blind eye to cases involving huge amounts and top officers. This can be seen from the manner in which the chargesheets are filed in trap cases, where 90 per cent of cases will not exceed a few lakh.

“Here, sanction is granted within days and records show that where huge amounts are involved, it is kept pending from as far back as 2005. This provision is widely misused to suit the needs of influential officers, and High Court directives to send cases involving small amounts to departmental inquiry by the sanctioning authorities over criminal prosecution is not adhered,” CG Sundar, a senior advocate said.

Law minister TB Jayachandra, when contacted, said the issue would be looked into to ensure pendency is redressed. Subhash Chandra Khuntia, the new chief secretary of the state, said, “The general principle is that quick decisions have to be taken. However, I’m yet to look into details of it. Pendency aspect will be looked into.”

Department and officials against whom sanctions have been sought

DC (excise) Somashekarappa; finance advisor, PWD, Govindraju; M H Nagesh, CFO Chickballapur ZP; Mahantappa Erappa Sulibavi CFO, KBJNL Almatti

Cooperative department

Joint registrar Satish; registrar Thimmaiah,

ACP Siddaramaiah; Mandya rural CPI Krishna Murthy; NK Rangaswamy CID PI; PSIs Nilesh Ganapathy, SH Shankar, Somla Nayak; KS Sundaraj DySp ISD

Urban Development department

Hubli-Dharwad commissioner M Thippesh; AEE Chitradurga municipality, AR Chidanand; Mysuru corporation AC Ravi Kumar; Hubballi-Dharwad corporator Bashir Ahmed; Hubballi-Dharwad corporation junior engineer, SN Puttananvar.

Revenue and others

Ballari DDLR (Deputy Director of Land Records) L Narayanaswamy; Karnataka University professor Dr Noor Jahan; Davanagere TP staffer SL Prabhudeva (PWD); BT Mohan executive engineer, minor irrigation, Ballari; SM Raju; KM Narayaswamy IFS; class one officers Rajappa, Shashidar; Bagli tahsildar tourism assistant director Kamlapura; planning department GR Omkarappa; CO Davangere ZP, road safety director TP Narayanswamy. The designations of officers against whom sanction have been sought or is being contested are from the time the cases were taken up.  

Scams grow on trees too; ask BBMP

Bangalore Mirror d. 4/10/2016
t was a brazen scam that ought to have become a case study in itself; one that many knew of, but no one had quantified, either by design or default.

The long and short of it, as Bangalore Mirror has found after examining court documents, was this: 228 trees were felled for a paltry Rs 2.47 lakh when they could have fetched at least 10 times that amount; lakhs of rupees were later siphoned off and shown as expenditure to fell the same (non-existent) trees for road-widening; and all this was done without following procedures that are mandated by a number of environmental laws. Worse, all senior officials both in the state government and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) would have been in the know of things since matters were later filed in court.
This scam was a bizarre series of financial irregularities and fraudulent activities by BBMP officials that were meticulously documented by environmental activists, and clubbed together as annexures to an interlocutory application that was to be presented to court during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL). An interlocutory application is “an application to the court in any suit, appeal or proceedings already instituted in such court, other than a proceeding for execution of a decree or order.”

But when the Karnataka High Court rejected the petition in June 2015, the chance to nail the culprits and also tell the people of the city how officials had been violating laws and looting the public was lost. The application was to have been heard in court the very day that the original petition was rejected.

  How the scam cropped up

The scam dates back much earlier—to 2007-08 when trees were being felled for the widening of Bellary Road (the stretch that leads from Chalukya Circle to the airport). The number of trees felled and the amount recovered were mentioned in response to queries filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by CIVIC Bangalore. The NGO was one of the three petitioners in the PIL that had in May 2008 challenged the flouting of urban planning norms and process for road-widening activities by the BBMP.

The RTI responses had come on February 4, 2008, but were clubbed together as part of the interlocutory application on September 4, 2012. Petitioners had planned to take it up on June 8, 2015. However, that day the court rejected the PIL, saying that the second petitioner (Leo Saldanha of Environment Support Group) had an office abutting a road that was slated for widening. The court said, “Some amount of private interest is involved in this litigation, and, therefore, this case cannot be termed as public interest litigation.” ESG itself was the first petitioner, Saldanha the second, and CIVIC Bangalore the third.

