IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 128 OF 2015
PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION
In the matter of:
Centre for Public Interest Litigation …Petitioner
The Union of India & Ors …Respondents
ADDITIONAL AFFIDAVIT ON BEHALF OF THE PETITIONER
I, Kamini Jaiswal, D/o Shri R S Jaiswal, General Secretary of the Petitioner, having its office at 43, Lawyer’s Chambers, Supreme Court, New Delhi-110 001 do hereby solemnly affirm and state on oath as under:
- That I am the General Secretary of Centre for Public Interest Litigation. I am fully conversant with the facts and circumstances of the case, and competent and authorised to swear this affidavit.
- The petitioner has filed the above writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution for the enforcement of Rights under Article 14 and 21 of the citizens. This petition has sought a court-monitored investigation by an SIT or the CBI into the high level of political-bureaucratic-corporate nexus wherein corporates use their money power to change public policies, plant questions in Parliament, get access to internal government documents/cabinet papers, grant favours to politicians and bureaucrats for receiving benefits in return, and plant stories in news media. The basis of the petition is internal emails and documents from Essar Group of Companies which is one of India’s leading business conglomerate having multi-billion dollar investments in oil, steel, energy, ports, shipping, infrastructure and services sectors in India.
- Pursuant to the filing of the petition, the petitioner has come in possession of several other internal emails and documents from Essar Group which further substantiate the averments in the petition and make an even stronger & urgent case for a thorough investigation. These emails and documents have been received by the counsel for the petitioner from the same reliable source, who had given them the documents annexed to the writ petition. In the petition itself, the petitioner had in paragraph 37 of the petition, had requested for liberty to bring on record other documents when they become available to the petitioner. The documents now being brought on record, vide this additional affidavit, show high level of political-bureaucratic-corporate nexus which harms public interest, violates rights of the citizens and corrodes the rule of law.
Joint Secretary (Ministry of Steel) and Essar
- Shri Syedain Abbasi is a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Steel. He is also currently one of the Directors of NMDC. As Joint Secretary, he had official dealing with the Essar Group. The emails from Essar prima facie show that he, using his official position, strongly pushed for Essar’s business interests within the Government. A letter dated 02.11.2012 written by him to the Ministry of Road & Transport requesting for speedy clearances for Essar is annexed as Annexure P40 (Pg _____________). In it he writes: “I shall be grateful if you could please look into their request and expedite their application for RoU/RoW & other statutory clearances so that the Company could start work on the new slurry pipeline project early.” In another letter dated 20.02.2013 written to the Chief Secretary of the State of Chhattisgarh, he strongly pushed for Essar’s interests regarding the same project. The said letter dated 20.02.2013 is annexed as Annexure P41 (Pg _____________).
- Mr. Abbasi was apparently given free accommodation by Essar during the month of June 2013. From an email dated 14.06.2013, it is clear that two rooms were allotted to Mr. Abbasi by the Essar Group in their Delhi guest house for 7 days, i.e. from 20.06.2013 to 26.06.2013. A copy of the email exchange dated 14.06.2013 is annexed as Annexure P42 (Pg _____________).
- An email dated 10.07.2013 shows how Essar’s officers were in regular touch with Mr. Abassi who was not only supporting their interests in the Steel Ministry but also informing Essar about the internal deliberations in the Steel Ministry. The email sent by Essar’s Mr. Rajamani Krishnamurti reads: “Met Mr. S Abbasi, Joint Secretary today and discussed various issues pertaining to steel sector. One of the issues discussed was the waiver of import duty on LNG. He mentioned candidly that the Minister directed him to strike out this request… He has agreed to put up this issue once again to the Secretary, but according to him no action will be taken unless and until the minister gives his concurrence. He suggested that we could meet the minister…” A copy of the said email is annexed as Annexure P43 (Pg _____________).
