Earthquake: A poem by RSN Singh

An earthquake or any natural disaster has many layers of  human tragedies and stories of irreparable loss and emotional devastation.

The emotional havoc caused by the recent earthquake in Sikkim and other areas needs to be addressed.

The poem below is based on a true incident in the earthquake at Chamoli.

It is written by former military intelligence officer RSN Singh. He has also served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, Singh is also a guest blogger for Canary Trap.

That night with me she snuggled,
‘Papa! Tell me a story’: She chuckled,
The story only half complete,
My little girl went asleep.

The lamp continued to flicker,
Accentuating her serene demeanour,
Overwhelmed, I planted a kiss,
Beside her I lay asleep.

No sound, no rain, no wind,
A disaster does all ‘lulls’ brings?
Ominous signs were there,
But I did not dare to care.

The night blew with a deafening noise,
The earth had lost its poise,
Rocking the bed  like a cradle indeed,
With  innocent  tenacity-
Her heart must have beat

My world began to crumble,
For safety I  scrambled,
Possessed by instinct to live,
I did not contest God’s writ.

The disaster when ebbed away,
Thought of her made way,
Desperately I rummaged the debris,
Hoping to recover my life’s ‘edifice’.

I found my doll still asleep,
Sporting a smile so deep,
Dreaming though the half-story told,
How could I have her care sold?

Instinct to live draws the worst in some,
For fear the inevitability of being undone.
In my now shameful and guilty living,
‘Papa! complete the story’-
She is constantly complaining.

Police joins in Gopalgarh to kill Muslims: Rings a bell?


Home Minister P. Chidambaram would do well to take a helicopter ride to Gopalgarh, in Rajasthan, close to both Haryana and UP, where on September 14, the police, in collusion with local Gujjars, fired and killed nine Muslims (of the Meo community) in a mosque. Muslim anger spilling over into UP would be disastrous for the Congress 2012 campaign.

The post mortem report, conducted in Sawai Man Singh hospital, Jaipur, has confirmed three deaths by “bullets” and three were burnt alive. The remaining three died of injuries from sharp weapons. Officially, seven are missing and twenty-three injured. The unofficial figure of the injured is in excess of fifty.

Of the nineteen policemen at Gopalgarh police station, nine were Gujjars. In the entire Meo belt, beginning from Nuh on the Delhi-Alwar highway, and spreading across Rajasthan, Haryana and UP, there is a large presence of Gujjars in the police force and none of Meo Muslims, much the larger community.

The number of dead does not tell the story of Meo helplessness which becomes apparent at every turn on a two and a half hour drive from New Delhi past Nuh, Pahari and Gopalgarh. The logistics being so convenient for all the channels headquartered in New Delhi, the blackout of the story is inexplicable. Salman Rushdie once made an observation about European (media too) attitude towards the Bosnian carnage: “You reverse the religious affiliations of those brutalized and NATO would have moved in immediately.” Put it down to my cowardice that I hesitate to make that point about our media’s attitude to Gopalgarh. But it is tragic that, except for the Indian Express, I saw no other media in an area known for its unique culture and where almost everybody is aching to tell a sad story.

The great historian and author of the History of the People of Hindustan, the late Dr. K.M. Ashraf was a Meo. The Meo community was, until a few years ago, a unique blend of Islamic faith and Hindu culture – rather like Indonesia, where the practice of Islam has no conflictual equation with the local culture which derives from Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Ramzan Chaudhry, a lawyer, remembers his grandmother wearing the Rajput “Lehnga” and organizing Govardhan Puja without prejudice to namaz each day.

Successive administrations treated Meos with neglect. This gave an opening to the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Tablighi-Jamaat to step in, “refine” the faith and dilute the colourful culture.

Three kms from Gopalgarh is the large Meel ka Madrasa, where 2,000 boys and girls live in a series of gigantic courtyards ringed by verandahs and tidy rooms like major universities anywhere. “What job will you get once you pass out from the Madrasa?” I ask 15 year old Jamal.

“A moulvi” (priest) he responds with pride. A moulvi in the kind of Mosque where the police and Gujjars opened fire?

It is uncharitable and wrong to link Madrasas with militancy. But what is frightening is this large turnover of unemployable “moulvis”.

Even though the Meos are much the largest population in the area, Gujjars are more self assured after their recent publicized agitation for reservations. They also feel more muscular because of the support they have from the police.

The scene of the violence is a set of three properties – a mosque, two acre enclosure for special Eid prayers and a few acres of disputed land which the Muslims use as their graveyard. On this some Gujjars have encroached.

It is at this point that communal politics gets mixed up with a land dispute. On September 13 Gujjars beats up the moulvi of the mosque precisely to raise tensions. Gopalgarh is tense. On September 14, RSS, VHP and Gujjar leaders mob the Superintendent of Police and Collector and forcibly obtain orders for the police to fire on Meos seeking shelter in the mosque.

At this stage, politics takes over. Rajasthan’s Congress Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has 96 seats in a House of 200. He makes up the deficit with the help of BSP MLAs from the Meena tribe with whom Meos have “ties of blood” and Gujjars have traditional antipathies. Meos and Meenas have the same sub castes and “gotras”. So, Gehlot suspends the collector and SP and removes all the Gujjars from Gopalgarh police station. He announces a judicial and CBI inquiry plus a compensation of Rs. Five Lakh for relatives of those killed.

Four bodies are quietly buried, after relatives accept five lakh cheques. But Kirorilal Meena, who has emerged as the leader of the Meos, raises the compensation demand to Rs. 25 lakh and a plot of land for a memorial to the dead plus resignation of Rajasthan Home Minister, Shanti Dhariwal who has been tepid on the Gopalgarh tragedy. Gehlot cannot annoy the Meenas, who are the front for Meos, because his survival in Jaipur depends on them. He is helpless on Dhariwal whose hold on the “Hindu” vote is priceless. So he is in a bind.