At the time of filing of the petition in May 2008, the ESG office was located East End B Main Road in Jayanagar. The NGO later shifted to Outer Ring Road in Banashankari. When the PIL was admitted, no widening of roads were taking place near ESG’s Jayanagar office. The locus standi of Saldanha was never disputed in the eight years when the case was heard in the high court, and over 45 preceding hearings. Many interim orders, seen to be landmark in import, had also been passed earlier in the case.
What the scam was about

The RTI responses were reported about, but few cared to look into the fine print. It was not simply about 228 trees being felled in the 2007-08 fiscal year (ending January 31, 2008) on Bellary Road for an amount of Rs 2,47,322; it also about what tree species were felled, and what amounts were recovered.

In one instance, 19 trees were felled near CBI junction, and auctioned off for a paltry Rs 25,000. These included five mahogany trees, and two raintrees. On the Cunningham Road - Ramanashree junction, nine trees were felled for an amount of a meagre Rs 3,096. This lot included four Ashoka trees. Worse, nine Ashoka trees, four gulmohars and one raintree were chopped down near the Windsor Manor Bridge - Sankey Road Underpass for a measly Rs 4,334.

Leave alone the ecological worth of the trees, the commercial value of the trees were not evaluated in the media either. Even by conservative estimates, the trees that were felled on Bellary Road would have been worth more than Rs 1 lakh each, with some of the fully-grown and mature trees possibly reaching even Rs 4 lakh in commercial terms; these fetched the BBMP a trifle more than Rs 1,000 each. The loss to the public exchequer could have been anything between Rs 2.5 crore and Rs 5.0 crore.

But what happened subsequently was even more baffling.

Between November 5 and November 18, 2008, an amount of at least Rs 4,25,850 was spent for tree-felling on the same stretch on Bellary Road. Five sheets extracted from BBMP’s Detailed Contingent Bill Register showed 46 instances of public funds being withdrawn from the exchequer for hiring contractors to fell trees, including Bellary Road. Most of the entries in the register do not even mention the area where trees were felled. Road-widening and tree-felling on Bellary Road, which finds specific mention in five instances, had already been completed in time for the inauguration of the airport in May 2008.

A closer look at the sheets—that were later submitted as annexures in the interlocutory application—shows the callousness and impunity with which these were done. The works were mentioned under three ambiguous heads: “undertaking tree-felling”, “maintaining tree-felling” and “daily wage for tree-felling”. In none of the entries were the number of trees mentioned, and nor the exact location of the activity entered in as many as 37 of the entries. The amounts withdrawn were even more irregular. In ten instances, Rs 95,000 were shown as bill value; in nine other cases, the bill value was identical: Rs 90,400.

Culprits go scot-free

Quantifying the exact loss to the exchequer on account of selling trees at throwaway or questionable prices is the job of a competent authority like the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) of the country, but the violations were there for all to see and ascertain.

Since the interlocutory application had already been filed, all the respondents to the petition (even if it was eventually rejected) would have been aware of the contents, which included documentation of the two scams. The respondents included the chief secretary, the principal secretary to the department of forests, ecology and environment, the BBMP commissioner, the palike tree officer, besides eleven others.

In simple words, all top officials both in the government and palike were aware of what was going on, but nobody did anything to prevent the loot and destruction of the city’s forest wealth. And mind you, this was a scam pertaining only to one road in a city where 400 roads were marked by the BBMP for widening.