- Another email sent by Mr. Krishnamurthi shows that after Essar’s requests, Mr. Abbasi agreed to visit their Hazira plan during the month of July 2013. A copy of the said mail dated 10.07.2013 is annexed as Annexure P44 (Pg _____________). In yet another email exchange, Mr. Abassi agreed with Essar’s request to host him at their Hazira facility and also in Mumbai in November 2013. A copy of the said email exchange dated 14.11.2013 is annexed as Annexure P45 (Pg _____________).
- Another email dated 09.01.2014 again shows how Mr. Abassi was sharing all internal deliberations in the Steel Ministry with the Essar Group, pushing Essar’s business interests and advising Essar how to pursue its projects. Mr. Krishnamurit states: “This refers to the discussion I had with Mr. S Abbasi… He was mentioning informally that MoS is preparing a Cabinet Note highlighting the issues faced by the Indian Steel Industry. I had requested him to include our gas and captive iron ore issue. He said if we could write a formal letter addressed to Secretary Steel… He also asked us to make a very strong representation against the move initiated by Ministry of Mines to auction iron ore in Odisha Sector…” A copy of the said email dated 09.01.2014 is annexed as Annexure P46 (Pg _____________).
Finance Minister and Essar
- Essar had a major stake in Mahan coal block (now the allocation of the same has been cancelled by this Hon’ble Court in the coal scam case). They were actively pursuing for its clearances. A Group of Ministers (GOM) was constituted by the UPA Government for a review of its clearances. An SMS forwarded by Essar’s Mr. Prashant Ruia to Mr. Sunil Bajaj shows the effort Essar was making to pursue its case with the GOM. It reads: “I have requested the PS to Finance Minister to fix the date for GOM at the earliest. He has agreed for that.” A copy of the email dated 09.02.2012 forwarding the SMS is annexed as Annexure P47 (Pg _____________).
- 10. An email dated 01.05.2012 shows that Essar was in touch with the then Finance Minister. Mr. Sunil Bajaj wrote that he met the then Finance Minister for an early date for the GOM. The Finance Minister showed his “annoyance” that his request to appoint Mr. Santosh Reddy in the Group has not yet been implemented, according to the said email. He therefore requests for approval of the appointment of Mr. Reddy. Mr. Bajaj writes: “I met FM again & requested him to give an early date for GOM on Mahan… he has given me a resume of Mr. Santosh Reddy to absorb him suitably in the group. He has shown his annoyance that Mr. Reddy has not been recruited so far.” A copy of the email exchange dated 01.05.2012 is annexed as Annexure P48 (Pg _____________).
11. The very next day, i.e. on 02.05.2012 offer letter to Mr. Santosh Reddy is approved with an income of Rs 12 lakh per annum asking him to join on 07.05.2012. A copy of the email exchange dated 02.05.2012 is annexed as Annexure P49 (Pg _____________). This shows how major corporate groups like Essar bestow favours on senior ministers for getting benefits in return, including on issues concerning natural resources like coal which are pending before a high level group of Union Ministers.
Ministry of Petroleum and Essar
12. A series of email shows the influence Essar carried in the Ministry of Petroleum under its then Minister Mr. Veerappa Moily and his Secretary Mr. Sanjiv Kumar, and also that they had easy access to the Minister who apparently favoured them while framing public policies. On an issue concerning import duty on petroleum products, Mr. Naresh Nayyar of Essar Oil writes to Mr. Prashant Ruia on 22.02.2013 indicates that Essar should use its influence to stop the levy. Next day, Mr. Ruia writes to Mr. Bajaj: “..call me on this. We need to stop this.” To this Mr. Bajaj replies: “Will call in morning Prashant ji, will meet Moily ji and connect you also.” A copy of the said email exchange dated 23.02.2013 is annexed as Annexure P50 (Pg _____________).
13. In another email, Mr. Nayyar writes to Mr. Ruia on 28.03.2013 that proposal of gas pricing as recommended by Rangarajan committee has been recommended for the apporval of the Minister. To this, Mr. Ruia responds that he should meet Mr. Moily and ask him to intervene. A copy of the email exchange dated 28.03.2013 is annexed as Annexure P51 (Pg _____________). In another email, Mr. Ruia writes on 17.05.2013 that he and Mr. Bajaj met the Minister on the issue of petroleum pricing. He asks Essar’s Mr. Iftikhar Nasir to meet the Minister and the Petroleum Secretary “to ensure the letter MoPNG releases is to our satisfaction.” A copy of the said email dated 17.05.2013 is annexed as Annexure P52 (Pg _____________).