Like every other group, Meos too have created their tiny dynasties. Zahida Begum, Congress MLA from Kama in Rajasthan, is under pressure from Gehlot to use her influence and end the Gopalgarh story before New Delhi tweaks the Chief Minister’s ears. If she succeeds she will become Minister. Bhupendra Singh Hooda, Haryana Chief Minister, is pressing his Meo MLA Aftab Ahmad to stop Muslim anger from spilling over into his state. Aftab and Zahida are political enemies but are together in limiting the “Gopalgarh-effect” for their own reasons. Zahida’s brother, Fazal may be given an assembly ticket in Haryana if she can join forces with her political enemy Aftab Ahmad to help Hooda. But everyone is at this moment being neutralized by Kirorilal Meena, the most influential leader of the Meos. Congress, which has lost the habit of doing its homework, probably does not know that Kirorilal Meena, the most popular leader of the Muslim Meos was once a BJP MP and has just returned from Ahmedabad after attending Narendra Modi’s sadbhavna fast!

At his instance, the burials may be delayed, the charge sheets against the local administration be more comprehensive. Should tensions linger and travel to UP, Chidambaram will be asked questions. Should he travel to Gopalgarh? If he does not visit, Digvijay Singh may.

(Saeed Naqvi is senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)

Why is Antony playing ducks and drakes with the Army?


In reply to a question in parliament, Defence Minister AK Antony stated that the present Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Gen VK Singh, got his last three promotions officially predicated on 10 May 1950 as his date of birth. This statement is not in consonance with the records held in Army Headquarters (AHQ), which clearly indicate otherwise – 10 May 1951.

The defence minister’s statement may be construed as breach of parliamentary privilege . It is sad commentary on the health and vulnerability of our institutions that a simple issue pertaining to the date of birth of the chief of the apolitical Indian Army is being politicised not only by the government but by certain segments of the media as well.

An article in the 19 September issue of India Today is titled “Lies of the General”. It is the most obnoxious attack on Gen VK Singh, rather the office of the Chief of Army Staff of India.

The article claims to be based on documents obtained through RTI. If the article, and more so its title, has any credibility then the government should remove Gen VK Singh immediately, as no army can afford to have a ‘liar’ as its chief. And in case, at some stage, the article and its title are found to be motivated, then India Today must come clean for the sake of its credibility and prestige failing which the army  must initiate legal action against the weekly for targeting the office of the COAS.

If, Gen VK Singh did not have incontrovertible and clinching material and evidence, and if there were no ugly dimensions being inflicted on a simple issue of date of birth (DOB), which does not involve ‘change’ but ‘correction’ in the legally insignificant Army List, four former and very honourable chief justices of India and a former solicitor general, all with unimpeachable records of personal and judicial probity, would not have given their opinion in favour of Gen VK Singh.

The case is extremely simple and does not require a fantastic judicial mind to unravel the truth, based both on ‘proof’ and ‘motive’. Unfortunately, various military secretaries since 2006, goaded by their bosses to adhere to a particular succession plan, first raked up the issue after Gen VK Singh had put in 35 years of service and then gave convoluted and specious arguments to disfavour Gen Singh’s correct date of birth: 10 May 1951.

In hindsight, the intention of the concerned authorities in the Army HQs seems to be suspect as they never wanted to accept their mistake and reconcile the DOB in respect of General VK Singh. On 25 January, a Joint Secretary in the MoD, Bimal Julka wrote to the military secretary: “…. a detailed inquiry may be conducted in to the matter to find out the correct date of birth of the officer immediately in consultation with the AG branch”.

But no inquiry was conducted.

Subsequently, in response to an RTI, the AG branch sought the opinion of the legal advisor to the ministry  of defence, who in turn solicited the advice of the law ministry. Both confirmed that Gen Singh’s date of birth was 10 May 1951.

Curiously, the matter was referred again to the law ministry on the plea that the opinion given was by a junior officer. If a joint secretary to the government of India is junior, then one wonders who are ranked senior officers.

Matriculation certificate Vs UPSC form

On 23 May 1965, Gen Singh, who was a minor and had still not appeared for his matriculation exam, applied for the NDA. The UPSC form, as in the case of other students, was filled with the assistance of school staff. They erroneously had the DOB of Gen Singh filled as 10 May 1950 instead of 1951. In the absence of a matriculation certificate, a school leaving certificate from the school (Birla Public School, Pilani) and  a certificate from the unit (14 Rajput) of the father of Gen Singh, i.e. Major Jagat Singh duly signed by the commanding officer, was forwarded to the UPSC, which clearly indicated the DOB of Gen Singh as 10 May 1951.

It was a clear case of erroneous entry and oversight as no sane individual will declare himself older contradicting what is contained in the documents supporting it. It may be emphasised that Gen Singh was eligible for NDA with both DOBs – 10 May 1950 and 10 May 1951.

According to the India Today article, the Attorney General stresses that the UPSC form is “to be filled in the candidate’s own handwriting, he has to declare …the statements are true”. The missing link between the words ‘declare’ and ‘the statements’ is mischievous. The correct sentence is “I hereby declare that the statements made in the application are true to the best of my knowledge and belief”. The words ‘knowledge and belief’ do cater to inadvertent human errors.

The UPSC form is only an ‘application form’. An application form can only be initially scrutinised. The details filled therein have to be verified by other documentary records, which in case of DOB is the matriculation certificate and is considered unimpeachable and of greatest evidentiary value in the eyes of law.

As per UPSC rules, primacy has to be given to the matriculation certificate for verifying the DOB. Had it not been for this the UPSC would not have raised a query to clarify the DOB in respect of Gen Singh. An Under Secretary of the UPSC, Sri Krishan, wrote to Gen Singh on 18 June 1966:

“With reference to your application for the above examination, I am directed to say that you have claimed 10.05.1950 as date of birth in Col. 5 of the application, whereas in the certificate submitted by you the date of birth is shown as 10.05.1951. You are required to clarify the discrepancy and intimate the correct date of birth”.

Subsequently, the matriculation results were out in June and Gen Singh’s father sent the ‘Provisional Certificate’ (DOB 10 May 1951) on 24 June 1966 through a special courier, which was acknowledged in writing by the UPSC. A copy of the acknowledgement letter is available with this author.

The matter was thereafter never raised by the UPSC. Such cases are not rare and the UPSC on receiving provisional certificate allows a candidate to continue on a provisional basis till receipt of the original certificate.