Delhi: Senior civil judge arrested by CBI on charges of taking Rs 20 lakh bribe

Indian Express d. 29/9/2016

A senior civil judge from a Delhi court was arrested by the CBI Thursday on charges of bribery and produced in a special court, which remanded her to judicial custody. Sitting judge Rachna Tiwari Lakhanpal has been accused by the investigating agency of allegedly striking a deal in connection with a case she was adjudicating. According to sources, of the alleged deal of Rs 20 lakh deal, Rs 5 lakh had been paid to the accused judge. Her husband Alok Lakhanpal, who is a practicing advocate, is a co-accused in the case.
A special court remanded her to judicial custody. Her husband and another accused, Vikas Mehal, who was appointed as court commissioner by the accused judge in the civil case, were remanded to two-days police custody. According to the source, the court commissioner appointed by the judge played the role of a middleman. Sources also said that the CBI raided the Lakhanpals’ residence at Gulabi Bagh judicial complex in the early hours on Thursday and recovered Rs 93.6 lakh in total.
The source also said Rs 60 lakh was recovered from the bedroom of the Lakhanpals, and the rest of the recovered from children’s bedroom. The complaint, the source said, is of September 27. There were two witnesses, both government officials, present during the raid, sources said.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

ACB probing irregularities in irrigation project contracts: Maharashtra Minister "The matter is being investigated by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) as the contractor has been charged with irregularity." said Girish Mahajan.

The Indian Express d. 31/8/16
After the Maharashtra government scrapped several irrigation project contracts, the state’s Irrigation Minister, Girish Mahajan, has confirmed that the matter is being investigated.
“The matter is being investigated by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) as the contractor has been charged with irregularity. He has even been sent to jail and an FIR has been lodged against him,” Mahajan told ANI Wednesday.
Mahajan said project work has been stopped and the cabinet has decided to scrap it till a decision is made within the next two to three days, he added.
“We will give the projects to new contractors and they come on a time-bound basis. Whoever is involved in this matter will not be spared,” he said.
The Maharashtra Government has scrapped irrigation contracts worth Rs. 6,000 crores that were sanctioned by the Congress-NCP alliance when they were in power. These include as many as 300 projects currently under probe. Former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar is under the scanner for sanctioning some of these projects.
The Maharashtra government has decided to scrape 12 irrigation projects in the Konkan region, 81 in the Gosikhurd region and 94 in the Nasik region. The total amount allotted for these project is an estimated Rs. 3,995 crores.

Tamil Nadu: Boy begs to pay bribe to officer after father's death

Deccan Chronicle d. 28/8/16
Chennai: A 15-year-old boy from Tamil Nadu has shamed district administration officials in Tamil Nadu by begging in public places to pay off a bribe.
According to NDTV, trouble began when 45-year-old Kolanji of M Kunnathoor village in Villupuram district died in February last year.
His 15-year-old son Ajit had to wait for a over a year to collect a state compensation of Rs 12,500 under farmers' social security scheme. But the village administrative officer allegedly asked Ajit for a bribe of Rs 3,000 in order to pay him the compensation.
But since Ajit could not pay the money, he created a banner asking for help to collect money to pay the bribe, said the report. The banner, written in Tamil, reads that he is in no position to repay the money borrowed for his father's last rites and he has been asked to pay Rs. 3,000 as bribe by the M. Kunnathoor village administrative officer. He began to beg inside buses and other public places in order to collect the money.
An embarrassed district administration ordered a probe on Saturday. The officer, VAO Subramanian, has been relieved from his post pending inquiry. Subramanian has denied the charge of demanding a bribe.

Corruption case registered against DCW Chief Swati Maliwal d. 20/9/16
The Anti-Corruption Branch of the Delhi government on Tuesday filed a case against Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chief Swati Maliwal.
Reports quoted ACB chief Mukesh Kumar Meena confirming the registration of an FIR against Swati Maliwal.
As per reports, Maliwal was booked was booked under Sections 13 (Criminal misconduct by a public servant) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 409 (Criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on late Monday night.
arlier on ACB had questioned Maliwal for over two hours. Further investigation is on.
Responding to the development Swati Maliwal tweeted that she would end her life if anyone proves corruption worth a single rupee in her entire life.

Five arrested for chopping MGNREGA officer's hand

The Times of India Bengaluru d. 19/9/16
BENGALURU: Nearly a week after the horrific incident, five contractors were arrested for chopping the right hand of an honest officer for refusing to clear inflated bills.

