Bench lists allotment of iron ore mines to Tata Steel; favours to RIL

The Supreme Court has ordered a CBI probe into 14 issues relating to criminal dimensions of the conversations of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with industrialists and others.

Passing orders on the writ petition filed by Ratan Tata on Thursday, a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and V. Gopala Gowda identified the issues after scrutinising the reports of an expert committee set up by the Income Tax department to analyse the conversations.

The eight issues raised in the first report are: supply of low-floor buses by Tata Motors to the Government of Tamil Nadu under the Centre’s JNNURM scheme; appointment of Pradip Baijal, former chief of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, as chairman of the Pipeline Advisory Committee; allotment of coal blocks to the Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) run by the Anil Ambani (ADAG) Group; allotment of iron ore mines at Ankua, in Jharkhand’s Singhbhum district to Tata Steel; favours shown by V.K. Sibal, then Director-General of Hydrocarbons, to RIL (Reliance Industries Limited) and quid pro quo received; fudging of numbers in the subscriber base/records by Reliance Communications, ADAG and submission of the same to the Bombay Stock Exchange and TRAI to save money; working of touts and middlemen and kickbacks in the aviation sector; matters relating to corruption/malpractice in the judiciary/judges/tribunals etc, and Issue No. 14: market manipulation and hammering of stocks of Unitech.

Writing the order, Justice Singhvi said: “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 conversations between Ms. Niira Radia and her associates with various persons suggest that unscrupulous elements have used corrupt means to secure favours from the government officers, who appear to have acted on extraneous considerations. Therefore, we are convinced that it would be appropriate to direct an inquiry by the CBI in respect of these issues as well. Accordingly, we direct [the] CBI to make inquiry in terms of Chapter 9 of the CBI Manual in respect of the subjects mentioned in issue Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 14 and positively submit a report within two months.”

As regards issue No. 9 (allotment of an iron ore mine to the Reliance ADAG group without a prerequisite steel plant), the Bench directed that it be referred to the Chief Vigilance Officer, Ministry of Mines.

As regards (issue no 8) corruption/malpractice in the Judiciary/Judges/Tribunals etc “a report based on detailed conversations which are the subject matter of issue No. 8 be referred to the Chief Justice of India for consideration and appropriate action.”

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