Therefore anyone, who, based on the UPSC form, contends that Gen Singh was born on 10 May 1950 and not 10 May 1951 is implying that Gen Singh is a liar, his father Major (later Lt Col) Jagat Singh was a liar, and the authorities at the Birla Public School, Pilani, were in connivance with the father and son, because ‘they could then foresee that a 14-year-old lad would be the COAS not for two years but three years! ‘This is legally and morally preposterous and reprehensible.

Not ‘change’ but ‘rectification’

On commissioning in 1970, Gen Singh was issued the Indian Army Identity Card by the Indian Military Academy, which endorses his DOB as 10 May 1951. It is obvious that consequent to the submission of his provisional certificate his DOB in the main record was corrected.

In 1971, when Gen Singh (then second lieutenant) visited his ancestral village after many years, as he normally spent his vacations at the place of posting of his father, he found his original matriculation certificate. The certificate had taken a tortuous journey – i.e. Rajasthan Secondary Board of Education – Birla Public School, Pilani – his father’s original unit (14 Rajput) – Rewa Recruiting Office and NCC, Narnaul (the two places his father subsequently served) – and finally to his ancestral village.

The certificate had remained unattended, as his father had moved out to Bhiwani where he expired. Gen Singh instantly submitted the original certificate to Army HQs AG Branch through his unit 2 Rajput. If the DOB in the original certificate was at variance with other records, the AG’s Branch would certainly have raised query.

The AG’s Branch has consistently and categorically maintained that all records available with it testify Gen Singh’s DOB at 10 May 1951. The AG’s Branch is the legitimate and official record holder of all documents. When a RTI query was raised in February 2011 on Gen Singh’s age record, it was directed to the AG’s Branch and not the MS Branch.

While Gen Singh was commissioned in 1970, he submitted his original certificate in 1971, and the Army List was published in the year 1974-75. Therefore, the consistent stand by concerned Military Secretaries (MS) that as per rules, “no request for change/correction of date of birth will be entertained after a lapse of two years from date of commission” is motivated and mischievous. Motivated, as there was a gap of four years between the commissioning of Gen Singh and publication of the Army List. Mischievous, because the word ‘correction’ was ‘inserted’ as Gen Singh had consistently maintained that he has not been asking for ‘change’, but ‘correction’ in one particular place, i.e. Army List.

Army List has no legal sanctity

Intoxicated by their bureaucratic power, they disdainfully dismissed the fact that they had no authority with respect to the DOB of an officer, the real custodian and authority being the Adjutant General Branch. In a letter dated 21 June 2008, the military secretary wrote to Gen Singh, “we are constrained to maintain your official date of birth as 10 May 1950, and same may kindly be reflected in all your records and documents. The AG’s branch is accordingly intimated to amend the records being maintained by them.

The above direction is ridiculous. Firstly, the MS branch has no authority to ask the AG’s Branch to change its records, in fact it is otherwise. Secondly, DOB cannot be changed on a mere direction of a branch of Army HQs. In directing the AG’s Branch, the MS branch, in its ignorant megalomania, did not consider what would happen to Gen Singh’s passport, driving licence, insurance, pensions, retirement benefits, etc.

In any case, available information suggests that the MS never asked the AG to do so.

The Army List on which various military secretaries premised their case should find its place in the wastepaper basket as far as DOB and its verification is concerned. It appears that these officers were acutely aware of the omissions and failings of the MS branch that they headed and their legal limitations on the issue and therefore resorted to intimidation, the implied threat being sabotage of the promotion in case Gen Singh did not obey their diktat of accepting the incorrect date of birth that the MS branch had recorded. Sample these:

“… we are constrained to maintain your official date of birth as 10 May 1950, and the same may kindly be reflected in all your records… Please acknowledge and confirm acceptance” (letter from MS to Gen VK Singh  dated 21 January 2008).

“Request fwd (forward) ack (acknowledgement) and confirm acceptance of date of birth as given in para 5 (five) of letter dated 21 January 2008… (.) If reply not received by 1000 hrs on 25 Jan 08 action deemed appropriate will be taken (.) (from MS to Gen Singh  dated 24 Jan 2008).

Once it felt that it had succeeded in its coercion bid, the MS branch, in a rare moment of magnanimity, conceded in January 2008 in a letter dated 25 January 2008 to the ministry of defence: “Based on UPSC commissioning documents and MS branch records, Army List indicated the date of birth of IC-24173 Lt Gen VK Singh, AVSM, YSM as 10 May 1950. The Officer had indicated his date of birth as 10 May 1951 to AG’s branch based on SSC certificate issued to him in 1971 by Rajasthan Secondary Education Board. The dichotomy of records between AG’s records and MS records was not reconciled because of lack of coordination between the two branches at that point of time. The officer had also been mentioning 10 May 1951 in all his ACR’s but the MS branch did not seek clarification/reconcile his date of birth.”

The bogey of ‘acceptance’

In the present context in the army, wherein the journey from Major General to General takes only four to five years, any minor impediment, that too motivated, can override the entire life’s toil and derail the future of even the most upright and conscientious officer. The stakes are, therefore, very high, which the respective military secretaries, and their benefactors exploited to the hilt.

Given the vitiated circumstances it is therefore perfectly legitimate for any man of character to buy conditional reprieve when enjoined upon by his superiors that he take a temporary undertaking due to inexplicable organisational constraints with a promise of ultimate justice and redemption of honour. That is exactly what Gen Singh did. Sample these:

“Whatever decision taken in organizational interest is acceptable to me” (from Gen Singh on 24 Jan 2008). Note: This did not satisfy the MS and was followed by a threatening signal.*

“In view of the above constraint and in discussion of date, I will mention the date of birth as directed”. ( Letter from Gen Singh, dated 13 Jan 2008).

Finally, Gen Singh, then Army Commander, wrote to COAS General Deepak Kapoor, on 01 July 2008: “I had no qualms in giving in writing whatever I was asked for despite my reservation… I have deliberated and thought over all aspects of the issue and feel compelled to bring it to an ethical and logical conclusion. At the outset, I would like to know the ‘constraint’ mentioned by the MS Branch”. 

Any ‘acceptance,’ that too under coercion, does not change the moral and legal parameters. Self-declaration or ‘acceptance’ of DOB cannot even get you a driving licence or passport, let alone make one a COAS. Moreover, the general did repeatedly appeal to the residual moral sense of the concerned powers in the Army HQs, but was stonewalled by the predetermined and ‘inviolate” succession scheme scripted by the same people who are in the docks today for various moral violations, including abuse of their high offices.