On September 15, The Times of India reported about HR Srinivas, who is a technical consultant engineer for implementing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA), and how he paid a price for his honesty.
On Sunday, Kudur police confirmed the arrests of Channakeshava, Lakshmana, Manjunath, Punith Chamanna, all aged between 21 and 31 years. They have been slapped with IPC sections 307 (attempt to murder), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) , 34 (common intention of committing a crime). 
The angry contractors had tried in every possible way to get the inflated bills passed, but when they saw 53-year-old Srinivas refusing to toe their line, they attacked him and chopped off his right hand with a machete when he was on his way home. Srinivas was admitted to a hospital in Basaveshwaranagar, Bengaluru, before he was discharged three days ago.
ppointed to Kunigal taluk in T umakuru district, Srinivas discover ed some illegalities in the MGNREGA scheme, and when he tried to raise his voice against them, he paid a heavy price. Srinivas's job was to give technical sanctions to the works undertaken and to check measurements. He's the h ead of a team of five engineers and it's his finding which determines how much the contractors are paid, based on their quality of work.
One of the accused, Channa Keshava, had barged into the taluk office and warned Srinivas of dire consequences if he reduced the amount. Srinivas told him that he used poor-quality construction materials and didn't deserve the estimated amount. Channa Keshava threatened him and said: "I'll chop off your hand if you sign the modified bill." Undeterred, Srinivas and his senior decided to go by the rulebook. 

Vigilance officers deployed to fight corruption in govt departments

Times of India Bengaluru d. 19/9/16
BENGALURU: Karnataka has entered the league of states where a full-fledged anti-corruption mechanism is in place to keep tabs on corrupt bureaucrats in the state administration.

After dilly-dallying for months, the Karnataka government has appointed chief vigilance officers (CVOs) who are deputy secretary/ joint secretary rank officers in all major government departments. "The CVO post has been given to officers next in seniority to the head in every government department, other than principal secretaries and secretaries, to ensure surveillance on corruption and initiate action against employees as recommended by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) or Lokayukta,'' said Pallavi Akurathi, deputy secretary, department of personnel and administrative reforms.
Separate CVOs are being appointed for public utilities in the energy, public works, rural development and panchayat raj departments. "Earlier, there was no anti-corruption mechanism in the engineering and construction sections where there are complaints of corruption at every step,'' official sources added. Akurathi said the government will soon take steps to appoint CVOs in the commissionerates and directorates of all government departments and, later, in all district offices. "Right now, there's shortage of staff to set up full-fledged vigilance cells. The CVO will be tasked with the job of strengthening the vigilance cell with fresh recruitments over the new few years,'' Akurathi said. 
The CVOs, however, will have no powers to act independently against officials. Citing the guidelines set for CVOs, a senior ACB officer said that CVOs cannot initiate suo motu action against graft complaints or about disproportionate assets against public servants. "After a complaint is filed against a government employee, the ACB or Lokayukta will act independently and confidentially, including collecting information and verification with the help of CVOs. It's the duty of CVOs to take action against dereliction in duty and corruption as recommended by ACB or Lokayukta. Till now, the department's prior approval was required for even that. Now, the ACB on its own can collect and verify cases with the help of CVOs, who is duty-bound to provide information within 15 days," he added.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Middlemen chop honest officer's hand for not clearing fake bills

