Govt In­sists No Deal With Fugi­tive Brit Biz­man Michel

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Manu.Pubby@ times­group.com

New Delhi: In its strong­est state­ment yet on the VVIP chop­per scam, the gov­ern­ment has taken on those, it says, are “sid­ing with a wanted crim­i­nal” and em­pha­sised there is no ques­tion of PM Naren­dra Modi “cut­ting a deal” with Italy to tar­get the Op­po­si­tion.

Re­spond­ing to re­ports that ac­cused mid­dle­man Chris­tian Michel made an of­fer to share in­for­ma­tion that was not taken up by PM Modi, the gov­ern­ment said, “Some have even tried to side with a wanted crim­i­nal”.

“It is well known that any un­der­stand­ing/agree­ment with an ac­cused out­side the frame of law is a crim­i­nal act in it­self. James Chris­tian Michel is a crim­i­nal wanted by the In­dian law en­force­ment agen­cies. We are pur­su­ing all le­gal means to ar­rest him and have him ex­tra­dited to In­dia. Michel should sub­mit him­self to the In­dian le­gal sys­tem rather than make el­lip­ti­cal ref­er­ences to of­fers that are sus­pect in in­tent and re­al­ity. We are de­ter­mined that the law must take its course against Michel and his as­so­ciates,” the gov­ern­ment said in a re­lease, show­ing its re­solve to nab Michel, who is al­leged to have got the larger slice of funds ear­marked for kick­backs for the deal. Com­ing down hard on the Op­po­si­tion for rais­ing ques­tions on the blacklisting of Agusta and al­leged ‘le­nien­cies’ given, the state­ment said the “undis­puted cen­tral is­sue that stands out is cor­rup­tion, es­pe­cially bribery”.

Hold­ing that any other ef­fort is an at­tempt to “hide the wrong­do­ers”, the gov­ern­ment said one of its pri­mary goals was to fight cor­rup­tion. “They ques­tion the speed of the gov­ern­ment pro­cesses, es­pe­cially the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. But they do not ask how the cor­rupt in­flu­enced the process of ac­qui­si­tion in the first place and bled the na­tion. They do not ad­mit cor­rup­tion; they in­stead boldly pro­claim, ‘catch us if you can’,” said the highly po­lit­i­cal state­ment.

Slam­ming the Op­po­si­tion for rais­ing ques­tions on al­leged ‘le­nien­cies’ to Agusta, it said the cen­tral is­sue was “cor­rup­tion”

How­ever, it noted that the courts con­cerned shall de­cide the cases on the ba­sis of ev­i­dence on record and in ac­cor­dance with law, un­de­terred by the ob­ser­va­tions or find­ings made by the high court in this judg­ment. The or­der was de­liv­ered in an open court by a bench of Jus­tices RV More and RG Ketkar on a bunch of pe­ti­tions filed by Adarsh So­ci­ety chal­leng­ing the demolition or­der of the MoEF and a ti­tle suit filed by the de­fence min­istry claim­ing that it owned the land on which the build­ing was con­structed. The court asked the Cen­tre and state gov­ern­ment to con­sider tak­ing de­part­men­tal pro­ceed­ings in ac­cor­dance with law against bu­reau­crats.

“The dis­ci­plinary au­thor­ity shall take de­ci­sion in ac­cor­dance with law with­out be­ing in­flu­enced by the find­ings of the high court,” said the bench.

The bench placed on record its ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the com­plainant Sim­preet Singh, a mem­ber of Na­tional Al­liance of Peo­ple’s Move­ment. “But for this in­ter­ven­tion, per­haps the gross vi­o­la­tion by the pe­ti­tion­ers (Adarsh So­ci­ety) would not have been de­tected,” said the judges. The court also asked the Adarsh So­ci­ety to pay .₹ 1 lakh as cost to each of the six re­spon­dents, in­clud­ing Bharat Bhushan, di­rec­tor of min­istry of en­vi­ron­ment and forests; Nalini Bhat, ad­vi­sor and competent au­thor­ity, MoEF; Si­taram Kunte, for­mer com­mis­sioner of Bri­han­mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion (BMC) and three oth­ers. The Adarsh hous­ing scam kicked up a po­lit­i­cal storm in 2010 forc­ing the then chief min­is­ter Ashok Cha­van of the Congress to re­sign af­ter com­ing un­der its cloud. The hous­ing project, stand­ing on prime land in Mum­bai, was meant for the wel­fare of war vet­er­ans and war wid­ows. But sev­eral in­flu­en­tial politi­cians and top bu­reau­crats al­legedly sub­verted the rules for their own ben­e­fit or that of their close rel­a­tives to take ad­van­tage of the scheme. Act­ing ad­vo­cate gen­eral of Ma­ha­rash­tra, Ro­hit Dev, on be­half of the state gov­ern­ment, told the court that he was op­pos­ing the stay sought by the pe­ti­tioner (Adarsh So­ci­ety) to file an ap­peal in the Supreme Court.

Adarsh So­ci­ety had filed a pe­ti­tion in 2011 in the Bom­bay High Court chal­leng­ing the demolition or­der is­sued by the Union min­istry of en­vi­ron­ment and forests.

Se­nior coun­sel Navroz Seer­vai, ap­pear­ing for Adarsh So­ci­ety, high­lighted is­sues, start­ing from the devel­op­ment plan for the city pre­pared in 1967, to ar­gue his case that there were no vi­o­la­tions ei­ther of the rules or Coastal Reg­u­la­tion Zone. The de­fence min­istry also filed a pe­ti­tion in the high court seek­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of its demolition or­der, be­sides fil­ing a ti­tle suit claim­ing it was the owner of the plot. Adarsh so­ci­ety has been em­broiled in a con­tro­versy for flout­ing sev­eral en­vi­ron­ment norms and reg­u­la­tions and for al­legedly not tak­ing the req­ui­site per­mis­sions.

In Jan­uary 2011, the union min­istry of en­vi­ron­ment and for­est had is­sued a demolition or­der mainly on the ground that the so­ci­ety did not have Coastal Zone Reg­u­la­tion (CRZ) clear­ance.

The build­ing re­mains un­oc­cu­pied and with­out elec­tric­ity and water sup­ply. The bench of jus­tices R V More and R G Ketkar had in Septem­ber 2015 started fi­nal hear­ing of pe­ti­tions in­clud­ing one filed by the Adarsh so­ci­ety chal­leng­ing demolition or­der passed by Union Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment and For­est and a pe­ti­tion filed by the Min­istry of De­fence seek­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of the demolition or­der. In De­cem­ber 2015, the High Court bench had re­served or­der af­ter hear­ing all the par­ties. The judge­ment was de­liv­ered to­day.

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