Woman moves SC to quash DA case citing husband’s death

A widow on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking to set aside proceedings against her in a disproportionate assets case citing that her husband, the main accused in the case, had died and that she can not defend herself in his absence.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the Odisha goverment to explain whether the trial can continue independently against a housewife notwithstanding the fact that her husband, who was accused of acquiring
disproportionate assets, died and the case against him has abated.

The court was hearing a petition filed by a widow Arati Sahoo challenging the Odisha High Court order dismissing her plea seeking to drop disproportionate assets case against her.

The woman said the case cannot be continued against her, in view of the death of her husband.

Arati Sahoo is facing trial in a Cuttack court under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 109 (abetment) of the IPC.

She has been named as co-accused in the case in which her husband, who was a public servant, was chargesheeted for criminal misconduct for possessing disproportionate assets.

Sahoo said that most of the properties stood in her name, but she is not a public servant and she is not an income tax assessee.

Sahoo told the court that her husband, who was a public servant, died on June 12, 2017.

The proceedings against her husband were abated on August 28, 2017.

Citing her husband’s death, the petitioner said the case against her is not maintainable and that the trial against her will be a futile exercise.

Sahoo’s advocate Shibashish Misra said that the Odisha High Court has failed to appreciate that the charges levelled against the widow can be established only when the husband, who is the principal accused, fails to account for the disproportionate assets.

An offence can be made out only when the offence is established in the court, the petitioner said.

“The Odisha High Court while coming to the aforesaid finding failed to appreciate that whether a charge under Section 13(1)(e) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 can be fastened against the petitioner, especially when the petitioner is a housewife and is facing such charges on account of her husband who is the principal accused in the case,” the plea said.

Sahoo told the top court that the High Court ignored the submission of the petitioner that she could not have been charged under any provision of Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 inasmuch as the provision is confined only to public servants.

The petitioner is a housewife and has been roped in under Section 13(1)(e) of the Act of 1988 as an abettor.



CAB moves SC in sexual harassment case against BCCI CEO

The Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) has moved the Supreme Court against the CEO of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in an alleged sexual harassment case.

CAB Secretary Aditya Verma through his advocate Jagnath Singh informed a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Friday regarding the charges against BCCI CEO Rahul Johri.

“The Supreme Court has asked us to place this matter before the bench already hearing the BCCI matters,” Verma told IANS.

He also said that media reports were not correct to state that the apex court has refused to hear the petition regarding the alleged sexual harassment against Johri.

A report was carried on IANS on May 2 stating “The Supreme Court on Thursday refused any special hearing in the sexual harassment case against the BCCI CEO Rahul Johri”.

Verma said no hearing on the case was scheduled on May 2.

“BCCI’s senior advocate was asked by the apex court to look into the matter…. The CJI said because it is part of BCCI, the institution is required to see how the matter is going. As per causelist, the matter is listed on May 6,” Verma added.

A bench comprising of Justices S.A. Bobde and A.M. Sapre is looking into the BCCI matter.

Rashmi Nair, who claims to be a women issue activist, had filed the petition in the apex court and had insisted that there was every reason for BCCI Ombudsman D.K. Jain to revisit the case against Johri.

“Johri had a very colourful past in each and every organisation where he worked and he managed to get away with all allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by threat, coercion or greed,” the petition had said.

The petitioner also sought to know why the recently appointed ombudsman was not being handed the matter for investigation. Nair in her petition cited about three women who had raised the issue.
In the report of the independent inquiry by the committee, while Rakesh Sharma and Barkha Singh gave Johri a clean chit, Gowda had said that ‘the conduct of Rahul Johri at Birmingham, as a CEO of an institution such as BCCI is unprofessional and inappropriate which would adversely affect its reputation and the same has to be looked at by the concerned authorities’.

Johri had gone to the UK during the 2017 Champions Trophy.

A senior BCCI official had questioned the virtuousness of the Independent Committee itself as one of the members — Barkha Singh — was already a chairperson of Delhi and District Cricket Association’s (DDCA) internal complaints committee when appointed in the panel to look into allegations against Johri.

After the conclusion of the inquiry, the committee submitted its report to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) and that was published on the BCCI’s website.

It read: “Since there is no consensus between the two members of the CoA regarding what action should be taken against Rahul Johri, the chairman stated that the natural consequence would be that Johri continues as the CEO of BCCI and is entitled to resume office.

“Diana Edulji (of the CoA) disagreed with this. However, the chairman reiterated that Rahul Johri should continue as the CEO of BCCI and resume his duties as a natural consequence.”



Congress moves EC against PM’s May 6 rally in MP

The Congress on Wednesday petitioned the Election Commission (EC) seeking its direction against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election rally to be held in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, on May 6.