14. On 31.05.2013, Essar’s Mr. V. Ramachandran writes: “Based on the recent developments on the Ratna issue, Mr. Bajaj had set up a meeting with the Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas. I met Mr. Moily & informed him that the note being prepared by the Ministry is one sided & not based on facts. I also told him, there is no mention of AG’s opinion & also the letter that we submitted last year conveying our acceptance for the cess & royalty at current rates. Mr. Moily was convinced with my argument & asked his PS to send a strong note from the Minister’s side to the Secy to take a decision on Ratna within 7-10 days. Mr. Moily also suggested that, we write another letter addressed to the Secy with a copy to him stating that cess & royalty at current rates are acceptable to us. Copy of the letter as suggested by Mr. Moily is attached for your perusal. Letter has been delivered today to the Secy & Minister’s office.” A copy of the said email is annexed as Annexure P53 (Pg _____________).
15. In an apparent instance of quid pro quo Mr. Bajaj writes that Mr. Sanjiv Kumar, private secretary to the Petroleum Minister has requested for recruitment of his nephew in the group. He writes: “Mr. Sanjeev Kumar Private Secretary to Minister MOPNG has requested for recruitment of his own nephew… You are requested to kindly grant your approval for doing the needful.” A copy of the aforesaid email dated 12.07.2013 is annexed as Annexure P54 (Pg ____________).
16. On a letter that is being drafted by Essar to be sent to the Petroleum Ministry, Mr. Ruia suggests that Mr. Bajaj should first discuss the draft letter with Mr. Moily’s secretary Mr. Sanjiv Kumar (who had earlier asked for his nephew to be appointed in Essar), to take his inputs and only then file it with the Ministry. A copy of the email exchange dated 13.07.2013 along with a copy of the Essar’s draft letter is annexed as Annexure P55 (Pg _____________).
17. In another email, Mr. Bajaj writes to Mr. Ruia that “Dr. Veerappa Moily ji has given me a letter from a person from his constituency for cancellation of lease deed agreement for Essar Petrol Pump. The person concerned is very influential keeping the vote politics in view, therefore, he insisted his work should be done immediately. Submitted for your kind approval to the concerned officer.” A copy of the said email dated 22.08.2013 is annexed as Annexure P56 (Pg _____________).
Favours to politicians, bureaucrats
18. Essar’s internal emails of the year 2012 show that it had used its money power to cultivate influence over a large number of politicians and bureaucrats across the country. Some of them were obliged by Essar on its own, while some asked Essar for petty favours like accommodation and transportation. All of them show an unhealthy and unethical nexus between public servants and corporate interests. The following emails are being annexed in chronological order, and not in the order of importance.
- 19. Essar’s Col. Arafat writes on 10.01.2012 that the Director of the MoEF and Member Secretary EAC has been discharged from hospital, so a fruit basket may be personally delivered to him, and the same is arranged. A copy of email dated 10.01.2012 is annexed as Annexure P57 (Pg _____________). Col. Arafat on 18.02.2012 writes that the mother of Deputy Director in MoEF has had an operation, hence a car was arranged for her. A copy of the email exchange dated 18.02.2012 is annexed as Annexure P58 (Pg _____________). Col. Arafat on 23.02.2012 writes that the Chairman of Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the MoEF is reaching Delhi, so a car may be kept at his disposal for 4 days from 26.02.2012 to 29.02.2012, which is then arranged by Essar. A copy of the email exchange dated 23.02.2012 is annexed as Annexure P59 (Pg _____________). On 27.02.2012, he writes that a Member of EAC has requested for a guest house which may be arranged. He also says that a car be also arranged. A copy of the email exchange dated 27.02.2012 is annexed as Annexure P60 (Pg _____________).