India Today is, therefore, spot-on to say; ‘’On May 7, then Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar noted that the amendment of the army chief’s date of birth would impact the succession plan.’’ What alternatives does an army officer have under the circumstances? Further, the India Today article, right at the outset, says: “Army Chief General VK Singh said he was born in 1950…”

Further the India Today article says, “…it got him three promotions…”. This is complete misrepresentation of facts and truth. A document  dated 01 July 2011 signed by the present Military Secretary Lt Gen GM Nair categorically states:

On scrutiny of past records pertaining to selection boards, it has been observed that the MDSs pertaining to IC-24173 Gen VK Singh, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, ADC, which were drawn up at the time of his consideration by various selection boards for promotion to select ranks, reflect the date of birth of general officer as 10 May 1951.

V K Singh Data - 1

Gen Singh never ‘said’ or ‘admitted’ but was ‘alternatively coerced and made to feel obligated to accept the directions of his seniors in the plea of organisational interests’, and was placated by assurances of redeeming his position.Gen Singh should have realised that these same forces could have settled the matter in a few days if, on the direction of MOD, they had conducted an inquiry and reconciled the DOB based on the evidentiary and supporting documents held with the AG’S Branch, the legitimate custodian. But that was never the intention!Notes to Table 2:* The India Todayarticle has quoted the Attorney General: “police verification in 1966 also shows date of birth as 1950”. The documents available with this author speak otherwise. These documents are: verification done by DIG CID IB Rajasthan vide his letter No. CIL/SB/VR-G/ (V-8) 64/66/4465 Jaipur dated 22/06/1966, Serial 6 of IAFF(P)-14, and verification by SHO Bhiwani, SP Hissar, District Magistrate, Hissar, and authenticated by DIG CID Punjab signed by DIG(CID) Punjab Sarwant Singh letter No. 1295/MA/ date 22 July 66. It may be noted that Haryana had not separated from Punjab then. These letters categorically give General VK Singh’s DOB as 10 May 1951.** On 30 March 2011, MD Paliath, IDAS, Principal Controller, wrote to Lt Gen VK Chaturvedi, Director General of Manpower Planning, AG’s Branch : “I find from records maintained here (copy of Form-A at the time of commission enclosed) that the date of birth of the COAS Gen VK Singh is already shown as 10 May 1951”.*** The date of birth (10 May 1950) entered in the UPSC form was not backed by any documentary proof. It was questioned and a clarification was sought by UPSC itself. Gen  VK Singh promptly had submitted documents, which supported his contention that the entry in the application form was erroneous and his date of birth was 10 May 1951.**** The DOB in the Army List was mere perpetuation by the concerned branch of the erroneous entry filled in the UPSC form, which UPSC had rectified long ago.

Which are the lies of the General? There is only one truth, the succession plan to suit one individual. The desperation of the government is unmistakable and intriguing.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a guest blogger for Canary Trap. This post was first published on Firstpost on September 20, 2011)

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Who’s trying to fix the Army Chief by raking up his age?

Credibility deficit in the Western media


The story could not have been summed up more succinctly: the photograph shows David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy in Tripoli holding aloft the hand of a Libyan leader they would like to promote. Below, the headline across three columns – “Islamists Rise in New Libya”. This was refreshingly honest.

The world Information order, like much else, was shaped when India was a colony. It is a matter of astonishment how the Indian elite allowed itself to be a passive recipient of images beamed at it by the western media and, in foreign coverage, its Indian transmitters.

I had lodged the issue in some deep recess of my mind and allowed it to freeze until the so called Arab Spring impelled me to the region. Here I was again, the lonesome Indian journalist, in Ramallah, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Cairo, Amman, Baghdad, Bahrain, the oil bearing eastern province of Saudi Arabia.

Later, in Damascus, Homs, Hama in Syria just as I had been to Sana’a, in Yemen and Tripoli before all hell broke loose. I list these news spots only to make a point: unless you have your media there, in the midst of the story, how would you ever know the lengths to which the Western media can go, when it rallies behind a national agenda, to dissemble and purposefully shape your mind? Even the coincidence of that telling photograph and the contradictory headline would require decoding unless you have followed the drift of the from a consistent source.

On my return from Damascus, when I suggested to a senior leader that an Indian delegation should visit important countries in what is virtually India’s “near abroad”, he looked at me like I was pushing him into the line of fire.

“You are not suggesting that we go to Hama, are you?” he asked weakly.

Hama causes raised eyebrows because of the harshness with which Hafez al Assad suppressed an Islamist uprising in 1982. But all recent reports of protests being put down by tanks and rockets are concoctions, in most instances, as a group of six Indian journalists recently found out. Damascus seemed more at peace than New Delhi is before or after the recent High Court blast. Yes there was tension in Hama, a certain restiveness, nasty graffiti painted over in black. But no trace of a “massacre”.

The negative images on Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya channels are being flashed by the Islamic rebels who have been equipped with technology provided by the US keen to weaken Syria’s links with Iran and Hezbollah.

James Glanz and John Markoff of the New York Times say: “The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy ‘shadow’ internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.”

“The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cell phone networks inside foreign countries, as well one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “Internet in a suitcase” – all part of what is being called “Liberation technology movement”.

The suitcase can be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet.

“The state Department is financing the creation of stealth wireless networks that would enable activists to communicate outside the reach in countries like Iran, Syria and Libya.”

In this Information war, on whose side are we? In the absence of our own sources of information, these are the traps we can walk into. If BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya were to provide free service to Indian channels, do you think our great “independent” media will be able to resist the bait?

When the Anglo-French plot on Libya was first hatched, I wrote in these spaces that folks in Benghazi luring Europe are the very same who started 2006 uprising against the Danish cartoons. The sole voice was drowned out by the drumbeat of “revolution”. And now, after six months of relentless NATO bombing and Special Forces operating away from the cameras (these were focused on t-shirt and jean wearing youth brandishing AK-47s on pick up vans), Qaddaffi remains elusive and a wave of something resembling Salafism is already discernible. H.D.S. Greenway, in a superb piece, says: “Libyans will remember Qaddaffi differently in the chaos that is coming.”