New Indian Express dated 16/9/2016
BENGALURU: His right forearm swathed in bandages, H R Srinivas is unfazed. “I have been in service for over 25 years and have worked honestly. I have another seven years to go but nothing will stop me from continuing to work without fear,” says the engineer with Kunigal taluk panchayat in Tumakuru, who suffered a brutal attack on Monday night for refusing to clear inflated bills.
Two men on a bike attacked him with a machete, chopping his forearm, when he was on his way to his residence in Magadi from Kunigal.
 Srinivas, who as technical consultant with the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department  oversees implementation of job schemes of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in Kunigal, was being threatened by the middlemen for not clearing their bills.
Doctors have said he may not feel sensation in three fingers of his right hand. He has been asked to take a month’s rest. “I have been working in Kunigal for the past three years and will continue to work there,” he says.
RDPR Minister H K Patil and other senior officials visited Srinivas. On his family’s insistence, Srinivas has shifted to his sister’s house in RT Nagar for the sake of safety. Minister Patil said, “The department will bear the medical expenses of Srinivas and we are committed to protect the officials of the department. I have also directed police to nab the accused at the earliest.”
Corruption has been rampant in the MGNREGA job schemes. Kunigal MLA Nagarajaiah said the purpose of the scheme has been to provide direct jobs to workers but middlemen continue to
hrive by inflating bills and misappropriating funds.
Accused Channakeshava  alias Keshava and Manjunath, who attacked Srinivas, have been absconding since the incident.
Srinivas H R, a Technical Consultant in the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) department in Kunigal taluk of Tumakuru district, who was allegedly attacked by some middlemen for not clearing their fake bills, says he was also threatened earlier for working honestly. In an interview with Kiran Parashar K M, the upright official says these days, threats to government officials have become a professional hazard. Excerpts:
Why did they attack you?
We had allotted works to labourers (under MGNREGA) to dig pits to recharge underground water when it rains. A sum of `52,000 for each pit was mentioned. I, along with Kunigal Taluk Panchayat officer Narasimhaiah, visited the place and found that the quality of the work was compromised and the bill had excess amount. I had cut around `10,000 for each work. This had enraged Keshava and Manjunath. They were after me since a week. As my assessment was on the rightpath, I did not bother much. These are not works handed over to middlemens, but to labourers. But middlemen lure the labourers by paying money in advance and make a profit (by inflating bills) later.What exactly happened on September 12?
After I finished my work, I was on my way home near Magadi. Around 7.30 pm, I was close to a farm somewhere near Talakere Post when two men, armed with machetes, attacked me. They aimed for my head, but somehow I managed to escape and was injured on my right hand. I turned my vehicle and rode a few metres before I fell down. People rushed me to a hospital and I regained consciousness only the next day. Doctors told me that I may need at least a month to recover. I feel I was fortunate to miss death by a whisker.
Did you have any inkling that they would attack you?
Though I was threatened thrice on the same day, I had never expected the attack. That day, I had got two phone calls (Srinivas claimed that he has recorded the conversations) and the caller threatened me to sanction the bill. The first call was made around 1.30 pm. Around 3.30 pm, two people (Keshava and Manjunath) entered the office and openly threatened me that they will chop off my hand for reducing the bill. The executive officer and other colleagues were also in office that time. Around 4.30 pm, I received another phone call with the caller threatening me again that he would not spare me at any cost. And they were true!
But what stopped you from filing a complaint?
My executive officer, who had witnessed the entire act, told me to file a complaint with the police. As I had many works to complete, I neglected it and continued working.
Were you ever threatened at work before?
These days, threats to government officials have become a professional hazard, especially when you work in rural areas. Though threats were common, I had never expected this sort of incident. This was the first time that these middlemen went to such an extent. What hurts me most is that it happened in my native place (Kunigal taluk).

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Fadnavis, BMC quick to respond as Kapil Sharma tweets to PM Modi complaining of corruption

Indian Express dated 9/9/16
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the richest civic body in the country, were quick to respond to allegations of corruption and bribe-taking made by popular comedian and actor Kapil Sharma.
Sharma earlier today tweeted out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi complaining that he has to pay Rs 5 lakh as bribe to the BMC for getting approval for an office in spite of paying income tax regularly. The actor’s Twitter base that accounts for more than six million followers made sure the tweet went viral and knocking at the doors of important people.

Karnataka Government sitting on six ACB proposals on filing FIRs

The New Indian Express d 8/9/2016
BENGALURU: The state government is sitting on six proposals from the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) seeking sanction to register FIRs against tainted bureaucrats/officials after prima facie case was found against them.
Replying to a query at a press conference here on Wednesday, ADGP-ACB K V Gagandeep said the six proposals sent to the state government have been pending since a month.
However, sources said at least three similar requests have been pending since last four months.
To a question on the preliminary investigation into three cases registered with regard to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s controversial Hublot watch, Gagandeep said, “We are still investigating this case and have sought details from the Customs Department and Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is also probing the matter.”
According to sources, not only is the state government sitting on proposals seeking sanction for filing FIR, it has also not approved the guidelines sent by the ACB on various aspects of investigation including the deadline for completion of preliminary investigation into complaints filed by the public.
Therefore, there is no clarity on completion of preliminary investigation and hence the CM’s watch row is still at the preliminary stage of investigation even three months after a complaint was filed.
According to M A Saleem, IGP-ACB, three complaints were filed in connection with the Hublot watch case. They include one filed by advocate Nataraj Sharma and another petition transferred to the ACB by the Lokayukta police. “We are collecting details from different departments,” Saleem said.
When asked about the land scam allegedly involving Chief Secretary Arvind Jadhav, Gagandeep said the case is under preliminary investigation and they are still collecting documents.

