When Jagan's bail petition came up for hearing at the Supreme Court today, I could not help recalling the fact that it has been 123 days since his unlawful arrest was effected. YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s case is a landmark case without a precedent in the political and legal history of the country. It exemplifies how the Congress High Command has been consistently using every institution in the country to stifle political dissent.
CBI’s probe against Jagan is the high command’s response to his decision to part ways with the Congress Party in November 2010 in protest against denial of permission to him to carry on the Odarpu Yatra, intended to personally offer condolences and a token financial support to the families of those who either committed suicide or died unable to bear the news of the sudden death of their beloved leader, Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy.
It should be clearly understood that this is not a disproportionate assets case of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. The complaint is that the Government of AP during the five year period 2004-09, had issued about 26 Government Orders which have allegedly doled out favours to private individuals against rules, regulations and conventions of the Government and the beneficiaries of these allegedly illegal GOs have as quid pro quo allegedly invested at unreasonably exorbitant premiums in the companies with which YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is connected.
The complaint is against Bharati cement and Jagati publications. What is interesting to note is that there are many persons who were by no stretch of imagination the beneficiaries of any Government Orders. They had also invested in the shares of Bharati and Jagati at the same premium as others against whom there are complaints of quid pro quo. Moreover, these companies are not sham companies. They are producing cement and publishing the eighth most widely circulated daily in India, besides running a popular news channel. The premium collected is very much in the company.
The premium at which the owners of Ushodaya, the company publishing Eenadu sold 26% of the shares to JM Financials is at least 200% more than the one charged by Jagati. Ushodaya could do this when their group’s accumulated losses were as high as Rs 1,800 crores. Why should there be any quid pro quo here when there is nothing like that in Ushodaya? Is it because 51% of the shares of Bharati Cements were purchased by a global cement giant at a much higher premium than what Jagan charged from the investors against whom there are charges of favouring Jagan? In this company as well, many businessmen who were in no way connected to the Government also invested at the same premium and gained substantially from their investment. There are no complaints against Jagan either siphoning or misappropriating the premium amount in the companies.
The key question is as to who is responsible for issuing GOs as per the Business Rules of the State? If the GOs are not illegal and if they are perfectly in order, there is no case at all. Everybody knows that as per the Government Business Rules approved by the Governor of AP, It is the Secretary to Government who issues the GOs with the authorization of the Minister concerned. Everything ought to be in order unless the Secretary and the Minister concerned also criminally collude with such private individuals and YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. How is it that the CBI has not included even one Minister and one Secretary who actually issued the GOs as an accused in the FIR?
Why did the CBI bring the name of late Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy as the main criminal conspirator, when under law and rules he had no power to issue GOs? Is it not a fact that in respect of Rs 1.75 lakh crore 2G Spectrum case, the Central Government has taken the stand that the onus is on the Minister, A. Raja, and the Secretary, Telecom and not on the Prime Minister, although he is the Head of the Government? Didn’t the CAG, in respect of Rs 1.85 lakh crores coal scam, say that the Prime Minister is not responsible despite he having presided over the Coal ministry when the alleged scam took place? Was the Prime Minister made responsible for the unprecedented financial scandals in the Commonwealth games that substantially lowered the prestige of our country globally? The answer is ‘No’ only because the CBI works under him. How does one then explain the CBI’s unethical conduct in naming the late chief minister as a criminal conspirator although there is no prima facie proof of his having issued the illegal GOs? Perhaps, even authoritarian regimes and Banana Republics wouldn’t allow such persecution.
Why were the names of ministers who were issued notices by the Supreme Court not included in the FIR? Surprisingly, for over six months neither the Ministers nor the Secretaries filed replies. In an unprecedented manner on the same day of filing the FIR, 28 teams of CBI raided our properties as well as those of all our investors, some of whom are large corporate houses. Why were the offices and houses of Secretaries and Ministers not raided?
Is there a bigger scam that has rocked this country than the Bofors Scam? Did the CBI conduct raids on the premises of late Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi in search of incriminating documents despite serious allegations being leveled against them with prima facie evidence of their involvement?
In the Adarsh scam in which a large number of senior Congress politicians, including a former CM of Maharashtra and two of the present members of the Union Cabinet were allegedly involved, a CBI probe was ordered. Why has there been no raid on the houses of the then CM Ashok Chavan and others in search of incriminating documents by the CBI till now?
What happened to the ACB case against K. Rosaiah, the former Chief Minister of AP? By declaring time and again his loyalty for Sonia Gandhi, he got his case dropped without any raids or even proper investigation. Who knows he might have even been rewarded with a Governor’s post for proclaiming his loyalty to Sonia Gandhi?
In our own State, a CBI probe was ordered into the Volkswagen scam that has rocked the State like never before. Were the houses of the minister or the secretary concerned raided even for a token search?
Therefore, didn’t the CBI raid the house of my father-in-law, the late Chief Minister, Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, only to humiliate the family for deserting the Congress Party? Do all these things reflect the rule of law?
Why should CBI go out of the way to insist on keeping Jagan Mohan Reddy in custody if the underlying intention is not to satisfy their political bosses, particularly when almost all those who have been shown as co-accused and co-conspirators of Jagan Mohan Reddy in the first four chargesheets were routinely granted bail mainly because the CBI did not even put up a semblance of opposition to their bail pleas.