Let us, then, move on to Baghdad – a shattering experience. I visited my favourite “mazgouf” joint which means fish from the Tigris grilled on open fire on the riverbank. It looked exactly what it was: a bombed hut. The fish is no longer from the Tigris but a nearby lake. A macabre incident ended that culture of eating. Human body parts were found in the stomach of the fish which, having lived for thousands of years on live bait, had become scavenger because of bodies floating down the river since the invasion.

Yes, we need our own reporters in every part of the globe otherwise the world will pass us by. Events will take place outside our ken.

(Saeed Naqvi is senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)

Royal miss: Many of Kerala temple’s treasures were stolen

Even after a judicial commission listed the lost valuables of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram in 2008, the temple administration headed by the Maharajah of Travancore, Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, never took action against the culprits.

The temple has been in the news lately after its vaults, opened on the orders of the Supreme Court, revealed treasures worth over Rs 1,00,000 crore. Only one last vault, vault A, remains to be opened as the Travancore Maharajah,  Uthradam Tirunal Marthanda Varma, the temple’s traditional custodian, objected to it saying the deity was not happy about it. He held a ritual called Devaprasnam to claim the vault should not be opened.

Firstpost revealed in an earlier story that the vaults had been opened before, despite claims to the contrary by the Maharaja. Fresh documents with Firstpost reveal that a Judicial commission appointed by the Principal Sub-Judge of Thiruvananthapuram also indicated that several valuables from the vaults had been lost or stolen.

The Commission submitted its findings to the court listing the missing valuables from the temple on 14 November 2008. Headed by Advocate Commissioner BR Shyam and V Suresh, the Commission visited the temple and opened the vaults where the golden and silver pooja utensils were kept.

The report lists the missing utensils at the temple. “Incidentally, it came to our notice  that in the item No 4 – Thankakuda, a golden umbrella with hanging tassels made of gold  and green stones, 14 green coloured stones were found broken. The hangings were attached to the umbrella by golden threads. Some of the golden threads  were found missing …”

“In item  No 5, Vellipidi Swarnakuda (golden umbrella with silver handle), and with hanging tassels of green stones covered with gold  attached to the umbrella by golden hooks, 44 golden hooks were missing and were replaced by copper or iron hooks. Three golden threads in the golden umbrella were also found missing. In Item No 15, two out of the four silver bells were found missing,” the judicial commission report revealed.

But when the Commission inquired about the missing valuables at the temple, the Executive Officer told them that he had only recently taken charge of the temple administration and was not aware about the missing valuables.

The Judicial Commission opened the temple vault in the presence of Executive Officer, the Treasurer, the palace representative Ravi Varma Raja, Advocate Balagovindan, Advocate Anandapadmanabhan,  Advocate Punchakkari Raveendran Nair, Advocate Vishwanathan Pillai, Appraiser Muthukrishnan and a few temple staff.

“Advocate Anandapadmanabhan and Advocate Balagovindan have requested us to take the sample weight of one item in each category. This request was strongly opposed by Punchakkari Raveendran Nair and palace representative Ravi Varma Raja stating that there is no specific order from the court for that purpose. The Executive Officer present was willing for weighing the valuables and conducting the purity test on the pooja utensils by the Judicial Commission. Since the parties objected (to) the weighing of valuables, we have decided to do so next time after getting specific orders from the court,” the commission report stated.

The Commission tried to weigh 11 precious valuables kept in a wooden box to ensure the security of the valuables, but the resistance of the royal family suggested that they may have been aware of the temple loot going on for years.

The Commission also found that one silver bell was missing from the list of pooja utensils handed over to the temple authorities on 19 October 2008.

The Judicial Commission also noted that “the golden and silver articles worth millions of rupees handed over to the temple authorities were not properly handled by the persons who are using them for the poojas”.

See documents….Commission Report

Despite the Commission’s report, the royal family failed to file a police complaint against the theft in the temple. This suggests that they were aware of the loss of valuables from the temple, but wanted to avoid police action and public glare.

Meanwhile, sleuths of the Archaeology Department of the government of India conducted raids at the farmhouse owned by Malayalam mega star Mohanlal in Lovedale in Udhagamandalam district in Tamil Nadu and seized 100-year-old gun sets and two golden statues.  The officials later found that the guns and golden statues were purchased from the Travancore Royal family.

The raid and the statements given by the actor revealed that the royal family has sold several antique valuables to many rich people. The sleuths have kept the golden statues and guns inside the room and sealed it. “Details about the antique objects and how the actor Mohanlal got this material will be probed.

Only after a detailed investigation we would come to know whether the golden statues belonged to the temple or not,” said a senior official who was part of the investigation team.

The court document also revealed that misappropriation of temple treasures didn’t bother the royal family too much. The royal family, in its affidavit submitted before the court, stated that “whatever is set apart by the earlier rulers is retained intact”.

The affidavit states that “The allegation that there is treasure hoard kept in some kallara (vaults) is denied. … The portions described as kallaras are not kallaras. The structure referred as items A and B in the plaint B schedules are rooms. They are not opened because they are not ordinarily required for the administration works. We have no desire to use them or open them. The entire area is covered with cobwebs and dust,”

While the royal family denied that vaults A and B were ever opened in their affidavit, the expert committee appointed by the Supreme Court found recent Godrej locks on vault A.  The circumstantial evidence reveals that the claims of the royal family that they have not opened vaults A and B for 136 years are probably false and misleading.

Though Ardeshir Burjorji Sorabji Godrej started lock manufacturing in 1897 May, it was his successors who branded the keys as Godrej. Hence it is improbable that Godrej locks were available 136 years ago.

In the affidavit, the Travancore Maharaja claims that Ottakal Mandapam was covered with gold after taking proper safeguards and denied misuse of temple treasures.  According to him, the gold taken from the temple was listed in the temple register on 18 December 2002 at 11.30 am.

But from the court proceedings it is clear that the royal family and the Maharaja of Travancore objected to the court making inventories of the treasure kept at the temple.

The Supreme Court had ordered the preparation of an inventory of the temple’s assets on a petition filed by a retired IPS officer, TP Sundararajan, who alleged that the descendents of the erstwhile Travancore royal family were mismanaging the temple properties.