ACB wants govt. to keep it out of RTI Act ambit

The Hindu dated 8/9/16
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has written to the government seeking permission to be exempted from the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The request was made a few months ago and was a step toeing the Central Bureau of Investigation and the State Criminal Investigation Department, which are out of the purview of the RTI Act.
K.V. Gagandeep, Additional Director-General of Police, ACB, said it was very unlikely for the State government to give the green signal for their request.
Apart from this request, another one pending government sanction is the permission to conduct investigation into cases against government officials in which preliminary investigation has been completed. Mr. Gagandeep was addressing mediapersons here on Wednesday to announce searches in the offices and homes of three government officials.
The ACB sleuths searched the house of Srinivasa Reddy, Deputy Director, Commerce and Industries, Chintamani, Chickballapur district, and his office in Kolar; house of Sampath Krishna, Deputy Director, Mines and Geology Department, at R.T. Nagar here and his office in V.V. Towers; and house of G.T. Srinivas, second-grade clerk, Chickballapur Taluk Office.
“We seized documents, and investigation is on,” said M.A. Saleem, Inspector-General of Police, ACB.
About the luxury watch case involving the Chief Minister, he said they were awaiting information from

IPS officers pay up for the games they played in Oz

Bangalore Mirror d 9/9/16
As Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, Abhishek Goyal and Raman Gupta are supposed to uphold the law; it is their duty and calling. On a study trip to Australia, however, the two young officers forgot their oath and indulged themselves: bunking classes, not wearing their uniform; they even took their families along on taxpayers' money.

In a major embarrassment to the state government, the two have now been let off with a rap on their knuckles: a written unconditional apology and recovery of the money that the government spent on sending them for the study tour in Australia (Rs 65,000 each).

While Goyal is Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Gupta is serving as Superintendent of Police in the newly formed Anti-Corruption Bureau. Both had gone to Australia as part of a mid-career training programme with the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (NPA). However, they were not awarded the course completion certificate due to the alleged 'misconduct, gross indiscipline and insubordination'.

The charges against the officers pertain to the training held between November 3, 2015 and November 27, 2015, followed by a foreign exposure study visit from November 29, 2015 to December 4, 2015 in Australia.

The National Police Academy filed a draft charge sheet against the officers and asked for a penalty to be imposed on them (recovery of money spent on their tour). It constituted a two-member team -- S Raveendran, deputy director and Putta Vimaladitya (IPS) - to investigate the alleged misconduct of the officers.

The NPA investigation found that Goyal wore jeans, T-shirt and sports shoes for the forenoon session despite the faculty coordinator having briefed the participants about the dress code. Gupta's conduct was the same.

Also, Goyal and Raman wanted to be exempted from attending the last leg of the scheduled training at Melbourne. Despite the faculty coordinator's refusal, both remained in Brisbane and didn't attend the last leg of the program in Melbourne on December 4, 2015.

The letter states that the officers 'forcefully' brought along their families in the bus from Gold Coast despite clear instructions that families were not allowed to travel on the same bus due to insurance-related instructions.

Although they were warned repeatedly, the officers did not mend their ways and 'showed gross indiscipline and insubordination, vitiating the training atmosphere bringing disrepute to both the Academy and the IPS fraternity'.

"Complaints reached the DG&IGP's office about Goyal and Gupta. Notices were given to both asking for an explanation. Both gave replies with an un-conditional apology and also refunded the money which the government spent on sending them to Australia. The money was refunded to the National Police Academy. After this, the case has been closed and the same was conveyed to NPA, the state government and also to the Ministry of Home Affairs," ADGP, Administration, Praveen Sood told Bangalore Mirror.


