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All About Sahara-Birla Case Which Rahul was Talking About

Rahul Gandhi (File image)

Rahul Gandhi (File image)

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday accused Narendra Modi of taking kickbacks from two business groups when he was Gujarat chief minister, citing records from a case which has not made much headway in the Supreme Court.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday accused Narendra Modi of taking kickbacks from two business groups when he was Gujarat chief minister, citing records from a case which has not made much headway in the Supreme Court.

A case pertaining to the Sahara and Birla diaries filed by Prashant Bhushan is already pending before the Supreme Court seeking a SIT probe into the evidence gathered against the two corporate groups regarding “bribing of politicians”.

The bench hearing the petition had said that it would not order an inquiry on the basis of Income Tax papers relating to raids at Aditya Birla Group and Sahara companies unless there was credible material to suggest illegal payoffs.

Here is a timeline of the case and Supreme Court's observation on the same.

The case timeline:

OCT 15, 2013: During investigation into coal block allocations to Aditya Birla group’s Hindalco Industries, the CBI had conducted simultaneous raids on its premises in New Delhi, Mumbai, Secunderabad and Bhubaneswar on October 15, 2013. Prashant Bhushan in his complaint said,“The documents seized by the CBI in its search operation in Mumbai reportedly revealed massive bribery of politicians and officials of various ministries by the Aditya Birla group over several years."

NOV 22, 2014: Documents allegedly recovered from the Sahara premises during a raid on November 22, 2014 by the Income Tax Department show payments to several politicians, including some Chief Ministers and MPs from various political parties, running into crores, the complaint has alleged.

NOV 15, 2016: NGO Common Cause moves Supreme Court for SIT probe into raids on Aditya Birla, Sahara Groups.

NOV 17, 2016: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that Rs 65.1 crore was paid as bribe to ‘Gujarat CM’ and ‘Ahmedabad Modiji’ by two private companies, the Aditya Birla group and the Sahara group.

NOV 22, 2016: SC agreed to an urgent hearing of a plea seeking a direction to the CBI, the CBDT and the CVC to produce before the apex court the entire evidence and material recovered in raids conducted on Sahara and Aditya Birla groups.

NOV 25, 2015: The SC bench of Justices J.S. Khehar and Arun Mishra refused to order probe into ‘Sahara-Birla papers’ saying the entries did not “arouse its conscience” enough to order a probe.

DEC 16, 2016: Prashant Bhushan asked Justice J.S. Khehar, next in line to be CJI, to recuse from hearing the Birla-Sahara pay-offs case alleging kickbacks received by PM Modi when he was Gujarat Chief Minister. Mr. Bhushan indicated that Justice Khehar should withdraw as his “file for elevation is pending with the PM”. The Bench of Justices JS Khehar and Arun Mishra termed it “unfair” as this demand was never made on previous two occasions when the case was heard.

SC’S OBSERVATION WHILE HEARING A PETITION BY THE NGO 'COMMON CAUSE'

· “Who has made these entries? Whose computer was this? Tomorrow, if a man makes entries alleging 100 people have been paid money, should we be initiating inquiry against all of them?”

· “If we accept what you (Prashant Bhushan) say, then somebody can tomorrow make an entry that I sent PM this much of money… see how far-reaching this could be.

· “We are not shying away from taking action against anybody but you must have something, even prima facie, to show wrongdoing. We cannot initiate proceedings only because you name a big man. There has to be something.”

· “If any suspicion arouses our conscience, it is a good suspicion but your suspicion does not do it… this is only insinuation. Show us better material because we are not satisfied at all with this. It is zero for us.”

· “We can’t order investigation only because you name a big person”

Bench of Justices J S Khehar and Arun Mishra on Nov 25, 2016
first published:December 21, 2016, 17:46 IST