New Delhi: “My Lord, this is the first case of the serious economic offence of the powerful media house of the country.The Munger Deputy Police Superintendent and the Police Superintendent in Bihar have submitted their Supervision Reports No.01 & 02 and have held that all allegations against the named accused persons including the petitioner,Shobhana Bhartia, in the Munger Kotwali P.S Case No.445/2011, are prime-facie true.The Hon’ble High Court at Patna has also rejected the petition of the petitioner and has directed the Munger police to complete the police investigation within three months from the receipt of the court order.Then,the petitioner, Shobhana Bhartia moved the Hon'ble Supreme Court.
Your Honour, I pray to reject the Special Leave Petition(Criminal) No. 1603 of 2013. That’s the end of my argument,” the senior lawyer of Munger(Bihar), ShriKrishna Prasad argued before the Bench of the Hon’ble Mr.Justice H.L.Dattu and the Hon”ble Mr.Justice S.A. Bobde in the Supreme Court on January 13,2014. Mr.Prasad concluded his argument the same day.
The senior lawyer of Munger(Bihar) ShriKrishna Prasad on January 13,2014, appeared in the Supreme Court and argued the case on behalf of the Respondent No.02, Mantoo Sharma in the Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 1603 of 2013.
The Respondent No.02,Mantoo Sharma of Munger(Bihar) was also present in person in the court-room in the Supreme Court while his lawyer, ShriKrishna Prasad was arguing his case. It is worth mentioning that the petitioner, Shobhana Bhartia, the Chairperson of M/S The Hindustan Times Limited(New Delhi) had filed the S.L.P (Criminal) N0.1603 of 2013, praying the court to quash the Munger Kotwali P.S Case No. 445 of 2011.
The content of the Munger Kotwali P.S Case No.445 of 2011:–On the basis of a Munger court complainant No.—993©/2011 of the complainant,Mantoo Sharma, S/O Late Ganesh Sharma, resident-Puraniganj,P.S- Kasim Bazar, Dist.-Munger, an F.I.R has been lodged against (1) the Principal accused Shobhana Bhartia (Chairperson, Hindustan Publication Group,( Hindustan Media Ventures Limited,Head Office:18-20, Kasturba Gandhi Marg,New Delhi,(2) Shashi Shekhar, Chief Editor, Hindustan Media Ventures Limited, Newspapers Group, New Delhi,(3) Aakku Srivastawa, Acting Editor, Patna Edition,(4) Binod Bandhu,Deputy Regional Editor, Bhagalpur edition and (5) Amit Chopra,Printer & Publisher,M/S Hindustan Media Ventures Limited,Lower Nathnagar Road, Parbatti,Bhagalpur.All of them have been accused of violating different provisions of the Press & Registration of Books Act, 1867, printing and publishing Bhagalpur and Munger editions of Dainik Hindustan ,using the wrong Registration No. and obtaining the government advertisements of the Union and the State governments in crores in the Advertisement Head by presenting the forged documents of registration.
The order of the Patna High Court:The Hon”ble Justice Anjana Prakash of the Patna High Court on Dec 17, 2012, has directed the Munger police investigating officer to expedite the investigation and conclude the same within a periof of three months from the date of the receipt of this order in the Criminal Miscellaneous No. 2951 of 2012.
Rs.200 crore Hindustan Advertisement Scam: Mantoo Sharma tells Supreme Court the main reason of economic offence on part of the petitioner, Shobhana Bhartia :In the world famous Rs.200 crore Dainik Hindustan Govt. Advertisement Scam, the Respondent No.02, Mr.Mantoo Sharma, in his counter-affidavit to the Supreme Court(New Delhi) in the Special Leave Petition(Criminal) No.1603 of 2013( filed by the petitioner, Shobhna Bhartia,the Chairperson of M/S The Hindustan Times Limited.M/S H.T.Media Limited.M/S Hindustan Media Ventures Limited(New Delhi), has tried his best to explain the main reason behind this economic offence on large scale for a decade, committed by the petitioner and her editors and publisher.