When 70-year-old Sunderarajan died on 16 July this year due to fever, there was an attempt to project his death due to curse of God.

(This post was first published on Firstpost on September 15, 2011)

Omita Paul, SEBI, and RIL’s 2000 crore stock market scam

Reports in the media recently has pointed towards a battle in the country’s financial regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

K M Abraham, a whole time member of SEBI wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office and leveled serious allegations against Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, his advisor Omita Paul and the regulator’s chairman U K Sinha.

Abraham, in a letter on June 1, has alleged that “the finance minister and his advisor pressurized the SEBI chairman to manage some high-profile corporate cases,” the Indian Express reported.

Now, a complaint filed with the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) on September 10, 2011 confirms Abraham’s allegations.

The complaint is filed against Smt Omita Paul, Special Adviser & Secretary, Ministry of Finance; (2) Sri U K Sinha, Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI); and (3) Sri Mukesh D. Ambani, Chairman & Managing Director, Reliance Industries Ltd. The complainant has alleged that all of them are engaged in a crime in progress to deprive the exchequer of Rs 2000 crores.

The complainant had earlier complained (CVC ref no: 416/09/02) about the 2G scam showing how Anil Ambani had transferred Swan Telecom as a bribe on the day he was given the GSM license in Reliance Communication. The complaint has been annexed in the pending PIL petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

According to the complainant, “the complaint relates to the mala fide manipulation of appointments to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to the demonstrable benefit of Reliance Industries Ltd (Sri Mukesh Ambani) by over Rs. 2000 crores in the pending Fraudulent and Unfair Trading case before SEBI in which the company is liable to pay a penalty of up to Rs. 1539 crores along with the disgorgement of profit of Rs. 513 crores..”

EXCERPTS FROM THE COMPLAINT LETTER (Reproduced with permission of the complainant)

The facts of the scam/fraud:

The following facts relate to violation under Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices Regulations, relating to RIL and its subsidiary,

  • In November 2007, the company secured an illegal gain of Rs. 513 crores. Under the law, RIL was liable for a penalty of three times the gain — that is, Rs. 1539 crores – and the disgorgement of its profit of Rs 513 crores, taking the total amount to Rs. 2056 crores. Factoring in interest, this amount would increase by another Rs. 200 -500 crores. More importantly, the violation could also entail criminal prosecution under IPC punishable with seven years imprisonment as unsuspecting g investors had been defrauded/cheated of Rs. 513 crores.
  • A clean (or, more accurately, dirty) profit of Rs. 513 crores earned unlawfully in five days by shorting the market on the basis of information not available to investors is most impressive, even by the standards set by Reliance. It bears noting here that  Rs. 7.85 crores shares were sold for Rs. 210 were the very same shares allotted for Rs. 10 a year back and that they earned a 20-fold profit (approximately Rs. 1400 crores) to the promoters of RIL in less than a year. In addition, it is relevant to note that RIL had the guts to indulge in this fraudulent practice in 2007, when SEBI had been around for 15 years, speaks volumes of their complete confidence in the support of the present political dispensation which, incidentally, is almost identical to that of 1983 when Fiasco and Crocodile Investment were used as benami foreign fronts by Reliance to bring in money through Channel Islands. RIL’s confidence is justified: At that time, a leading English newspaper had screamed “Pranab Mukerjee: Minister of Finance or Reliance?” This time around, there has been pin drop silence.

The details of the fraudulent trade:

In the show cause notice to RIL, SEBI had stated that  that between Nov 1-5, 2007, some 12 entities acting on behalf of Reliance Industries had created short position of around Rs. 7.65 crore shares at Rs. 290 per share.

The market watchdog had then gone on to state that the 12 entities had sold the Reliance Petroleum shares heavily in the cash market, amounting to 4.01 percent of the company’s equity, and depressed the price to around Rs. 210.

“By artificially depressing the price in the cash market and thereby lowering the settlement price of the futures on expiry, Reliance Industries gained on its short positions in the derivatives market,” the SEBI notice had said.

It had added: “The whole manipulative operation was arranged by Reliance Industries and it was aided by the 12 related entities. Reliance Industries earned Rs. 513 crore by indulging in these manipulative activities.”

As all with even an elementary knowledge of the capital market in India know only too well, this manipulative and fraudulent transaction was the standard operating procedure for the company in the badla days of the eighties. A group of promoter companies would take short-positions in Reliance Petroleum in the futures market with the prior knowledge that the promoters would sell large quantity of shares in the cash market. In short, they knew the market price would fall when Reliance Petro shares were sold, and that they would be able to make money with this prior knowledge by selling in the futures market. This practice, repeated at regular intervals, was and is in egregious violation of the Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The matter came into the limelight when it was raised in the Parliament and with SEBI in August 2008 by none other than Sri Amar Singh. Unfortunately for RIL, by then the new SEBI chief, Sri C B Bhave, a no-nonsense officer, had taken over. He had immediately ordered an investigation which had resulted in the finding of the Rs. 513 crores in  illegal profit and the issuance of a a show cause  notice  to the company in May, 2009.

The company had been charged under Prevention of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices Regulations Section 15HA of SEBI Act which states:

15HA – Penalty for fraudulent and unfair trade practices: If any person indulges in fraudulent and unfair trade practices relating to securities, he shall be liable to a penalty of twenty-five crore rupees or three times the amount of profits made out of such practices, whichever is higher..

The penalty would be three times the profit, that is Rs. 1539 crores. As the fraud was committed knowingly by a company having the largest market capitalization, the penalty should have been the maximum under the law. This was more so to instill the confidence of the Foreign Institutional Investors  that the Regulator does not surrender before corporates enjoying politic patronage but has the will to discipline the largest and the most influential company listed on the market. There was hardly any scope for leniency, given the nature of the crime.

Faced with the daunting prospect of losing Rs. 2056 crores and inability to influence the  honest and competent officers at SEBI, a long term conspiracy was hatched between RIL and  the Finance Ministry.

The strategy was simple and time tested. Reliance would delay the matter at SEBI for two years during which years certain key officers in SEBI, would complete their tenure – the chairman, whole time directors and three executive directors. The Finance Ministry, on its part, would ensure that the officers were not given an extension. A pliant and obliging SEBI chief would be installed and the case against RIL would be compromised for a token amount.