According to the Congress memorandum, on the same day (May 6), the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections will take place in the Damoh parliamentary constituency, which is just 10 km from the venue of the Prime Minister’s rally. This could affect the polling, the Congress said.

“We would like to point out that on May 6 polling would be underway in the town/village of Dhana, Sagar (where the airstrip for Sagar is located), not even 10 km from the site of the PM’s rally. The peculiar problem is that three Tehsils and Vidhan Sabha constituencies of Sagar district like Banda, Rehli and Deori form part of the Damoh parliamentary constituency,” said the Congress memorandum.

“The PM will be conducting his election rally seeking votes for the Bharatiya Janata Party at Kajlivan Ground in Sagar between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on May 6 during the entire duration of the voting taking place merely 10 km away from the site of the rally.

“The rally has a very high potential of materially affecting the results of the elections being organised on the same day at a neighbouring constituency in the same district,” the Congress said.

The Madhya Pradesh Congress unit has already brought the matter to the notice of the Chief Election Commissioner of the state on April 30, the Congress said.

The party further said that the Prime Minister being an SPG protectee would also require the deployment of a large number of administrative personnel, including the police force, and this may affect the polling.



Congress moves SC over EC inaction against Modi, Shah

The Congress on Monday moved the Supreme Court against the Election Commission for alleged inaction on complaints against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.

The Congress claimed that the two leaders have used military operations as propaganda during the election campaign but the poll panel did not act against them despite various complaints.



Rights body moves government on JKLF chief’s detention

The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Wednesday issued notices to the Jammu and Kashmir government on the detention of JKLF Chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Following a petition filed before the SHRC by human rights activist Ahsan Untoo, the SHRC issued the notice to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police asking them to submit a detailed compliance report regarding Malik’s detention.

The petition said that the shifting of Malik’s custody by the state government to the NIA was illegal.

The notice was issued by SHRC Chairman Justice (Retired) Bilal Nazki.

The petitioner said that Malik was not able to even speak when his lawyer met him on April 20 in a hospital in Delhi.

“This has created serious apprehension about the well being of Malik who is a political leader,” the petitioner said.

Malik was detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) by the state government and he was lodged in Kot Balwal Jail in Jammu city.

The NIA shifted him to Delhi on April 10 in connection with a terror funding case being investigated by the agency. He was lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

A court in Delhi on Wednesday sent Malik to judicial custody till May 24.

The NIA had moved an application in the court to produce Malik through video conference because of security reasons.



Ayodhya; Nirmohi Akhara moves SC against land release

Nirmohi Akhara, one of the parties that got one-third of the disputed land in Ayodhya title dispute, moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday opposing the Centre’s plea to release majority of the 67.7 acre of acquired land in favour of Ramjanamboomi Nyayas.

The apex court’s ordered mediation is already in process.

The akhara said the acquisition of land by the government had led to destruction of various temples managed by it. Therefore, the court should decide the title dispute, it added.



Lawyer Gautam Khaitan moves bail in black money case

Lawyer Gautam Khaitan on Tuesday moved his bail plea in a Delhi court in a money laundering and black money case.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar sought the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) response on Khaitan’s plea and listed the matter for further hearing on April 9.

It is the second bail moved by Khaitan. On March 12, the court rejected Khaitan’s bail plea.

Currently in judicial custody, Khaitan was arrested on January 25, a week after the Income Tax department searched his offices and other properties in Delhi and the National Capital Region.

On March 25, the ED filed a chargesheet in the money laundering case.

The agency said Khaitan was “controlling” the modus operandi and was responsible for routing money, misusing his connections and clients, including the ones inherited from his father, to launder money through a variety of accounts in Dubai, Mauritius, Singapore, Tunisia, Switzerland, the UK and India.

The ED officials said that the accounts included those belonging to his undisclosed shell companies outside India.

The ED had filed a money laundering case against Khaitan and others based on a case lodged by the Income Tax Department under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act.

Khaitan was earlier arrested in September 2014 for his alleged involvement in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

He got bail in January 2015 but was again arrested along with Sanjeev Tyagi, another accused in the case, on December 9, 2016, by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He later secured bail.

The CBI chargesheet had described Khaitan as the brain behind the AgustaWestland deal.



Congress moves EC against Namo TV, ‘misuse’ of DD News

The Congress on Monday moved the Election Commission seeking strictures against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP for using the government-owned news channel for their election campaign and for using channel “Namo TV” as “a political tool” when the Model Code of Conduct was in force.

The party gave three different memoranda to the poll panel – against Namo TV for “illegal telecast of BJP propaganda”, against Modi using government-owned news channels (DD News) for election campaign and for removal of tainted election officers in Jharkhand.

