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Supreme Court-appointed expert committee will be ‘clean chit’ panel, JPC must to probe all aspects of Adani issue: Congress

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Wednesday claimed that the Supreme Court-appointed expert committee lacks jurisdiction to probe all aspects of the Adani issue and would only be a ”clean chit” panel for the government, asserting that only a JPC investigation could bring out the truth in the matter.

Addressing a press conference as the party’s total questions asked under its ‘Hum Adani Ke Hain Kaun’ initiative reached the 100-mark, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Adani issue is ”non-negotiable”.

The Congress has been persistent in its attack on the government weeks after Adani Group stocks took a beating on the bourses after US-based short seller Hindenburg Research made a litany of allegations, including fraudulent transactions and share-price manipulation.

The Gautam Adani-led group has dismissed the charges as lies, saying it complies with all laws and disclosure requirements.

Ramesh said the party has posed 99 questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi since February 5 in connection with the Adani issue and concludes the series with a final question, asking whether he will act in the national interest using the vast army of investigative agencies.

The Supreme Court-appointed expert committee appointed on March 2, unfortunately, lacks formal jurisdiction over these agencies, he claimed.

”You have never hesitated to deploy them against the opposition, civil society and independent businesses. We now appeal to you, with some irony, to use them as they are intended, to investigate the most brazen case of corruption and cronyism the country has witnessed since 1947,” Ramesh alleged, attacking the prime minister.

”While we pray that the Supreme Court’s Expert Committee produces a fair and thorough investigation of the ‘Adani Scam’, we note that it lacks jurisdiction over the investigative agencies mentioned above and that its scope does not include examining cronyism and your political interference in governance aimed at enriching your friends,” he said.

The answer is clearly a JPC to examine all relevant aspects of this scam, as both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led governments have in the past agreed to investigate major cases of stock market manipulation, he asserted.

Ramesh claimed that the committee formed by the Supreme Court is a panel centred around the Adani Group, headed by Gautam Adani, and the questions that the Congress has been asking are to the prime minister and the government.

”Such questions will not be asked by the Supreme Court committee, they will not dare to consider these questions. They can be raised only through a JPC. The JPC will have a BJP person as the head as they have the majority but despite that, the Opposition will have a chance to raise their issues, answers will come from the government and all this will go on record,” he said.

Ramesh said a JPC was formed in 1992 to look into the Harshad Mehta scam when the Congress government was in power and again in 2001 during the Vajpayee government’s tenure to look into the Ketan Parekh scam.

The Adani issue is related to the policies and intention of the government and that is why we are asking these questions and asking the prime minister to break his silence on the issue, Ramesh said.

”This is the basic difference between the Supreme Court-appointed panel and a JPC. The Supreme Court-appointed panel will not ask questions of the government, it will give a clean chit to it. This is just an effort to exonerate the prime minister and the government. This would be a clean chit committee for the government,” he said.

Addressing the presser along with Ramesh, Congress leader Amitabh Dubey said the accusation of ”brazen stock manipulation” via ”a vast labyrinth of offshore shell entities” falls directly under the ambit of the securities regulator SEBI.

”SEBI has previously investigated the Adani Group, but it failed to protect investors as the group’s market capitalisation unnaturally soared 1,000 per cent in three years.

”Ironically, SEBI had previously found that entities associated with notorious stock manipulator Ketan Parekh had indulged in ‘manipulative activities such as synchronised trading/circular trading and creation of artificial volume to influence the price in the scrip of Adani’ between 1999 and 2001,” he said.

”Yet it was asleep at the wheel during an even more egregious scam in recent years,” he alleged.

Dubey said the Enforcement Directorate, under the Ministry of Finance, is meant to investigate money laundering, foreign exchange violations and economic fugitives.

”It has instead become your chosen tool of political intimidation, with a pathetic case disposal rate of 0.42 per cent. You have also effectively used it to enrich your cronies e.g. using ED raids to ‘encourage’ the previous owner of Mumbai airport to sell it to the Adanis.

”However we pray that you will also use the ED as originally intended and investigate the Adani Group’s alleged money laundering and round-tripping,” he said attacking the government.

Dubey also called on agencies such as the Serious Fraud Investigation Office, Central Bureau of Investigation and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence to take action on the Adani issue.

Source: Press Trust of India

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