Smt. Omita Paul whose only qualification (MSC chemistry, M Phil social science and BA Journalism, retired from Indian  Information service) )  to the high office of Adviser with the rank of  Secretary, is her proximity to the Finance Minister, was the point person in the Finance Ministry.

She was to ensure that Bhave would not get an extension, and would be replaced by a pliant and friendly successor. Other senior officers like Dr Abraham and Mr Sahoo (whole time members) who had performed  commendably and would not agree to the compromise  too would not be given an extension.

As a first step towards the objective of removing the key officers, Smt Omita Paul refused to put up the file for the approval of the Cabinet for extension of tenure of Bhave by two years by stating that it was premature, even after it had been approved earlier by the Finance Minister after obtaining the consent of Mr Bhave for the extension. Similar consent of the two whole time members of the Board  including Dr Abraham had been obtained.

Incidentally the decision to call back the file was contemporaneous with the thorough investigation/ inquiry done by SEBI into the illegal trading in RIL shares resulting in an illegal profit of  Rs. 513 crores.

Subsequently, Smt Omita Paul changed the composition of the selection panel for the selection of SEBI Chairman by introducing more members from the Finance Ministry to ensure that Sri C B Bhave was not appointed and that her candidate, the amiable and obliging Sri U K Sinha was selected.

A headline in The Indian Express edition of 23/4/10, is produced below:

After FM cleared Bhave extension, advisor stepped in to roll it back: Records available with The Indian Express reveal that more than a year before his term was to end, Sri Bhave had been cleared for an extension in office of another two years by the Finance Minister, Sri Pranab Mukherjee. This, after he had asked for — and obtained — a positive recommendation from then Finance Secretary, Sri Ashok Chawla, on Sri Bhave’s performance.

But after the Finance Ministry formally wrote to Bhave seeking his consent, Sri Bhave sent a letter to Sri Chawla, affirming that he was willing to accept a two-year extension.

Things were proceeding smoothly — until Smt Omita Paul did what she had been mandated to do by the Finance Minister.

It was her note suggesting that no action was needed so early, records show, which was the tipping point. Sri Pranab Mukherjee lost no time in putting on hold the process for eight months. The Finance Ministry called back the proposal on tenure extension sent to the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet in January 2010.….

When contacted, Smt Paul said she would not like to comment..

Presumably, she did not want to comment about the  ouster of Sri Bhave and her role in the appointment of her protégé U K Sinha as also in ensuring that Dr Abraham too did not get an extension/reappointment. Dr Abraham too had to agree to any consent order (explained in detail below) to be passed in the case against  RIL.

The active involvement of Omita Paul in preventing the then SEBI chief from getting an extension is proof of  her involvement in the conspiracy.

RIL, on its part, had to merely drag its feet to help Smt Omita Paul to oust two key officers who would not compromise their integrity in handing an order to RIL.

Consent Order:

Consent order is a parachute to bail out large corporates from financial crimes. While an ordinary man, if caught in a fraud of ten thousand rupees will be jailed, the super rich, for a stock market fraud of Rs. 500 crores, can buy his way out by a device borrowed from the west known as consent terms. It is an agreement between the offender (RIL) and the regulator (SEBI) by which the company does not admit to the guilt but agrees to pay a certain amount and SEBI in turn agrees not to prosecute the offender or pronounce him guilty, if the mutually agreed amount is paid. It is the price paid by the company for not admitting the guilt and also not being prosecuted under criminal law!

Consent order is resorted to only when the evidence is weak and there is a doubt that the case may not stand in a Court of law. However, when the case is backed by foolproof evidence (though in law nothing is foolproof) there is no question of the Authority agreeing to consent terms .Full penalty is levied. RIL fell in this category.

RIL is the largest company of the country by market capitalization (Coal India overtook it recently). Though a good part lot of the promoters’ wealth has been earned on the Stock market, (the legal Rs. 1400 crores and the illegal Rs. 500 crores mentioned above is an example) they cannot afford the stigma of being caught on a violation of Insider Trading/ Prevention of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices Regulations. The financial consequences would be grave and immediate. It would lead to their being automatically blacklisted the world over by fund managers and their capacity to raise capital would be diminished.

It is the accused party that has to apply for consent orders and to initiate proceedings for such an order, a lengthy process.

However, in the case of RIL, it is  the company that decides the law that would apply to it and the amount it would pay to hush things up through a consent order. There is no question of finding the company guilty.  If officers like Sri Bhave and Dr Abraham insisted on coming in the way of Reliance, then Smt Omita Paul, her boss, or other dubious individuals in government would steamroller them aside.

While Mrs Paul was taking care of the non-renewal of Sri Bhave’s term ,  RIL was doing its little bit to prolong the decision-making beyond Sri Bhave’s term by filing for a consent order and by offering to pay  Rs. 2 crores in November, 2009, knowing fully well that it would be rejected but the process would consume time.

When that was predictably rejected, Reliance file another application for a consent order in August, 2010, this time it for a princely sum of Rs. 8 crores  or  400% more than the previous offer but 0.5% of the Rs. 2056 crores.

These two ridiculously low offers of Rs 2 crores and Rs. 8 crores (as against a total amount of Rs. 2056 crores gain through fraud of Rs. 513 crores, plus penalty of Rs.1539 crores) are in themselves proof that a deal had been struck between RIL and Omita Paul After she had  replaced the existing Chairman, the new Chairman would ensure that the penalty does not exceed Rs. 50 crores. It was for this reason alone that RIL offered the meager amount so that it could negotiate from a low base of Rs. 8 crores. It would make perfect business sense to spend Rs. 50 crores in consent order, Rs. 100 crores in bribes/donations (or much less), and pocket Rs. 1900 crores. That way RIl would be able to pocket Rs. 350 of the illegal/ fraud money!

These offers too had to be rejected, again involving a drawn-out process which would give Smt Omita Paul time to oust Sri Bhave through behind- the-scenes manipulations and to install her very civil servant, Sri Sinha.