The memorandum on “Prime Minister’s personal television channel ‘Namo TV'” called upon the Election Commission to issue “urgent and necessary directions” to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and DTH service providers to take urgent action against the channel”

It also called for “strictures/censure” against Modi and BJP for “using the channel as political tool” when the poll code was in effect.

The second memorandum on “Doordarshan broadcast” sought “urgent and necessary directions” to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Prasar Bharti (DD News).
It called for “strictures/censure” against Modi and BJP for using the news channel “as a tool to promote and advertise their election campaign”.

Citing the “Main bhi Chowkidar” programme telecast live on DD News on Sunday evening, where Modi addressed and interacted with people, it said the sole reason for the programme, also broadcast on the Youtube channel of the broadcaster, was to promote personal achievements of Modi.

The third memorandum called for urgent directions to the Chief Electoral Officer in Jharkhand for “immediate suspension or transfer of election officers/agents with pending criminal cases and complaints of serious nature”.



Congress moves EC over release of Narendra Modi biopic

The Congress on Monday moved the Election Commission urging it to not allow the release of the “PM Narendra Modi” biopic, saying that its purpose was “political” to get extra mileage in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Briefing reporters here, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the party told the poll panel that a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to be released on April 5, just a few days before the Lok Sabha polls, and its purpose “was only political to get some extra mileage in the elections.”

“We believe it is not just a corrupt practice, but the very launch of the film is motivated. Three of the producers belong to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The actor Vivek Oberoi too is of the BJP,” he said.

Vivek Oberoi plays Narendra Modi in the film.

Sibal said the whole purpose was to gain political advantage which was in violation of all the norms.

“This is no artistic venture, it is a political venture. And that’s what we have told the Election Commission. It should not be allowed. It does not allow for a level-playing field. It violates the spirit of Article 324 of the Constitution. It violates the cable network rules. It also violates Section 126 of the Representation of Peoples Act,” Sibal said.

The Congress leader said the party told the poll panel that “this was a kind of political propaganda which must be regulated.”

“Otherwise it will violate all the norms of fair play. All political parties must have a level-playing field. The last thing we have requested the commission to do is to give us a reasoned order so that we know the reasons why our representation is either accepted or rejected,” Sibal said.

Answering a query, he said the poll panel has told them that it will take into account everything and pass a reasoned order.



Congress moves Election Commission against Goa government order

In a complaint to the Election Commission of India on Saturday, the Goa Congress has demanded that the poll authority should strike down a state government order, which appoints two key coalition leaders as deputy Chief Ministers.

“The order is a clear violation of the Model Code of Conduct and as such this order should be immediately set aside by the EC and strict and stringent action should be taken against the concerned officer and the government of Goa,” Congress’s head of the communications department for Goa, Trajano D’Mello, said in his complaint to the top poll authority in New Delhi.

On March 20, days after BJP leader Pramod Sawant was sworn-in as Chief Minister, the State government issued an order appointing Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward Party and Sudin Dhavalikar of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party as deputy CMs.

With three MLAs each, the Goa Forward as well as the MGP provide crucial support to the BJP-led coalition, without whose numbers the government is likely to be in a minority.

Addressing a press conference at the state Congress headquarters here, D’Mello said that the appointment of the two deputy Chief Ministers was to gain political capital by the BJP, in view of the upcoming elections to the Lok Sabha and the three by-polls in the coastal state.

“These appointments were done at a time when the Model Code of Conduct was already announced and keeping the Lok Sabha elections and the by-polls in mind,” D’Mello said.

“With coming into force of the Model Code of Conduct of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and for the by-polls of the legislative assembly in the state, it is incumbent upon the government not to declare any decision which will influence the votes in favour of the party in power,” the Congress leader said.

“It is done solely for the purpose of attracting votes,” D’Mello added.


India World

Punjab National Bank fraud; Choksi cites risk to life, moves court

One of the key accused in the PNB fraud case, Mehul Choksi, on Friday moved a fresh application in a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai seeking cancellation of a non-bailable warrant against him.

His application came three days after his nephew Nirav Modi, another key accused in the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank loan default case, was arrested in London.

In his application, Choksi, who had fled India in January 2018 months before the scam surfaced, has cited ailment and risk to his life. Choksi’s lawyer Sanjay Abbot in the application said the jeweller has a long history of heart ailments and a blood clot in the brain.

He also mentioned in the application about Choksi’s apprehension over his safety.

On May 22, 2018, after taking cognisance of the second chargesheet filed in the PNB case by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the special court had issued the non-bailable warrant against Choksi, owner of Gitanjali Group.

