TN mining baron jailed for bribing official
A special CBI court in Delhi on Tuesday sentenced a sand mining baron from Tamil Nadu, S Vaikundarajan, to three years in jail and a fine of ₹5 lakh for bribing an environment ministry scientist to get approval for a special economic zone (SEZ) in Tamil Nadu in 2016. Neeraj Khatri, a scientist dealing with files related to terms of reference for environmental approvals in the ministry, was sentenced to five years in jail and fine of ₹4 lakh for accepting a bribe of up to ₹7 lakh, the court order said.
An associate of Vaikundarajan, 65, Subbalakshmi, was also convicted for arranging the deal between Khatri and the businessman. A fine of ₹10 lakh was also imposed on Vaikundarajan’s company, VV Minerals, for trying to fraudulently get approval for the terms of reference, which are considered in-principle approval for a project. The three were convicted on Monday and their sentences were pronounced on Tuesday. VV Minerals, the country’s biggest sand mining company, had applied for environmental clearance for an SEZ in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli in 2012.
In its charge-sheet, the CBI said it found that Khatri, then a deputy director (Scientist-C) in the environment ministry, had accepted a demand draft of ₹4.13 lakh dated July 3, 2013 in favour of VIT University (Vellore) to get his son admitted in a B.Tech course there. The money was given at the behest of Vaikundarajan, the CBI said. The CBI also said the air tickets for Khatri and his son from Delhi to Chennai and back were bought by Subbalakshmi
In return, Khatri took charge of the file even though it should have been considered by another division in the environment ministry.
“The matter of environment clearance is a sensitive subject matter…the purpose is to save and protect the environment in order to protect public health...the accused, by indulging in an act of receiving payment (by way of demand draft for admission of his son), allowed this very purpose to be compromised,” CBI special judge Nirja Bhatia said in her order on Tuesday.
On Vaikundarajan, the court said,“He indulged in all sorts of manipulations, which he made in his records including personal records and that of the company of which he is the managing partner and as well outside by showing disregard in handing over the application directly to Neeraj Khatri, by his side-stepping the established procedure,” the court said.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- According to Indian agencies, the JeI has maintained that J&K is a disputed territory.
- Interestingly, the election of the six YSRC members comes at a time when a resolution adopted by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in the state assembly in January 2020, seeking abolition of the legislative council, is still pending with the Union home ministry.
- When the matter came up before a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy on Friday, the bench adjourned it to April 7 as it had no time for a full fledged hearing.
- Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also held a review meeting on Friday to discuss with the divisional commissioners the steps being taken to contain the spread of the infection.
- There is a cost difference of about 25-30 per cent in containers made in India and abroad.
- After an agreement last month on pulling back frontline troops along with armoured vehicles and artillery from strategic heights around Pangong Lake, the two sides have been unable to make progress on disengagement at other friction points such as Depsang, Hot Springs and Gogra.
- According to state government figures, between 2011 and 2019, at least 90 elephants have fallen prey to electrocution.
- Australian PM Scott Morrison said the Quad Summit was one of the first things he and US president Joe Biden had discussed.
- The bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy issued notice to Sivasankar on ED’s plea but refused to stay the HC order. The bench enquired from the counsel for Sivasankar if he was already out of jail.