Opposition parties have condemned the Settlement Commission’s decision to grant immunity to Sahara in the alleged bribery case involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
As expected, the Commission granted Sahara immunity from prosecution and penalty on the documents and money seized from its premises following raids by the Income Tax authorities in November 2014. The diaries recovered from the raids had mentioned a series of bribe payments to several politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was alleged to have received more than Rs 40 crore during his time as Gujarat chief minister.
A report by Indian Express said that the order passed by the Settlement Commission was one of the quickest in its history.
The Commission agreed with Sahara that the documents recovered from its premises could not be deemed credible evidence against the company.
The 50-page-order reportedly shows that the Commission had earlier rejected the application of the company before re-admitting it on 5 September, 2016.
It took the Settlement Commission just three hearings to issue a final order granting immunity on 10 November, 2016. This was just three days after the last hearing in the case on November 7, 2016.
This was in sharp contrast to the usual practice of taking about 18 months to pass final orders.
Reacting to the development, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Not Sahara but Modi ji who gets immunity. He recd bribes from Sahara. Modiji scuttling all enquiries against him. Proves he took bribes.” (sic)
It was Kejriwal, who had first revealed about the entries made in Sahara diaries in a special assembly session last year. Speaking to Janta Ka Reporter, he had feared that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may like to expedite the matter through the settlement commission because the latter’s decision could not be challenged in any court of law.
Congress vice president, Rahul Gandhi agreed as his tweet stated the similar sentiment, “Immunity for Sahara or immunity for Modiji? If your conscience is clear Modiji why fear investigation?”
Immunity for Sahara or immunity for Modiji? If your conscience is clear Modiji why fear investigation? https://t.co/VFXnCECUij
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 5, 2017
Noted Supreme Court lawyer, Prashant Bhushan, had moved the Supreme Court seeking its intervention but the apex court had asked him to furnish new evidence to substantiate his allegations against Modi.
Bhushan had alleged a “cover-up” in the wake of raids conducted by the Income Tax Department against Aditya Birla Group companies in October 2013 and on the Sahara India Group premises in November 2014.
On 25 October, Bhushan sent his complaint to all investigating agencies including the Chief Vigilance Commissioner and the two retired judges heading the Special Investigating Team on black money.
Bhushan told Janta Ka Reporter that the details emerging out of the appraisal report on the raids at Sahara Group was far more incriminating against Modi and his party than what the tax authorities discovered during their raids against the Aditya Birla Group.
Documents accessed by Janta Ka Reporter found entries of several payments made to one ‘Modi ji’ and ‘CM Gujarat’ running in crores at several places in the appraisal report.
On page 89, the report mentions at least eight payments made to ‘Modi ji’ in Ahmedabad via one Sahara employee, ‘Jaiswal ji.’
These payments, totalling Rs 40.10 crore, were made to ‘Modi ji’ by ‘Jaiswal ji’ between 30 October 2013 and 21 February 2014. By then Modi was already the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and had launched the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections.
On the same page, there are entries of others significant payments made to ‘CM MP,’ ‘CM Chhattisgarh’ and ‘CM Delhi.’
‘CM MP’ was paid Rs 10 crore in two installments through one ‘Neeraj Vashisht’ while payment of Rs 4 crore to ‘CM Chhattisgarh’ was made by ‘Nandi ji.’
‘CM Delhi’ received Rs 1 crore by same ‘Jaiswal’ who had made payment of Rs 40.1 crore to ‘Modi ji’ and ‘CM Gujarat’ on 23 September 2013.
On page 90 of the report, a list of similar payments are outlined, but here ‘Modi ji’ is stated as ‘CM Gujarat’ while the person, who made these payments remained ‘Jaiswal ji.’
On Page 91, other names include one ‘Shaina ji NC,’ who was paid through ‘Uday Ji.’ ‘Ms Shaina NC ji’ is stated to have been paid Rs 4 crore. According to the documents, ‘Shaina ji NC’ was paid Rs 4 crore in four installment between 28 August 2013 and 20 January 2014.
Page 92 has the list of several names, who are yet to be paid their promised amount. The sheet also has a line, which says, ‘Shania NC/Chief of BJP- ask her to help from A.(Advocate) General to withdrawal(close) Bombay case.’