Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: Nira Radia Tapes

2G accused and bail

There is a campaign in the media that 2G accused should get bail. I see a lobbyist behind it.

Radia tapes revealed a lobbyist connected to politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists and journalists. In an Anil Ambani versus Mukesh Ambani case when the judgment went in favour of Anil Ambani she asked Vir Sanghvi to write an article attacking the judge. Barkha Dutt was ready to do her bidding.

The campaign began with Jaswant Singh appearing on CNN-IBN and saying the 2G accused should get bail. TV discussions followed. Ex-CJI Vishwanath Khare and Ex-SG Harish Salve sent unsolicited legal opinions to CBI. On 6/7/2011 the Supreme Court told CBI lawyer K. K. Venugopal “Don’t take these legal opinions into consideration. You reject them outright.”

The issue was discussed on the Big Fight on NDTV 24×7 on 9/7/2011. Jaswant Singh said the 2G accused should get bail and spoke of the tyranny of police officers who put people in jail without procedure. As expected DMK’s TKS Elangovan and Mukul Rohatgi, a lawyer for an accused, wanted the 2G accused to get bail. Tavleen Singh who has written against politicians for many years wanted bail for the 2G accused.

Jaswant Singh is a BJP member and spoke in his individual capacity. DMK is not an ally of BJP. Previously he did not talk about the tyranny people suffer.

Mukul Rohatgi talked about lynch mob and media hysteria. If people want the corrupt punished they do not become lynch mob. If media reports events, that is not hysteria. If people who thought themselves powerful enough not to be in jail could not get bail because of the gravity of the charges judges refused them bail they should not blame people and media. If the chargesheet is 80,000 pages long and the supplementary chargesheet is 25,000 pages long don’t blame CBI and prosecutor but blame the partners in crime. He asked what happens if someone is acquitted after some years in jail. Who will compensate for it? If someone is acquitted it does not mean he/she was not guilty. It may be the prosecution failed to prove the case or judge declared not guilty due to corruption or some other reason. In Priyadarshini Matto case in lower court the judge told the criminal I know you have committed the crime but I let you off.

Tavleen Singh talked of governance coming to a standstill because ministers and bureaucrats are afraid to take decisions due to 2G accused not getting bail. She said 70% prisoners are undertrials without bail and blamed judges for delay in judgments and said it would take 300 years to clear the backlog. It is not governance that has come to a standstill but corruption. If a minister is afraid to award a contract because asking for 15% commission may put him in jail so be it. Judges are to be blamed for condoning delaying in filing appeals and admitting appeals long after the appeal period has expired and granting adjournments that prolong the cases. However criminals who do not plead guilty and lawyers who defend criminals are also to be blamed for delay in judgments.

Tavleen Singh said the accused can influence witnesses from jail also. A. A. Khan countered it saying if the accused are in jail witnesses are not in awe of them. They think if the accused are in jail they are not powerful.

The demand for bail for 2G accused is not about justice and fair play. It is not about employees of telecom companies who are in jail. It is not even about A. Raja. It is about Kanimozhi. Since Kanimozhi could not get bail the campaign started. I suppose the lobbyist tried to influence judges but did not succeed. As in Ambani case the judges are targeted. Jaswant Singh and Tavleen Singh cannot convince people about bail for 2G accused. It made sense for the lobbyist to Jaswant Singh to speak about bail because any UPA MP speaking that would not have carried conviction and would have been brushed aside as defending a colleague. It is another matter that Jaswant Singh is also not effective. People found Tavleen Singh on government side when she participated in a debate on Lokpal Bill on Headlines Today. If Jaswant Singh and Tavleen Singh want to lose their credibility it is their choice.

BJP has demanded resignation of P. Chidambaram for his role in 2G scam and wants him in jail alongside A. Raja. There is a controversy about the shareholding pattern of loop as corporate affairs ministry claimed clerical error. Kapil Sibal is accused of reducing fine on Reliance from 650 crore rupees to five crore rupees.

JPC on 2G scam functions in secrecy. Its members publicly say they cannot give details of meetings or answer some questions but privately they leak information to TV channels and newspapers. JPC proceedings should be televised live. The country has a right to know what happens there.

Tapes, spy and lobbyist

Now we know Home Secretary of India authorised tapping of Nira Radia’s telephones as she was said to be a spy for a foreign intelligence agency who built a business empire of 300 crore rupees in nine years.

Nira Radia tapes have revealed interesting conversations. Kamal Nath gets 15% of contracts. Praful Patel destroyed the aviation sector. First he worked as minister for Naresh Goyal, then for Vijay Mallya. Murli Deora works for Mukesh Ambani.

Which foreign intelligence agency had employed Nira Radia? Was it CIA, MI6, FSB, Mossad, ISI, SDECE or some other agency? Why was she not arrested?

If Nira Radia built a business empire of 300 crore rupees why did she continue lobbying for others? She could have expanded her business empire.

Did Tarun Das and Nira Radia “educate” Anand Sharma?

Did the tapping reveal anything about tax evasion?

This is the season of leaks. After Wikileaks there is Openleaks. Some call Radia tape leaks Chikileaks meaning Chidambaram is behind the leaks.

