Radia tapes: SC asks CBI to probe top corporates,tax officialshttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/print/radia-tapes-sc-asks-cbi-to-probe-top-corporates-tax-officials/

Radia tapes: SC asks CBI to probe top corporates,tax officials

CBI following the Supreme Court order in the Niira Radia tape case.

Allegations about favours done to top industrial groups,kickbacks paid in the aviation sector,irregularities in the supply of buses and allotment of mines,corruption in the judiciary and collusion of income tax officials are among a host of cases that will be probed by the CBI following the Supreme Court order in the Niira Radia tapes case.

The order was passed by a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and V Gopala Gowda on Thursday and published on the website of the apex court Saturday.

It said the CBI will register preliminary enquiries (PEs) and complete the probe within two months in as many as 14 of the 23 issuesflagged by the court-mandated special team.

The team had examined intercepted conversations of former corporate lobbyist Radia with several people,including industrialists and journalists,between 2008 and 2009.

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“The subjects mentioned in the eight issues are prima facie indicative of deep rooted malaise in the system of which advantage has been taken by private enterprises in collaboration/connivance with the government officers and others,” the court said.

“The conversations…suggest that unscrupulous elements have used corrupt means to secure favours from the government officers,who appear to have acted for extraneous considerations.”

The cases the CBI has been directed to investigate include:

*Allotment of coal blocks to Anil Ambani Group’s (ADAG) Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project.

*Alleged fudging of subscribers base/record by ADAG’s Reliance Communications and its submission to the Bombay Stock Exchange and TRAI to save money.

* Favours allegedly shown by V K Sibal,the then director general of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbon to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd.,and quid-pro-quo received.

*Supply of low-floor buses by Tata Motors to Tamil Nadu government under JNNURM scheme.

* Allotment of iron ore mines in Ankua in Singhbhum District of Jharkhand to Tata Steel.

*Appointment of Pradip Baijal,ex-chief of TRAI,as chairman of Pipeline Advisory Committee.

*Working of touts and middlemen and alleged payment of kickbacks in the aviation sector.

*Alleged market manipulation and hammering of stocks of Unitech.

The special team had suggested that some of these eight issues be investigated by state agencies but the court held the CBI should carry out the probe in view of the gravity of the cases.

Besides these eight issues raised by the team in its first status report,the court asked the CBI to probe six issues flagged in the second report relating to alleged criminal misconduct by public servants in respect of surveys and raids conducted by the income tax department,payment of illegal gratification to tax officials to get work done and conversations regarding allocation of spectrum.

While “matters relating to corruption/malpractice in judiciary/judges/tribunals etc” have been referred to the Chief Justice of India for “consideration and appropriate action,” the “allotment of iron ore mine to Reliance ADAG group without having any steel plant” has been sent to the Chief Vigilance Officer in the Ministry of Mines for “appropriate action.”

The bench has asked the CBI to constitute a special team to carry out the investigations and submit its probe report on the PEs within two months,i.e. by December 16. It has also directed that the transcription and examination of other tapped conversations,which were left out in the first round of scrutiny,should continue.

The Anil Ambani Group said it welcomed the court order.

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“We welcome the independent time-bound enquiries by the CBI,monitored by the Supreme Court,which will clearly establish our bona fides,and once and for all prove beyond doubt that we have been the unfortunate victims of a mischievous campaign of calumny and vilification conducted at the behest of our unscrupulous corporate rivals over the past five years,” the group said in a statement.