FIR hurdle in Taj corridor probe
New Delhi: The CBI is finding it difficult to probe the assets of four Uttar Pradesh and central government officials allegedly involved in the Taj heritage corridor scam in the absence of an FIR, reports our special correspondent.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court had directed the bureau to submit a report on the assets of the tainted officials, whom it did not name. The two-member bench, comprising Justices M.B. Shah and A.R. Lakshmanan, asked the CBI to hand over the report in a week.
But additional solicitor-general Altaf Ahmed had responded by saying the bureau needed more powers to investigate the scam, hinting at the obstacles being placed in its way.
Only after the bureau, which has already submitted two reports to the Supreme Court, files an FIR will it have the power to question, detain and arrest suspected officials over their role in the Rs 175-crore scam.
The Taj project was allegedly cleared by the Mayavati government in “undue haste” and without statutory sanctions. A legal expert commented that no official would cooperate in investigations upon realising that no formal case has been registered as yet.
Ordinarily, the CBI can probe corruption cases when a court directs it or the state government refers the matter to them. But in the Taj scam, it has not been asked to file an FIR, thus hampering its investigations.
Neither the Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav nor his predecessor Mayavati has shown inclination to raise the matter in court.
The tainted officers face charges of committing criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, abuse of official position and prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Over 30 people, including Mayavati, former environment minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui, former chief secretary D.S. Bagga, environment secretary R.K. Sharma and former Union environment secretary K.C. Mishra, have been questioned till now.
Mishra, accused of tampering with files to cover up his omissions, and state finance secretary . Vajpayee were relieved of their charge yesterday.
Mulayam Singh removed Bagga and shunted out state principal secretary Panna Lal Punia within days of succeeding Mayavati.
The CBI has found that the tainted officials committed more than 15 illegalities, including illegal tendering and releasing of Rs 17 crore to the National Project Construction Corporation without any formal agreement being signed. The public sector undertaking, which sub-contracted the project to a private company, claimed to have invested more than Rs 50 crore in the project.
Court recalls sacked worker
Jodhpur (PTI): A worker dismissed from service 32 years ago on charges of irregularities has been reinstated by a labour court here.
The court on Friday ordered Khadi Gramodhyog Parishad in Jaisalmer to reinstate Manohar Lal Purohit, who was dismissed from service on May 24, 1971 on charges of irregularities. A criminal case had been lodged against Purohit after his dismissal.
Lucknow (PTI): Former Uttar Pradesh minister Amarmani Tripathi was again grilled by the CBI team probing poet Madhumita Shukla’s murder. Sources said Tripathi was summoned to the CBI office at Indira Nagar on Friday and quizzed for over five hours. The sleuths had earlier interrogated Tripathi in New Delhi.
Kathmandu (PTI): Two Indian nationals were arrested at the international airport here for allegedly carrying illegal Indian currency amounting to over Rs 3.5 lakh. Twenty-six Rs 1,000 notes and 658 Rs 500 notes were seized from the duo, an officer said. It is illegal to carry Indian currency of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations in Nepal.
Vancouver (Reuters): Canadian prosecutors have accused a key witness in the Air-India bombing trial of lying to protect Sikh separatists charged with the killing of 331 people in 1985. They said Inderjit Singh Reyat lied because he was sympathetic to the defendants’ religious cause. They sought permission to attack Reyat’s claim that he was unaware of the plot.
Mumbai (PTI): Kavita Gadgil, who formed an air safety foundation in her son’s memory, will meet defence minister George Fernandes in New Delhi on September 15 to discuss safety steps for pilots flying fighter aircrafts. She said she would meet Fernandes at noon. Gadgil formed Abhijit Air Safety Foundation after her son was killed in a MiG crash two years ago.
Srinagar (PTI): A manuscript of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb on the Quran has gone missing from Sri Pratap Museum here.
Hollywood film distributor Warner Brothers has said it will “wait and watch” before expanding its horizons in Bollywood. The firm has made its maiden entry into Bollywood as official distributors of the latest flick Chupke Se.