- 20. Essar’s Mr. Rajamani Krishnamurti writes on 01.03.2012 that former Chief Secretary and Advisor to the Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh is coming to Delhi for a few days for a personal visit. Hence “you are requested to arrange accommodation (superior room) in South Extn Guest House and a transport (Corolla & above) at the airport till his departure.” The same is accordingly arranged. A copy of the email exchange dated 01.03.2012 is annexed as Annexure P61 (Pg _____________). Mr. Krishnamurti writes on 14.03.2012 that senior Congress party leader from Chhattisgarh Mr. Mahendra Karma (who strongly supported the anti-Naxal salwa judum movement, now expired) is coming to Delhi along with his wife and three other Congress leaders. Mr. Krishnamurthi states that accommodation and vehicles may be arranged for these leaders for two days during their stay in Delhi. A copy of the said email dated 14.03.2012 is annexed as Annexure P62 (Pg _____________).
- 21. Essar’s P Mohanty writes on 24.03.2012 that the Labour Commissioner of Odisha has requested to provide an accommodation for his son in Delhi for a period of one month. He says that this officer has been helpful to Essar is resolving labour issues in their units in Odisha. This request his forwarded by Mr. Krishnamurti on 27.03.2012. A copy of this email exchange dated 27.03.2012 is annexed as Annexure P63 (Pg _____________).
- 22. Essar’s Pradeep Saxena writes on 19.04.2012: “As directed by you, I am in touch with Mr. Sandeep Saini regarding police case file by Ghaziabad Firm regarding some payment and delivery of material to Admin deptt. I advised him since he has committed to the Police Inspector (Investigating Officer) to oblige him a very petty amount and on that basis the police inspector drafted a counter letter to Ghaziabad Party on our behalf and favoured us even out of way. Now he feels cheated by Aegis, which any body will fee. However after that commitment is fulfilled from our side, I shall be meeting SP/ASP.” A copy of the said email dated 19.04.2012 is annexed as Annexure P64 (Pg _____________).
23. Col. Arafat writes on 26.04.2012, that Advisor of MoEF has requested for a car from pick and drop at airport and therefore a Honda City may be arranged for him. A copy of this email dated 26.04.2012 is annexed as Annexure P65 (Pg _____________). Essar’s Mr. Neeraj Mishra writes on 27.04.2012 that the ADM of Bhopal is in Delhi and hence a car be aranged for him. A copy of the email exchange dated 27.04.2012 is annexed as Annexure P66 (Pg _____________). Col. Arafat on 17.05.2012 writes that the Chairman of the EAC of MoEF is in Delhi for 5 days from 21.05.2012 to 25.05.2012 and has requested for a vehicle, and the same is approved. A copy of the email exchange dated 17.05.2012 is annexed as Annexure P67 (Pg _____________). Essar’s Madhaw Anand writes on 15.06.2012 that IFS officer and Deputy Chief of Mission in Indian Embassy in Zimbabwe is coming to Delhi and hence a car be arranged for him. A copy of email dated 15.06.2012 is annexed as Annexure P68 (Pg _____________).
24. On 19.07.2012, Essar’s Mr. Alok Chauhan wrote: “As per advise of Sh. Sunil Bajaj ji, would like to apprise you that yesterday he met Mr. Akhilesh Yadav, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and had a detailed discussion on issues pending with the Mines & Mineral Department of Govt of Uttar Pradesh pertaining to availability of Stone Quarry for our Lucknow-Sultanpur NHAI Project. The Chief Minister has assured all possible support in the matter and have asked us to file a formal application with concerned department, so the same may be processed for prompt approvals.” A copy of this email dated 19.07.2012 is annexed as Annexure P69 (Pg _____________).
