Yesterday, the Congress party launched a last-minute effort to influence the voters with an unverified video where in the BJP leader Sriramulu is allegedly talking about bribes paid to the judiciary. While the veracity of the video is yet to be confirmed, there are multiple loopholes in the allegations of ‘bribing the judiciary’.
BJP MP Sriramulu caught on tape in a sting operation where he is talking about paying Rs. 160 crores for bribing a Supreme Court Judge in a mining case. He is talking to the SC judge’s son-in-law.
— Srivatsa (@srivatsayb) May 10, 2018
It is amusing to see the Congress party believe in an allegation based on four screenshots! Considering the prowess of Congress social media head, a video with subtitles must have been provided.
The video and audio of BTV are of very poor quality. The characters in the video speak Telegu and Kannada intermittently. The channel has not provided any subtitles or translations to the Kannada speaking audience. It has not pointed out the exact spot where the alleged bribe was mentioned. Is this a deliberate omission or just poor quality of journalism on the part of the channel?
The allegations of the Congress regarding the CJI’s judgement are deliberately kept vague. There are no specifics regarding how Reddy brothers have been benefited by the order. In addition to this, there is no evidence of the money trail of the alleged bribe.
The deal between Reddy-Sriramulu & SC Justice was done to reopen their illegal mining activities which was stopped by Andhra High Court.
— Srivatsa (@srivatsayb) May 10, 2018
Several questions arise regarding this part of the allegation.
- What does one mean by a favourable judgement?
- Which part of the judgement was favourable to Reddy brothers?
- How did CJI’s judgement bailout Reddy brothers from the Hyderabad HC’s judgement?
- In fact, what was the judgement delivered by CJI Balakrishnan?
CJI Balakrishnan delivered two judgements in relation to the Obulapuram mining company. The first one was on 14 January 2010 and the second one before his retirement (on 10 May 2010). CJI retired on 12th May 2010.
Below are the excerpts from a judgement delivered by CJI related to Obulapuram mining company on 14 January 2010. (emphasis added) :
The State of Andhra Pradesh has filed these appeals challenging the interim order passed by the High Court of Judicature of A.P. at Hyderabad in different Writ Petitions which were jointly heard by the High Court. The respondents herein were granted three leases for mining and there were allegations that the lease/licence holders had extended the mining activities beyond the boundaries of the leasehold properties and that the Central Empowered Committee (for short ‘C.E.C.’) has filed a Report on 19.11.2009 and in the Report it was stated that there were certain violations of boundaries of the lease-hold area.
After the report of the C.E.C, the State Government passed an order stopping the mining operations on 25.11.20090. This order was challenged by the respondents in these two appeals. By the impugned order, the High Court permitted these respondents to go on with the mining subject to certain conditions. The operative portion of the order is as follows :
1) The applicants are entitled to carry on mining operations within the designated mining areas covered by the leased deeds;
2) the applicants shall not carry on mining operations to the extent of the area of about 40 meters towards the Karnataka boundary as pointed out by the Three Member Committee in respect of Compartment Nos.698 and 699 of Bellary reserved forest, pending further orders;
3) the State Government shall be free to identify, demarcate and fix the boundaries of the leased areas after giving notices to the applicants;
4) on such demarcation, if the State Government finds that the applicants have occupied any area beyond the leased areas, it is entitled to invoke its power under Section 21 of the Act, evict the applicants from such unauthorized areas and exercise all the powers vested in it under the said provision, after following the prescribed procedure; and
5) the applicants shall furnish bank guarantee for the entire A stock(iron ore) of 1,95,000 tons, which is said to be lying in their stock yards, at the rate as fixed by the competent authority as per Rules in force, before transporting the iron ore from their stock yards.”
This Court, while entertaining these appeals, granted stay of the impugned order on 17.12.2009.
In the order passed on 10 May 2010, the Supreme Court says the following (emphasis added)
13. On the submissions as having been advanced by learned counsel for parties, we have given our serious thought and deliberations to the same. In our considered opinion, respondent No.1-Company can be allowed to start the mining operation only with regard to undisputed area which neither falls in the State of Karnataka nor would be abutting Karnataka boundary.
It will also not be permitted to do any mining operation in those areas which according to the base Map dated 4.5.2010 Annexure ‘A’ fall within its leased area but may be falling in the leased area of other lessees. To clarify further, we direct that mining operations, if at all are to be carried out by respondent No.1, then it shall be done only and only in the undisputed areas. If they try to encroach upon any other area, then it shall be open for the petitioners to forthwith stop the mining operations of respondent No.1.
This permission is granted to Respondent No.1 to work out equities between the parties but on account of it Respondent No.1 shall not be able to claim any right as the same would be finally adjudicated upon at the time of hearing of the Special Leave Petitions.
In summary, the CJI ordered the state government to evict the Obulapuram mining company from the unauthorized areas. In addition to this, it is following the recommendations of the independent committee that was looking into the illegal mining activities of Obulapuram mining company. The Congress must explain as to how this was favourable to Reddy brothers.
It appears that the Congress is extremely nervous about its prospects on election day. Therefore it might have launched a poorly conceived allegations based on an unverified video. Whether the public will be swayed by such allegations is something that remains to be seen in coming days.