With Sri Sinha  duly installed in office, it was expected that things would move smoothly. Reliance would come back with another settlement for a consent order at Rs. 15 crores and the matter would be closed at Rs. 50 or even Rs. 100 crores. RIL would save about Rs. 1900 crores — and ensure that it would be immune from prosecution on that particular transaction for all time.

Predictably enough, another consent order was filed after Sri Sinha planted himself in the SEBI chairman’s office in May 2011. The amount offered is not known.

As anticipated, the obliging Sri Sinha, made it his highest priority to deliver the RIL consent order. After all, the company (and the Finance Minister) had waited long enough.

In his letter to the Finance Ministry in response to the accusation of Dr Abraham that Sri U K Sinha had tried to influence him on various vital cases, he wrote with remarkable sagacity and somewhat less clarity:

Consent is another area where there is prevailing perception that it is subjective, provides escape route to offenders and quality of orders is not high and is not transparent.. While I have publicly defended the decision of consent proceedings which are legal and as per law and is practiced in many advance jurisdictions, I do feel that there is need to bring in uniformity and consistency. All these efforts on my part may not have gone well with everybody in the organization but by and large the officers have appreciated my commitment and drive to improve the system in SEBI. I advised the executives to have more clarity on when consent orders can be passed, how to improve the quality of orders, how to improve the drafting and to provide training to the officers so that the quality of their orders can improve. I presume that these are efforts to improve systems and procedures within SEBI and are my legitimate responsibility and cannot be counted as interfering or influencing the investigation or the quasi – judicial responsibilities of a delegated authority.

Before my joining, SEBI had passed consent orders in January 2011 against Reliance ADAG entity imposing settlement charges and restraint. It was in this background that when briefs were put up regarding Reliance Industries Ltd, I discussed the background of how and in what manner the settlement amount was arrived at in the ADAG case and whether any consent petition has been filed in RIL case or not. Except for the brief that came to me through Dr Abraham, I have not seen any file, passed any orders or given any directions to any employee. The matter is still with the WTM and to the best of my knowledge no decision has been taken so far.

The plain truth is that Sri Sinha has not written a single order in his life on regulatory issues. Though he may have concerns as SEBI chief, he simply does not have proven expertise in drafting or passing quality orders. On the other hand, there are a large number of articles available in the public domain in which orders passed by SEBI during the tenure of Sri Bhave have been hailed as well reasoned and quality orders.

If Sri Sinha was so concerned about transparency as he purports to be, he should have ordered that all consent orders along with the charges and the investigative report be posted on the internet.

Further if he believes that consent orders provided an escape route to the offender, it was his bounden duty to pass orders that no consent order would be passed in cases where there was sufficient evidence against the offender. This would be upholding public policy. Consent orders are resorted to only where there is insufficient evidence.

It is also not true that consent terms are offered to offenders in advance jurisdiction and Sinha may not have heard of Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Martha Steward and our own Rajirathanam. He may really not have heard of them or he may be faking ignorance. All of them would have agreed to a consent order!

The very fact that he clubbed ADAG consent order with that of RIL pending application (in the letter mentioned above) shows his anxiety to deliver on the deal between RIL and Smt Omita Paul. Dr Abraham was a whole time member and not a subordinate of Sri Sinha. Could the Chief Justice have similar discussions with his brother judges?

The fact of the matter is that, in the consent order relating to ADAG, no profit was made and yet it was made to pay Rs. 25 crores in each of the two companies that diverted the funds to the capital market! RIL, on the other hand, had made illegal profits Rs. 513 crores and SEBI should not have provided the “escape route to the offender” and should have been fined it Rs. 1539 crores along with interest.

In fact, the two paragraphs quoted above from the correspondence of Sri Sinha to the Finance Ministry show that his overwhelming concern was that liberal consent terms be offered to RIL — and not that an ‘escape route’ to the offender should be denied.

It was logical for Mr Sinha to try and get Dr Abraham to clear the consent terms before he demitted office and not by a successor chosen by him/his mentor (Smt Omita Paul), so that  the stink of the scam would not affect him or his mentor in the Finance Ministry later on!

The importance of this complaint lies in the fact that it has been filed even as a crime is in progress. Unlike most complaints, it has been filed before the crime has been completed and injury done. If acted upon, injury can be prevented. If ignored, injury will result.

Thus, it is important that immediate action is taken against the erring conspirators to prevent the impending loss of Rs. 2000 crores to the exchequer. In case the consent terms are agreed to there will be absolutely no future possibility of recovering the loss to the exchequer. The protagonist will claim that the decision was taken by common consensus by various officers as has been the case in the various scams in the public domain.

It is essential that the following preventive steps are taken to avert the loss:

  • The investigative report and the show cause notice be put in public domain so that there is no doubt that the Rs. 513 crores of illegal profit was due to fraudulent and unfair trade practice and that the case is on a sound footing.
  • SEBI is prevented from entering into consent term with RIL.
  • Policy decision taken that consent terms will not be entertained in cases where there is strong evidence to prove the violation of law. In fact that is the public policy.
  • Penalty of three times the profit is levied. It must be remembered the company made a profit of Rs. 1400 crores on sale of shares in addition to the Rs. 513 crores of illegal profit.
  • SEBI should ensure that the disgorged amount of Rs. 513 crores is distributed to investors who were defrauded.
  • Action be taken against the persons in conspiracy to displace officers of integrity in order to make the deal with RIL possible.

The complainant has also alleged that the SEBI Chairman deliberately leaked his response to the Finance Ministry on Dr Abraham’s letter.

The letter states:

“The Chairman also ensured the exit of three Executive Directors while it is SEBI Board which decides on the appointment and extension of tenure of EDs. The minutes of the Board meeting show that no decision was taken by the Board but it was decided by the Chairman to issue fresh advertisements and that the existing members would have to apply afresh. It is learnt that the Board was deliberately misled by the Chairman. It was not surprising that three of the Executive Directors who had performed admirably chose not to apply and serve under Sri Sinha. By this clever manipulation, three experienced and competent senior officers who are men of high caliber and who worked for SEBI on a salary cut have been lost to the cause of public service as they were denied the job satisfaction of serving under an honest dispensation. Competent and honest people are rare and are not to be insulted by making them re-apply for a post along with others – at least, not by an honest government.”

The letter concludes by requesting the CVC to prevent the scam.