25. An email exchange dated 24.07.2012 indicates that Essar arranged for travel between Kolkata & Delhi, meals and possibly accommodation of 6 senior leaders of Trinamool Congress. A copy of the said email exchange dated 24.07.2012 is annexed as Annexure P70 (Pg _____________). Another email of the said date shows that Essar arranged for a business class Jet Airways flight ticket of one of those persons from Delhi to Mumbai, one suite room at Hyatt hotel and a luxury car. A copy of the said email dated 24.07.2012 is annexed as Annexure P71 (Pg _____________).
26. On 25.07.2012, Essar’s Sanjeev Anand writes that a Honda City car be arranged for the Officer on Special Duty to the Power Minister of Govt of Madhya Pradesh. A copy of this email dated 25.07.2012 is annexed as Annexure P72 (Pg _____________). Col. Arafaat on 18.09.2012 writes that the CCF and Nodal Officer of Raipur is coming to Delhi and therefore accommodation be arranged for him in South Extension Guest House. A copy of the said email exchange dated 18.09.2012 is annexed as Annexure P73 (Pg _____________).
27. Essar’s Col. Araafat on 25.09.2012 states that the Director of MoEF has requested for accommodation for 4 days from 19th to 22nd October, and the same is then arranged. A copy of the said email exchange dated 25.09.2012 is annexed as Annexure P74 (Pg _____________). Essar apparently also arranges an air ticket from Delhi to Varanasi for a Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh. A copy of the email dated 11.10.2012 sent by Mr. Alok Chauhan is annexed as Annexure P75 (Pg _____________).
28. The petitioner in the writ petition had shown that Essar was allegedly planting questions in Parliament, especially on the issue of NMDC’s pricing policy which was hurting their business interest. Another email dated 11.05.2012 sent by Essar’s Mr. Krishnamurti shows that not just planting questions, Essar was also getting MPs to write letters to the Prime Minister. The email reads: “Please find attached the draft copy of the letter that I have handed over to Mr. Soumen Mitra today morning, which he will be writing to the Prime Minister.” A copy of this email dated 11.05.2012 is annexed as Annexure P76 (Pg _____________) and a copy of letter sent by Mr. Mitra to the Prime Minister dated 15.05.2012 is annexed as Annexure P77 (Pg _____________). Subsequently Mr. Krishnamurti writes: “Please find attached the copy of the letter by Mr. Soumen Mitra, MP (Lok Sabha) to the Prime Minister regarding NMDC.” A copy of the email dated 16.05.2012 is annexed as Annexure P78 (Pg _____________).
Leaking of Government documents
29. Recently, CBI registered FIR into the leaking of sensitive government documents to corporates and arrested several persons. Essar was reportedly one of the beneficiary companies of the leaking of confidential government documents. A series of emails of Essar group also substantiate that Essar had easy access to government deliberations. The same are being annexed herein in chronological order.
30. On 01.03.2012, Essar’s Mr. Sanjeev Anand writes: “Principal Secy to PM will hold a meeting on March 05 and March 06, 2012 on the issues relating to Coal Based Power Projects and Gas Based Power Projects… Copy of meeting notice is enclosed for your reference.” On 07.03.2012, he further writes: “…enclosed please find details of replies prepared by MoPNG and Min of Power…” On 14.03.2012, he states: “…enclosed please find copy of Record of Discussions in the meeting taken by Principal Secy to PM… Further follow up meeting in this matter will be held on March 16, 2012 in PMO. Also enclosed is the draft note prepared by MoP… Same is still under finalisation.” A copy of this email exchange dated 14.03.2012 is annexed as Annexure P79 (Pg _____________). A copy of the record of discussion along with list of participants dated 06.03.2012 is annexed as Annexure P80 (Pg _____________) and a copy of the notice put out by PMO dated 12.03.2012 is annexed as Annexure P81 (Pg _____________). Both the above annexures are taken from attachments in the emails sent by Essar’s Mr. Anand.
31. Essar’s Mr. Anand wrote on 11.04.2012: “Enclosed please find copy of communication which MoP has sent to Min. of Coal requesting them to advise Coal India to supply coal to thermal power stations…” A copy of this email dated 11.04.2012 is annexed as Annexure P82 (Pg _____________) and copy of the attached Office Memorandum dated 09.04.2012 is annexed as Annexure P83 (Pg ___________).
