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Thursday, September 10, 1998
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Bezbaruah back as ED chief

NEW DELHI, Sept 9 (PTI, UNI) — The Union Government, buckling under pressure of criticism from the Supreme Court, today revoked the transfer of M.K. Bezbaruah to the Delhi Government and reinstated him as Director Enforcement.

As the apex court began hearing on the controversial transfer, Solicitor-General Santosh Hegde informed the three-judge Bench headed by Mr Justice S.P. Bharucha that the government was willing to revoke the transfer of Mr Bezbaruah to disprove any impression that it was done with an ulterior motive.

However, the Bench said that the "willingness was unacceptable" as the August 13 order repatriating Mr Bezbaruah to Delhi Government smacked of "arbitrariness".

The Solicitor-General then made a written statement that "the Union of India shall revoke the August 13 order transferring Mr Bezbaruah (from the Enforcement Directorate to the Delhi Government as Principal Secretary and Commissioner Transport) with immediate effect and post him as Enforcement Director."

Following Solicitor’s statement, the Bench comprising Mr Justice Bharucha, Mr Justice G.T. Nanavati and Mr Justice B.N. Kirpal ordered, "We direct the Union of India to give effect forthwith to the statement."

Earlier, Mr Hegde read out para five of the written submission which said: "Despite the position in law as explained earlier and to establish the bona fides that the order of transfer was not made with an ulterior motive, the Union of India is willing to take back Mr Bezbaruah as Director, Enforcement Directorate.’’

"His continuance, transfer or replacement shall be decided by the select committee,’’ it said.

"This is not enough. The impugned order must be revoked with immediate effect and he should be reinstated as Enforcement Director,’’ Mr Justice Bharucha observed.

Amicus curiae Anil Divan was also of the view that there should be no ambiguity in the statement made before the court by the Union Government not to enforce it in letter and spirit.

The court asked Mr Hegde either to amend para five of the written submission suitably or else it would make necessary changes in this regard.

In view of the court’s observation, Mr Hegde amended para five of the submission in three attempts which was ultimately incorporated by the court in its final order.

The order said: "The continuance of Mr Bezbaruah as Director of the Enforcement Directorate, his transfer or replacement, will be decided by the select committee in accordance with law. Amicus curiae Anil Divan does not accept the position as stated in paragraph one to four of the written submission made by the Union of India.’’

"In view of this categorical statement in paragraph five of the said written submission, we do not go into the correctness of what is stated in paras one to four thereof and shall not be taken to have endorsed or approved the correctness of the same.’’

"In view of the statement in para five of the said written submission, no order of the court is called for except that we direct the Union of India to give effect forthwith to the statement.’’

The issue of the controversial transfer of Mr Bezbaruah was raised by Mr Divan during the proceedings in the multi-crore Indian Bank scam.

During yesterday’s hearing, the judges had expressed the court’s "utter dissatisfaction’’ with the government affidavit justifying Mr Bezbaruah’s transfer.

The government decision to shift Mr Bezbaruah had come under severe attack from opposition parties, including the CPM, the Janata Dal and the DMK and even from an ally of the BJP-led government — the Trinamool Congress.

AIADMK chief Jayalalitha on August 16 had demanded the reinstatement of Mr Bezbaruah as Enforcement Director and alleged that "persons very close" to Prime Minister had been paid "hefty bribes" by a media baron for his transfer.

Ms Jayalalitha contended that the transfers, including that of finance secretary Montek Singh Ahluwalia, were made without the consent of Minister of State for Finance Kadambur M.R. Janarthanan, her party nominee in the ministry.

The government had denied Ms Jayalalitha’s allegations as "unfortunate and baseless’’ and said that administrative reshuffle in the government was a normal exercise.back


PM orders probe
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Sep 9 — The Prime Minister, Mr A.B. Vajpayee, has ordered an inquiry into the lapses committed in the government affidavit justifying the transfer of Mr M.K.Bezbaruah from the Enforcement Directorate which was termed by the Supreme Court as "misleading".

Official sources said the Prime Minister has asked the Attorney General to look into the circumstances under which the affidavit was prepared and fix responsibility on the official or officials who were associated with it. "Several heads will roll after the inquiry" the sources said.

The sources said the Prime Minister was of the opinion that the affidavit contained a number of errors and he wanted the inquiry to find out whether they were committed deliberately or inadvertently.

Meanwhile, Mr Bezbaruah, who has been reinstated as the Director Enforcement, declined to comment on the order saying he must see the Supreme Court orders as well as that of the government before reacting.back

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