The reasons adduced by CBI for opposing bail to Jagan are absolutely frivolous and mischievous. According to them, Jagan is an MP and can tamper with evidence and influence witnesses. Have Suresh Kalmadi, A Raja and Kanimozhi ceased to be MPs at the time of their getting bail? When Jagan did not influence any witness for 280 days after the FIR was filed and did not tamper with any evidence in this period, why should he do so now, particularly when there is absolutely nothing new that the CBI has reported in its more than 13 month intense investigation? The fact that CBI filed 1st, 2nd and 3rd chargesheets without any issues when Jagan Mohan Reddy was a free man goes against their argument.
A weekly as reputed as India Today had this to say in its June 11th 2012 edition:
“But while Jagan was being questioned by CBI at Dilkusha guest house near Hyderabad’s Rajbhavan, hectic confabulations were on in Delhi between State in charge Ghulam Nabi Azad, by-poll in charge Vayalar Ravi, Minister of State for Personnel, V Narayanaswamy and Cabinet Secretary A K Seth. They kept in constant touch. Then, Azad met Sonia on the morning of May 27th and later during the day, the orders went out: Arrest Jagan.”
India Today’s was not the only voice in the Fourth Estate; Commenting on Jagan’s arrest on 27-5-2012, when he was in the thick of electioneering, ‘The Hindu’ in its Editorial entitled ‘Petty scheming, big bullying’ published on 29-5-2012 wrote:
‘If the Congress is to effectively meet the Jagan challenge, it will have to do so politically, and not through the disproportionate use of investigative assets.’
The Times of India stated on 25th of May just 2days before Jagan’s arrest that
“if Jagan sweeps the bypolls, it will lead to an exodus of Congress MLAs to the YSR Congress and may create trouble for the Kiran Kumar Reddy government. It is to prevent this from happening, the government has given a go ahead to the CBI to move forward full throttle.
For those who came in late, the CBI has been investigating cases against Jagan for the last few months.
Although the CBI had filed two chargesheets against him, it didn't question Jagan.
If Jagan is arrested -- and his empire dismantled -- this will go as a signal to all Congressmen planning to leave the party. With Jagan in jail, the prospects of the YSR Congress consolidating its position in the coming months will be limited.
This will give breathing space to the collapsing Congress in Andhra Pradesh to work out a new matrix before the next general elections. Andhra Pradesh sent 33 Congress MPs to the Lok Sabha in 2009 and the party's tally in 2014 will be crucial.”
Jagan’s case clearly shows that ‘law will take its own course’ is a platitude; the reality is that the law is bent to suit the needs of the Congress High Command.
That Jagan inherited Dr. YSR’s legacy and was walking away virtually with the entire vote bank of both the Congress and TDP added up, was not something the Congress high command and Chandrababu Naidu could digest. AP contributed a lion’s share of strength of Congress MPs to the Lok Sabha in 2004 and 2009, thanks to Dr. YSR’s tireless efforts.
The result to the response Jagan evoked wherever he went was panic in the ranks of both the Congress and TDP. Both of them came together (an unthinkable act) in filing the FIR against Jagan. They have fallen flat in their efforts and the people of AP, who have already taught them a fitting lesson, are ready to do so again.
Jagan’s arrest, just fifteen days before the by-elections was an act of deliberate highhandedness on the part of CBI. The CBI, which had every right to arrest him at any time after 17-8-2011, did not do so for 280 days after filing the FIR. They did not even summon him for investigation for full 280 days after filing the FIR although he was made Accused 1 in the FIR. What was the urgency for CBI to arrest Jagan all of a sudden, if their intention was not to keep him away from canvassing and party affairs?
What did both these parties gain by such unethical actions? Obviously, their sole objective was to eliminate Jagan from the political scene. They have incurred the wrath of the people of the State as evidenced by the results of recent by-polls, where both the Congress and TDP conceded more than 48% of the vote bank to the YSR Congress Party. Surprisingly, the TDP, which has been out of power for over 8 years, also faced the ire of the voter for having ganged up with the ruling party.
More than 2,000 phones are under the surveillance of the CBI. They have not left even the ex-peons and clerks who were once associated with Jagan. By threatening some of these vulnerable persons, the CBI is forcibly collecting confessions under Section 164 CrPC and on that basis arresting persons, apparently to terrorize all those who are close to the YSR family. For the first time in the country’s legal history, the courts are issuing summons for testimony under Section 164 CrPC although the law is clear that testimony under that section should be voluntary. The CBI should tell the nation as to what they discovered more than what Jagan has already disclosed to Registrar of Companies, Income Tax and Lok Sabha Secretariat. In all their raids, could they lay their hands on unaccounted currency or a single incriminating document? Could the CBI in their investigation discover a single extra transaction that has already not been reported before 2009 itself?
The CBI has been making a mockery of criminal law by filing several chargesheets in one case and in respect of a single FIR. What the law says is that the CBI can file only one chargesheet in respect of one FIR, but thereafter if new facts that were not known to them at the time of filing the chargesheet have come to their knowledge after filing the chargesheet, supplementary chargesheets can be filed. But in this case, the CBI is deliberately splitting the FIR with utter disregard to law.
The limited issue is --- what did the CBI unearth so far other than what YS Jagan Mohan Reddy himself has disclosed to the Lok Sabha Secretariat, IT, ROC and in the affidavits filed with the Election Commission of India in 2009? This is nothing but witch-hunting of the highest order by the CBI, in which an individual is being targeted and his constitutional rights trampled upon, making a mockery of law and justice.
By Y S Bharathi