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Law Minister at the wheel in CBI’s U-turn on Mulayam case

The Central Bureau of Investigation’s U-turn withdrawing its interim application in the Mulayam Singh Yadav disproportionate assets case...

Ritu Sarin & Amitav Ranjannew Delhi | December 14, 2008 2:35:10 am

The Central Bureau of Investigation’s U-turn withdrawing its interim application in the Mulayam Singh Yadav disproportionate assets case this week came after Solicitor General Goolam E Vahanvati criticised the manner in which the agency calculated his assets and clubbed them with those of his relatives.

Vahanvati’s six-page opinion, “accepted” in writing by Law Minister H R Bharadwaj and effectively demolishing the CBI case, came days after an intervention by Mulayam’s daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav (wife of son Akhilesh Yadav).

In a letter on October 27 this year, she wrote to Prithviraj Chauhan, Minister of State for Personnel & Training — the DoPT is the CBI’s administrative Ministry — asking him to take “appropriate steps in the interest of justice.”

In her letter, a copy of which has been obtained by The Sunday Express, Dimple Yadav says that “all loans and properties are reflected, disclosed and were very much part of the assessment probe before income tax authorities. No irregularity was ever found by any authorities in regard to the income and assets of our entire family, leave alone Mulayam Singh Yadav.”

“The only advance received by Akhilesh Yadav (Rs 1.25 crore) and (his brother) Prateek Yadav (Rs 1 crore) from the Lisa builders Pvt Limited towards the sale of property at village Kamta Lucknow. Subsequently, sale deed was executed,” she wrote.

The CBI is said to have pegged the value of the “disproportionate assets” of the Yadav family at around Rs 2 crore. Vahanvati is said to have questioned the assessment of the agency that Mulayam owned several “benami” properties.

Citing several Supreme Court judgments, he also opposed the lumping together of assets of members of the Yadav family into one DA case when his sons and daughter-in-law are individual income tax assessees.

The case goes back to 2005 when a PIL was filed in the apex court by lawyer Vishwanath Chaturvedi in which he claimed that 18 registered and benami properties were owned by Mulayam, 11 by his son Akhilesh Yadav; six by Dimple Yadav and two by his second son Prateek.

These included a bungalow in New Delhi and several properties in Lucknow and Etawah as well agricultural land owned by the Yadav family, their fixed deposits and other investments, all adding up to hundreds of crores.

However, Mulayam, in his affidavit, denied the petitioner’s claims.

For example, he said that four plots in Gomti Nagar in Etawah belonged to people with whom he had no relationship; a property in Ramana Dilkhusha mohalla of Lucknow purchased for Rs 1.65 crore was bought for the party and was reflected in its balance sheet. And the Chaudhary Charan Singh Post Graduate College in Etawah was worth Rs 100 crore and managed by a society owned by Mulayam’s brother.

In March 2007, Justice A R Lakshmanan asked the CBI to file a status report on the allegation and to submit it to the “Union of India.” A review petition filed by Akhilesh Yadav is still pending in the apex court.

However, in October 2007, in a rare move, the CBI filed an interim application in which it pointed out that the agency has always had a free hand in registration of cases and has never been required to make a “reference” to the Central Government.

What appeared to be in October 2007 as an assertion of the CBI’s independence, ended up a year later with the DA case being yet another instance of the agency being forced to make a U-turn on the basis of legal opinion of one the Government’s seniormost law officers.

Early this month, the CBI asked the Supreme Court’s permission to withdraw its earlier application to register a corruption case against Yadav and his relatives.

It told the court: “After the filing of the application there have been further developments. Representations were received from the respondents and legal advice was sought. In view of the legal advice and directions of the Union of India, the interlocutory application filed by CBI may be allowed to be withdrawn.”

Compare that with its affidavit on October 26, 2007 where the CBI had said that it had completed the preliminary enquiry to ascertain whether the Yadav family owned assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.

The CBI had then said that it would file a regular case if verifications/enquires indicated commission of offence.

Surprisingly, CBI’s latest affidavit seeking withdrawal of the case makes no mention of its verifications or enquiries.

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