There are other lobbyists. Are their phones tapped?

It seems nothing significant was discovered about Nira Radia and if something was found out the officials took bribes and kept quiet.

What about phones of industrialists like Mukesh Ambani, L. N. Mittal, Anil Ambani, Azim Premji, Anil Agarwal, Sunil Mittal, Shashi Ruia, Vijay Mallya and Subrata Roy? Did the Income Tax Department suspect them of tax evasion and tap their phones?

Government has the power to phone taps legally but illegal phone tapping by government officials can take place. Private detective agencies can do illegal phone tapping.

Home Ministry must clarify whether Nira Radia spied or not and whether anything regarding tax evasion was found.

On 15/12/2010 there were CBI raids on residences and offices of Nira Radia and many others. Headlines Today reported that an ex-employee complained to finance ministry Nira Radia being a spy and doing something anti-national. Chidambaram passed on the letter to Director General of Investigations, Income Tax Department, and tapping began. Why was RAW not informed?

There is speculation about what DMK will do. Some say it is unhappy about raids. Others say they knew about raids. Some talk about DMK withdrawing support to Congress and mid-term elections. If DMK offers support to BJP they will jump at the opportunity and A. Raja can be deputy prime minister.

Many CBI raids take place. Convictions are rare. At one time CBI raided Madhu Koda’s properties. The amount of scam was said to be 4,000 crore rupees. After some months it came down to 400 crore rupees. Then it was forgotten. Ramalinga Raju’s case is a fiasco.

Nira Radia Tapes

On 23/11/2010 I read “Beware the single brush” by Pratap Bhanu Mehta in The Indian Express. The article had a sentence “Tapes of conversations between journalists and various lobbyists have been put online and some publications have carried stories on these conversations.”

I did not know who were the journalists or lobbyists.

On 26/11/2010 at 9.00 p.m. on NDTV 24×7 there was a clip of Walk the Talk. Shekhar Gupta interviews Ratan Tata who repeatedly uses the phrase banana republic. I did not understand what he meant.

At 10.00 p.m. I switched to Star World to watch Lie to me. It was an old episode. So I switched to NDTV 24×7 hoping to see Left, Right and Centre. There was the clip again.

I switched channels and came across CNN-IBN. I heard the names of Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi. It was Last Word of Karan Thapar. Panellists were Sanjay Baru, N. Ram, Dilip Cherian, and Joseph.

The discussion was about Nira Radia tapes. Telephonic conversations of Nira Radia, a lobbyist, with various journalists, industrialists and others had become public. Outlook and Open had published them.

During discussion the role of Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi was questioned. N. Ram said BBC and Financial Times would have fired journalists for such misconduct.

The TV news channels I watch had not reported about the content of tapes. Journalists usually do not report misdeeds of their own. Outlook and Open took on their own.

When industrialists lobby for someone to be minister and succeed that leaves a question mark on the behaviour of prime minister.

Some weeks back Ratan Tata made a statement that he had refused to pay 15 crore rupees as bribe to get his airline cleared. If he lobbied for a corrupt minister to be in the cabinet and that becomes public knowledge that does not make India a banana republic.

When any channel or newspaper is selective in exposing corruption it becomes partisan. NDTV is said to be pro-UPA. On 24/11/2010 Nidhi Razdan said we will continue to focus on Yeddyurappa. That is good but what about continued focus on corruption in Commonwealth Games?

Barkha Dutt’s reputation is in tatters. Vir Sanghvi had a question mark over him when a taped conversation published in Hindustan Times was said to be fake.

In one conversation someone tells Nira Radia he has arranged Arun Shourie to be replaced by Venkaiah Naidu to speak on budget proposals. Arun Shourie would have spoken against a proposal that favoured Mukesh Ambani. Arun Shourie confirmed a conversation about him. Arun Shourie confirmed a conversation about him. In a party meeting he had spoken against that proposal. He said he was to talk on budget proposals as BJP’s lead speaker and had prepared for a week. The day he was to speak he was told Venkaiah Naidu will speak. He said the voice of the person who spoke to Nira Radia was of N. K. Singh.

Nira Radia tapes can become significant like Watergate tapes which forced Richard Nixon out.

Some questions about Nira Radia tapes.

Income Tax Department tapped Nira Radia conversations. What was the purpose? Who authorised tapping?

If there was no evidence of tax evasion why tapping did not stop?

Why were the tapes handed over to CBI and Enforcement Directorate?

Why is Nira Radia questioned by Enforcement Directorate? What is her crime?

Who leaked the tapes? It is possible that many sections of media knew about the tapes and kept quiet.

It is said 5,831 conversations were recorded, most of them private. They have nothing to do with appointment of ministers, budget proposals and so on. Do people in Income Tax Department have nothing better to do than record private conversations, listen to them and distribute them?

Right to privacy is part of Right to life and liberty. What is the punishment for breach of privacy?

On 29/11/2010 Ratan Tata moved Supreme Court to stop the publication of tapes of his conversations with Nira Radia. Government ordered an investigation by Intelligence Bureau and Central Board of Direct Taxes into the leakage of tapes. Why investigation by two agencies?

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