32. On 08.06.2012, Mr. Krishnamurti sources the minutes of the Group of Ministers (GOM) meeting held on 30.05.2012 on issues concerning coal mining and he forwards the same to Essar’s Mr. Ruia and Mr. Bajaj. A copy of the GOM minutes dated 30.05.2012 are annexed as Annexure P84 (Pg ______________) and the email dated 08.06.2012 is annexed as Annexure P85 (Pg ______________). Another email exchange between Essar management shows that they were in regular touch with the Union Ministers, which is why they had easy access to internal Government information. A copy of the said email exchange dated 12.01.2013 is annexed as Annexure P86 (Pg ______________).
33. Essar’s Mr. Deepak Mukherji wrote an email on 19.07.2013 stating: “I write to share the attached draft note of the Ministry of Power that Sanjeev Anand has sourced this morning. It addresses our issue… This is pursuant to our submission of facts to JS Mr. Kesari this week and is from the section officer to director who will then put up the note to Mr. Kesari… I am now pushing that the recommendation for tapering linkage be issued at the earliest so that the matter can be taken up at the standing committee of the cabinet secretariat’s discussions next week as had been promised by the additional secretary Mr. Anil Swarup when he called me last week after our meeting.” A copy of this email dated 19.07.2013 is annexed as Annexure P87 (Pg ______________).
34. On 27.09.2013, Mr. Krishnamurti writes to the senior management of Essar: “Finally, MT has approved movement of rakes to Paradeep under export freight. Formal communication has been sent by fax to both SER and EcoR (copy attached strictly for your reference only and not to be shared…). We also made sure that enclosed copy was faxed to Sr. DCM, SER and ECoR from EDDTS’s office… Once again request you all not to share the attachment with any third party.” A copy of this email dated 27.09.2013 is annexed as Annexure P88 (Pg _______________).
35. Essar’s Col. Arafaat sources out the record of discussion of meeting held by the Principal Secretary to the PM and sends it to Mr. V Ramachandran, who replies: “Tks so much Col. Great job @ such a short notice.” A copy of this email exchange dated 14.01.2014 is annexed as Annexure P89 (Pg _____________) and a copy of the attached covering note of the meeting held in PMO (without the discussion record) is annexed as Annexure P90 (Pg _______________).
Planting stories in media
36. The writ petition had annexed a series of emails which showed as to how Essar was planting stories in the national media and bestowing favours on journalists. An email sent by Ms. Nancy Jain to Essar’s Mr. Parikshit Kaul on 06.01.2012 is illustrative of Essar planting stories in media, especially on 2G scam. CBI had chargesheeted Essar in the 2G case for obtaining license in the name of its front company Loop. The said email states that certain stories on Essar-Loop issue were “coordinated with the journalist” during December 2011. A copy of this email dated 06.01.2012 is annexed as Annexure P91 (Pg _____________). A story appeared in a prominent national weekly magazine (mentioned in Ms. Nancy Jain’s email) at the same time strongly criticising the CBI for chargesheeting Essar in the 2G case. The email and the contents of the story reveal that it was apparently a story planted by Essar. A copy of the said story published on 31.12.2011 is annexed as Annexure P92 (Pg _______________). It is to be noted that the same magazine held a festival in Goa in November 2011 where Essar was one of the biggest sponsor.
37. In light of the above, the petitioner submits that this Hon’ble Court may allow the writ petition and direct a thorough court-monitored investigation by an SIT or the CBI into the high level of political-bureaucratic-corporate nexus wherein corporates like Essar use their money power to change public policies, plant questions in Parliament, get access to internal government documents/cabinet papers, grant favours to politicians and bureaucrats for receiving benefits in return.
Verified at New Delhi on this day of May 2015 that the contents of the above affidavit are true and correct as per information received and no part of it is false and nothing material has been concealed therefrom, and is based on information, documents and electronic mails received from a reliable source whose identity needs to be protected.