The good days for the Congress party seem to have come to an end as scamsters from the UPA regime are being brought to book by the NDA government. The NDA government appears in no mood to spare the culprits who have accumulated hefty amounts of public money and have been playing hide and seek with the authorities.
In a recent development, Delhi’s Patiala House Court sentenced 3 years of imprisonment to former Coal Secretary H C Gupta along with two others in Vikash Metal Power Limited coal block allocation case. Two other private persons have also been awarded 4 years of imprisonment in this.
Gupta was coal secretary for two years in the UPA regime before he retired in 2008. Along with this, Gupta is also facing trial in seven other cases of the coal scam. The court on November 30, convicted Gupta along with former joint secretary in Ministry of Coal K S Kropha and the then director (CA-I) in the ministry, KC Samria. Vikash Patni, managing director of Vikash Metals Power Limited and its authorized signatory Anand Mallick were also convicted in the case.
In June 2017, Gupta was sentenced imprisonment after being found guilty in the allocation of Madhya Pradesh based Thesgora-B/Rudrapuri coal block to KSSPL. In the same year in December, CBI found Gupta guilty in coal allocation and mining scam from Jharkhand. Madhu Koda, former Chief Minister of Jharkhand was also convicted in the case.
In another big blow to the Congress, the prime accused in the AgustaWestland Chopper deal, Christian Michel James was brought to India from UAE. Michel is the alleged deal broker in Rs. 3,600 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal.
Michel was arrested on the basis of an INTERPOL Red Notice in February 2017 by the UAE authorities. After his arrest, the CBI on September 1, 2017, filed a charge-sheet against Christian Michel and 11 others accused in the Chopper case. Michel had been fleeing away since the charge-sheet was filed. The charge-sheet further led to the issuance of an open non-bailable arrest warrant by the Special Judge, CBI Cases, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi on September 24, 2015. The extradition of Michel from UAE can be seen as a big diplomatic victory for the NDA government as such a high profile extradition has not taken place before.
Apart from these recent developments, troubles for the former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram also seem to be increasing. Enforcement Directorate (ED) and CBI are relentlessly pursuing the father-son duo in the Aircel-Maxis case. Just a week ago, CBI received government’s nod to prosecute the Chidambaram and his son. On May 15, 2017, the CBI had registered an FIR against P Chidambaram and Karti Chidambaram after finding irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance that was given to INX Media, allowing them to receive foreign funds worth Rs. 305 crore in 2007. CBI has also alleged Karti to have received funds worth Rs. 10 lakhs.
Congress’s favorite son-in-law, Robert Vadra was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate after the authorities accused him in the land scam in poll-bound Rajasthan’s Bikaner. He had earlier been summoned on November 20 but he did not appear in person and sent his legal representative with documents. He has now been asked to appear in person. Robert Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality Private Limited is said to have bought land for a little over Rs. 1 Lakh/hectare in Bikaner in 2010 and in January 2012, he sold this 69.55 hectares of land in two deals worth Rs. 7.41 lakh/hectare, seven times higher than the purchase price two years ago, amounting to about Rs. 5.15 Crore. The land was bought by Allegeny Finlease Private Limited (AFPL), which around the same time had received a loan of Rs. 5.55 crores, from power and steel giant Bhushan Power & Steel Limited (BPSL). But there has been no repayment to BPSL by AFPL as per AFPL’s filings with the Registrar of Companies. This certainly raises questions on the veracity of the UPA government and exposes their complacency in fighting corruption. The soft stand on the part of Congress party towards scamsters did a huge damage to the reputation of the country as it was ranked among the most corrupt nations.
It seems the high profile scamsters of the UPA era are no longer safe and the government is ensuring that they are brought to justice. Since the NDA government stormed to power in 2014, the problems for the corrupt officials and politicians have only increased. The culprits are being brought back in the country and many of them are ready to settle loans from abroad. Reformist measures like IBC, GST, and demonetisation have exacerbated things for the scamsters and the nation has done well in checking corruption.