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FM from UPA era sought Essar favours, SC told

A fresh bunch of Essar group’s internal email leaks filed in the Supreme Court has roped in a top-ranking politician who as finance minister under the UPA sought and got one Santosh Reddy appointed in the group while agreeing to advance the GoM on the Mahan coal block.

The corporate group had a major stake in Mahan coal block and was pursuing its clearances. A group of ministers (GoM) was constituted by the UPA government for review of its clearances. PIL petitioner ‘CPIL’ in its fresh affidavit detailed an internal mail of the group which talked of a request being sent to the then finance minister’s private secretary for fixing a date for the GoM and the PS agreeing for it.

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CPIL’s affidavit annexed an Essar group email which said, “I met FM again and requested him to give an early date for GoM on Mahan… he has given me a resume of Santosh Reddy to absorb him suitably in the group. He has shown his annoyance that Reddy has not been recruited so far.”

The NGO said Reddy was given an offer letter the next day with an annual salary of Rs 12 lakh and asking him to join the same week. It also gave an instance of the then petroleum minister’s private secretary asking the group in the latter part of UPA-2 to give an appointment to his (PS’s) nephew.

The internal emails show that the corporate group had used money power to cultivate influence with a large number of politicians and bureaucrats across the country. “All these show an unhealthy and unethical nexus between public servants and corporate interests,” the petitioner said.

To TOI’s query, the Essar group spokesperson said, “We understand that today one Ms Kamini Jaiswal has filed an additional affidavit in the public interest litigation pending in the Hon’ble Supreme Court raising directly and substantially the same questions as raised by you in your email for our response.

“The questions are thus, sub-judice and we therefore refrain from giving our response to them. Nothing stated by us herein should, however, be construed as an admission of all or any of your allegations made in your email. We reiterate and say that Essar is a responsible corporate and we adhere to the highest standards of governance and ethics.”

The NGO also annexed a series of emails to show that the corporate group had “easy access to government deliberations” on important policy decisions.

The petitioner requested a court-monitored investigation by a special investigation team (SIT) or the CBI into the high level of political-bureaucratic-corporate nexus wherein corporate groups use their money power to change public policies, plant questions in Parliament, get access to internal government documents, Cabinet papers and grant favours to politicians and bureaucrats for receiving benefits in return.


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