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Centre Asks 11 PSUs to Check If EC Ashok Lavasa Used ‘Undue Influence’ While in Power Ministry

Centre Asks 11 PSUs to Check If EC Ashok Lavasa Used ‘Undue Influence’ While in Power Ministry

Along with a confidential letter, the power ministry has annexed 14 companies in which Lavasa’s wife Novel had served as director, the Indian Express reported.

New Delhi: The central government has reportedly asked 11 public sector undertakings to verify whether Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa had exercised “undue influence” during his tenure in the power ministry from 2009 to 2013. A confidential communication was issued to the chief vigilance officers of the PSUs “with the approval” of the power secretary, the Indian Express reported.

“It has been alleged that Shri Ashok Lavasa, IAS during his tenure in the Ministry of Power from September 2009 to December 2013 as JS/Additional Secretary/Special Secretary used his official position to exercise undue influence to benefit few companies/associate companies,” the letter, dated August 29, said to the PSUs.

When asked about the letter issued by the power secretary, Lavasa told the newspaper he was not aware of anything of this kind and would not like to comment. He is second in seniority to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.

He had made headlines during the Lok Sabha elections in May as he had disagreed with the majority view within the Election Commission giving clean chits to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah on five complaints of violation of the model code of conduct.

The PSUs who have been asked to verify details include the National Thermal Power Corporation, NHPC Limited, or the erstwhile National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, the Power Finance Corporation and the REC Limited, which was formerly the Rural Electrification Corporation.

Along with the letter, the power ministry has also annexed 14 companies in which Lavasa’s wife Novel Lavasa had served as director. It has also attached a list of projects in which either Lavasa or his wife were involved, the Indian Express said.

Earlier in September, the Income Tax department had issued notices to three members of the Lavasa family, including to the Election Commissioner’s wife Novel, for alleged non-declaration of income and disproportionate assets.

The notice to Novel Lavasa pertained to her income as independent director of multiple companies. Lavasa's wife, according to sources, had become an independent director in companies after the Election Commissioner took charge as secretary of government of India. She is a former banker, who resigned from SBI around 2005.