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Action against ‘anti-NDTV’ officer result of various transgressions, cases against NDTV founders to continue

People in the know explain that any departmental inquiry doesn’t mean that every deed by that individual gets invalidated. What SK Srivastava would have found against NDTV or its founders, would still be valid regardless of the action against the officers.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

In a major crackdown on corruption, as many as 12 government officials, including the Chief Commissioner, Principal Commissioners and the Commissioner of Income Tax Department have been ordered to retire early under Rule FR 56 (J) of the Central Civil Services (CCS) on Monday. The order was issued by Finance Ministry yesterday.

Finance Ministry sources said, “12 senior officers of ranks of Chief Commissioner, Principal Commissioners and Commissioner of Income Tax Department compulsorily retired under Rule 56 by the Finance Ministry”.

One name in that stood out in the list of 12 officers and created quite the flutter, was SK Srivastava, the man who had been leading the charge against NDTV.

S Gurumurthy, the part-time Director of the RBI and a crusader who has been highlighting NDTV’s shenanigans for a long time took to Twitter to express his concerns about SK Srivastava being sacked and what that would mean for the case against NDTV.

In an 88 page letter written to the CBI chief in April 2018, Srivastava had said that “NDTV Ltd. needs to be investigated over parking of bribe of US $40 million by Maxis and its owner T. Ananda Krishnan (accused in the Aircel-Maxis case) on behalf of P Chidambaram and Karti P. Chidambaram for obtaining FIPB approval in Rs.3500 crores. Aircel-Maxis deal fraudulently claiming the proposal for Rs.180 crores only when gross value of the proposal was to be considered and which has been hushed up by certain IRS officers in lieu of bribe paid by NDTV Ltd.”

Read also: Aircel Maxis: With CBI getting sanction to prosecute P Chidambaram, a relook at NDTV link and the IT officer’s letter to CBI

Interestingly, recently, NDTV had withdrawn a defamation case against activist and academician Madhu Kishwar for publishing an article that had the allegations that were levelled by SK Srivastava on the channel NDTV, its founders and even Abhisar Sharma, an ex-employee of NDTV.

After the 2017 CBI raids on NDTV founder Prannoy Roy’s house, several voices from within the journalist community had started questioning NDTV’s financial wrongdoings. Malini Parthasarathy, a Director in the company publishing the left-leaning newspaper The Hindu who has also served as its Editor earlier, said that she did not subscribe to the view that the case against NDTV was an attack on press freedom. She had also said that NDTV is hiding behind the press-freedom veil to skirt answering questions. After this, Prannoy Roy had blocked Malini on Twitter to avoid the embarrassment of answering her questions.

Meanwhile, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy said that he would be taking up the case of SK Srivastava, the IT Commissioner who was investigating NDTV. He also said that first, he will write to the Prime Minister regarding the issue too.

NDTV had alleged that SK Srivastava had harassed two women colleagues. The names of the 2 lady Income Tax officials are Sumana Sen and Ashima Neb. Sumana Sen’s husband Abhisar Sharma was employed with NDTV as a senior journalist, when Sen is alleged to have favoured NDTV in a Tax case, in exchange for a Rs 1 crore holiday.

After SK Srivastava was sacked by the government yesterday, Abhisar Sharma took to Twitter to celebrate the ‘victory’.

While the conversation around what would happen to the cases against NDTV has been raging on social media, government sources told OpIndia that the cases against SK Srivastava are aplenty because of which, among the 12 officers against whom action was taken, Srivastava was one of them.

He has been accused of two lady IRS officers of Commissioner rank. One of them, was incidentally the wife of Abhisar Sharma as mentioned before. We were informed that SK Srivastava had got tax evasions petition filed through a Member of Parliament stating that the two lady IRS officers of Commissioner rank (who were in vigilance department when SK Srivastava was suspended) had received huge income from corruption and prostitution. He pressurized the assessing officers to pass orders adding the alleged income of bribery and prostitution in their incomes. This was incidentally what Abhisar Sharma had claimed all along. He had asserted that he and his wife were innocent of the charges levied by Srivastava.

According to S Gurumurthy, however, the allegations of sexual harassment against SK Srivastava have been proven to be false.

He also allegedly threatens officers who refuse to cooperate with him with slander. Recently, as an instance, he filed a contempt petition against Former Revenue Secretary and the Establishment Officer in a frivolous case, according to government sources.

He has also allegedly been prolonging conclusion of departmental inquiry cases for the last 10 years by filing as many as 75 petitions in CAT, High Court, and Supreme Court.

In as many as eight cases, High Court and CAT have passed strictures and warning and imposed fines for his scandalous allegations against the lady officers and other higher officers. In one case he has been ordered to undergo civil imprisonment of 15 days for his allegations against the former Chairman and Members of CBDT. He has also filed contempt petitions against former Secretary Revenue.

It is because of these instances that the government took action against Srivastava along with 11 other officers who were accused in various other cases.

People in the know explain that any departmental inquiry doesn’t mean that every deed by that individual gets invalidated. What SK Srivastava would have found against NDTV or its founders, would still be valid regardless of the action against the officers.

Therefore, while NDTV or its founders might celebrate and cite it as proof of their innocence, that would not be legally sound, because departmental action against SK Srivastava doesn’t mean that everyone else has got a clean chit.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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