Sunday, 28 August 2016

Bribe-givers may get 7 days to come clean

August 23, 2016

A proposed bill before Parliament, that seeks to amend the 1988 Prevention of Corruption Act, states only those who inform an agency before paying bribe and help catch the bribe-receiver redhanded should be spared. But a select committee of Parliament, which has studied the bill, in its report said there was no protection to the "coercive bribe-giver" who may have been "compelled" to do so.

"The committee recommends that if the bribe-giver within seven days of giving or paying bribe to a public servant reports the matter to police or law enforcing agency, he may be given immunity from criminal prosecution," the committee said. It has suggested the bill be modified to say the provisions of the same would not apply where a person is compelled to give an undue advantage to an official and the person so compelled reports the matter to police within seven days of giving the said bribe.

In its presentation before the committee, the government said only judiciary can analyse evidence and define parameters to ascertain if the bribe-giver was a willing partner or was forced to commit such crime involuntarily.

"There is every likelihood that most of the bribegivers, though acting in collusion, may claim that bribe was paid under compulsion to evade and escape punishment. In view of the government's policy of zero tolerance to corruption, no distinction in bribegiving, except giving protection to bribe-giver who informs police/probe agencies prior to payment of bribe to public servant, is justified," the DoPT told the select committee.

However, civil society members told the panel that coercive bribegivers are "the victim of the crime of bribery" and should not be treated on a par with collusive bribe-givers. The panel tended to agree with the civil society more than the government.

Source:-The Economic Times

If a bribe-giver informs the police or a law enforcement agency within seven days of his action, he may receive immunity from criminal prosecution.

A proposed bill before Parliament, that seeks to amend the 1988 Prevention of Corruption Act, states only those who inform an agency before paying bribe and help catch the bribe-receiver redhanded should be spared. But a select committee of Parliament, which has studied the bill, in its report said there was no protection to the "coerciv ..

If a bribe-giver informs the police or a law enforcement agency within seven days of his action, he may receive immunity from criminal prosecution.

A proposed bill before Parliament, that seeks to amend the 1988 Prevention of Corruption Act, states only those who inform an agency before paying bribe and help catch the bribe-receiver redhanded should be spared. But a select committee of Parliament, which has studied the bill, in its report said there was no protection to the "coerciv ..

If a bribe-giver informs the police or a law enforcement agency within seven days of his action, he may receive immunity from criminal prosecution.

A proposed bill before Parliament, that seeks to amend the 1988 Prevention of Corruption Act, states only those who inform an agency before paying bribe and help catch the bribe-receiver redhanded should be spared. But a select committee of Parliament, which has studied the bill, in its report said there was no protection to the "coerci ..

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

CBI case against former VC of Viswa Bharati University

CBI case against former VC of Viswa Bharati University

24th May, 2016

 The CBI has registered a case against the former Vice Chancellor of the Viswa Bharati University, Sushanta Kumar Duttagupta and four others for allegedly flouting University Grants Commission rules in the appointment of a Deputy Registrar.
The FIR is based on information that the agency received alleging that, these officials entered into a criminal conspiracy to appoint Shyamala Ray Nair as the Deputy Registrar of the University in violation of UGC guidelines. The case sights Nair not meeting the required educational criteria and exceeding the maximum fixed age by at least 7 years.
The case has been registered under sections 120B of IPC read with 13(2) read with 13(1) (D) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.The respective sections dealing with the offences of criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct by a public servant.
Duttagupta was sacked by President Pranab Mukherjee in February after a Home Ministry report on financial and administrative irregularities at the university. His sacking was the first such instance of sacking of a VC of a central university. The cause of such action was the allegation that he was drawing a salary from Viswa Bharati University and a pension from JNU simultaneously. The legal course he was obligated to take instead, was to deduct the pension amount form the salary paid to him by the Viswa Bharati University. Subsequently he challenged the legality of the ministry’s fact finding committee but his petition was dismissed by the Calcutta High Court.
The prestigious central university was founded by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and boasts of alumni such as Satyajit Ray and Amartya Sen. It is sad to see that even institutions such as Viswa Bharati are plagued by the menace of corruption.

Thank You,
Abhishek Misra