Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sahara-Birla payoff documents clear evidence of bribery to politicians, babus: Ex-Delhi HC judge to CDBT

Justice Shah
By Our Representative
Former Delhi High Court judge, Justice AP Shah, has in a letter to the chairperson, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), said that documents seized in the bribery and corruption in the by now well-known famous Sahara-Birla payoffs case are a “clear evidence" of systematic bribery of politicians, including several Chief Ministers and public servants by these business groups.
Shah’s letter follows the order of the IT Settlement Commission (ITSC) in which the Sahara group got immunity. One of the most controversial entries, which are part of the rejected documents, is the alleged payment to ‘Gujarat CM’, interpreted widely as a total payment of not less than Rs 55 crore to Narendra Modi as chief minister in 2013.
Claiming possession of “authentic copies of the seized documents recovered in the raids”, Shah says, the CBI, in the case of Birla, and the Income Tax Department, the case of Sahara, reportedly recovered and seized documents, notes, laptops and huge amounts of cash.
Writing as chairman of the Citizens Whistleblowers Forum (CWF), Shah asks CBDT to “challenge” the order passed by ITSC granting immunity to Sahara, insisting, these documents show systematic bribery of politicians and and public servants.
However, he regrets, “Despite this evidence the same was not referred to CBI for a criminal investigation”, though the stand taken by the IT department had shown that it “disbelieved” the bogus explanations given by Sahara and Birla officers and had held that the documents seized were “correct/non-fictitious and depicted the true state of affairs.”
The letter insists, “The circumstances make out a more than adequate case for directing a credible and independent investigation as per the law laid down by Constitution Bench of Supreme Court”, adding, "Facts make out a clear case for criminal investigation."
Those who are part of the CWF include Justice Santosh Hegde, former Supreme Court judge; Admiral Ramdas, former Chief of Naval Staff;, Wajahat Habibullah, first chief information commissioner, Dr EAS Sarma, former secretary, Government of India; Aruna Roy, well-known social activist; Jagdeep Chhokar, with the Association for Democratic Reforms; and and Prashant Bhushan, advocate, Supreme Court.
Shah's letter has been released by sabrangindia.in, a website run by top human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, known for her fight for the 2002 Gujarat riots victims.
“In the Sahara case”, Shah says, “Some of the relevant seized documents are the printouts of the three Excel sheets showing cash receipt of over Rs 115 crore and cash outflow of over Rs 113 crore during a short period of 10 months.”
Pointing out that the first sheet goes up to March 4, 2014, and the other two go up to February 22, 2014 and November 12, 2013, Shah insists, “The entries in all the three sheets are tallying with each other. The logs suggest that cash was apparently transferred to several important public figures.”
He adds, “The Excel sheets show the date of payment, to whom money was paid, the amount paid, through whom it was paid and the place of payment. Therefore, they contain enough information to initiate a thorough investigation.”
As for to the Birla case, Shah says, the IT department interrogated one of the senior officers on oath, and he stated that in his statement, recorded on oath, that he had recorded in handwriting “unaccounted cash transactions" worth Rs 25 crore for the  the group, and that he was responsible for handling it. 

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