His move comes two days after the investigation agencies said that Choksi’s extradition process has begun in Antigua where he has taken citizenship.

The court has adjourned the matter for April 9 for arguments.

Choksi’s counsel submitted his detailed medical history citing his ailments constraining him from travelling and hence leading to his inability to return to India.

His counsel also placed 38 documents on record, including a latest prescriptions in which doctors recommend that Choksi should remain under continuous medical supervision in Antigua and should avoid travelling as his medical condition may deteriorate.

Choksi, along with his nephew and diamantaire Nirav Modi are accused of colluding with bankers to secure credit from overseas banks using fraudulent guarantees. Both have denied the allegations and have moved abroad.

Nirav Modi was taken into custody in London on March 19.

However, Choksi had secured a passport from Antigua and Barbuda, where wealthy foreigners can become citizens in exchange for investing in the country. He was granted citizenship on January 15, 2018.

He then deposited his cancelled Indian Passport No. Z3396732 and a mandatory fee of $177 for other formalities.



Nawaz moves SC against High Court’s decision rejecting bail

Pakistan former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday petitioned the Supreme Court against a decision by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) rejecting him bail in a corruption case.

Sharif was on December 24 sentenced to seven years in prison by an anti-corruption court in Al-Azizia Steel Mills case for owning a steel factory abroad without disclosing its ownership.

On February 25, the IHC dismissed the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader’s plea seeking bail and suspension of his sentence on medical grounds.

A petition filed by Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris on Friday sought that the IHC decision be declared null and void.

The anti-corruption court judge had last year imposed hefty fines on Sharif after ruling that Al-Azizia Steel Mills — a Saudi Arabian firm carrying the name of his son — belonged to the three-time Premier and that he was unable to demonstrate how the project was funded.



Christian Michel moves bail plea in Delhi court on Friday

British national Christian Michel, the middleman accused in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, on Friday moved his bail plea in a Delhi court.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar, asking the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to file response on his bail plea, listed the matter for next hearing on February 12.

Michel has sought bail saying he has been in custody from December 4 2018, and in terms of Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal procedure, the probe was supposed to be completed by February 3.

However, the charge sheet was not filed against him within the stipulated 60-day period, so he should be released on bail, the defence counsel told the court.

Michel was extradited to India on December 4 from the United Arab Emiratesm (UAE). He is one of the three middlemen being investigated by the CBI and the ED in the VVIP chopper deal.

ED arrested him on December 22, 2018.

In January 2018, the ED had lodged a request with the UAE authorities seeking extradition of Michel. Both the ED and the CBI had filed charge sheets in bribery cases in Indian courts and non-bailable warrants had been issued against the accused.

In its charge sheet, the CBI had named former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie, then IAF Vice Chief J.S. Gujral and advocate Gautam Khaitan as the four Indians involved in the scam.

Others named in the charge sheet included Giuseppe Orsi, the former chief of Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, former CEO of AgustaWestland, apart from middlemen Michel, Haschke and Gerosa.

Christian Michel moves bail plea in Delhi court



Robert Vadra moves anticipatory bail plea in money laundering case

Robert Vadra on Friday moved anticipatory bail plea in a Delhi Court in connection with a money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The bail plea will be heard by a special judge on Saturday.

The case relates to ownership of undisclosed assets abroad worth 1.9 million pounds allegedly belonging to Vadra, brother-in-law of Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

The ED lodged a money laundering case against Vadra’s close aide Manoj Arora after his role surfaced during the probe of another case by the Income Tax Department under the new Black Money Act and tax law against absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.

It said the London-based property was bought by Bhandari and sold in 2010 for the same amount despite incurring additional expenses on its renovation.

On December 7, as part of its investigation, the ED conducted searches at a number of premises in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru.



Anti-black money moves brought Rs 1.3 lakh cr income to tax; Goyal

Presenting the Interim Budget 2019-20, Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said the measures taken against black money by the Centre since 2014 have brought income of Rs 1,30,000 crore to tax.

Asserting the Modi government’s commitment to eliminate black money from the economy, he said measures like Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 and demonetisation were taken that have started showing results.

“The measures taken by the government in the last four and a half years have also led to seizure and attachment of assets worth about Rs 50,000 crore.

“During this period, benami assets worth Rs 6,900 crore and foreign assets worth Rs 1,600 crore have also been attached,” Goyal said.

“As many as 3,38,000 shell companies have been detected and deregistered and their directors have been disqualified,” he added.

Further, Goyal said the direct tax collections went up by 18 per cent in 2017-18 and the tax base expanded by 1.06 crore with more than one crore filing tax returns in the financial year 2017-18.

Anti-black money moves brought Rs 1.3 lakh cr income to tax: Goyal