The content of Mr. Mantoo Sharma’s counter-affidavit in this matter,submitted to the Supreme Court(New Delhi) is given in the orginal form here so that the internet readers could know the depth of the economic offence of this powerful corporate print media house of India.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF ADVERTISEMENT POLICY OF UNION GOVERNMENT IN INDIA
The Union Government through the Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity(D.A.V.P),Information & Broadcasting Ministry,Government of India,New Delhi,approves "the Govt. Advertisement Rates" and releases "the Union Govt. advertisements" to newspapers in bulkevery year after fulfilling the certain conditions such as
(1) The Newspaper must have ''the Certificate of Registration'' and ''The Registration Number',
(2) The Evidence of uninterrupted publication of the newspaper for 36 months(three years) regularly,
(3) The Certificate of Audit Bureau of Circulation regarding the circulation of the newspaper,etc.
(4) There must be a minimum of seventy five thousand of circulation of the newspaper.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF ADVERTISEMENT POLICY OF BIHAR GOVERNMENT
The Bihar govt. also through the Information & Public Relation Department(IPRD), Patna, approves the "Govt. Advertisement Rate" and releases the "State Government Advertisements" in bulk to newspaperseither directly or through different district stategovt.offices every year in all districts of Bihar. The Information & Public RelationDepartment(IPRD),Patna,Bihar enlists the eligiblenewspapers for the "State Govt. Advertisements" onthefollowing terms and conditions such as
(1) the Newspaper must have "The Certificate of Registration" from the office of the Press Registrar,New Delhi,
(2) the number of sold Hindi daily newspaper must be a minimum of 45 thousand per day,
(3) the newspaper must have obtained " the Approved D.A.V.P Rate".etc.
DAINIK HINDUSTAN NOT ENTITLED TO PUBLISH ADVERTISEMENTS FROM AUGUST ,03, 2001 TO JUNE 30, 2011
Under the terms and conditions of the Advertisement Policies of the Union Govt. and the Bihar Govt. as well, the new Bhagalpur and Munger publications/editions of Dainik Hindustan were not entitled to get and publish the Government Advertisements from the Union Government and the Bihar Government as well as both publications/editions had completely failed to comply with the mandatory provisions of the Press & Registration of Books Act,1867 and the Registration of Newspapers(Central) Rules, 1956 and the statutory rules and regulations of Advertisement Policies.The statutory provisions ofAdvertisement Policies include obtaining "the Certificateof Registration" & "the Registration Number" from the Press Registrar,New Delhi.
EVEN AFTER REGISTRATION,BOTH PUBLICATIONS WERE NOT ENTITLED TO GET AND PUBLISH GOVERNMENT ADVERTISEMENTS FOR THREE YEARS
Under the terms and conditions of the Advertisement Policies of D.A.V.P(New Delhi) and I.P.R.D (Patna,Bihar),the new Bhagalpur and Munger publications/editions of Dainik Hindustan were not entitled to get the govt advertisements from the union govt. and the state govt. for three years from August, 03, 2001 to July 31,2004,even though they would have obtained 'the Certificates of Registration'' and ''the Registration Numbers'' because there must have been an uninterrupted publication of the daily Hindi newspaper forthree years regularly even after obtaining the "Certificate of Registration" and the "Registration Number" from the office of the Press Registrar,New Delhi as per terms and conditions of the Advertisment Policy of the D.A.V.P,New Delhi.
Thus, when the company completes three yours publication regularly even after obtaining “the Certificate of Registration” & “the Registration Number”, it will ,then, be eligible only to apply for “the DAVP Advertisement Rate” and “DAVP Advertisements.”
It is also crystal clear that the Bihar Govt will consider enlisting any Hindi newspaper for the release of the "State Govt. Advertisements" if that newspaper gets the "D.A.V.P Approved Advertisement Rate" from the DAVP, New Delhi as per one of the three main termsandconditions of the I.P.R.D,Patna,Bihar .
MAIN REASON BEHIND THE ECONOMIC OFFENCE
To compensate the possible gross loss of income in the head of the publication of the advertisements of the union government and the Bihar government in the wake of a new publication/edition, the publisher/owner as well as the editors fraudulently induced the officials of the D.A.V.P(New Delhi) and I.P.R.D(Patna,Bihar) to deliver the advertisements of the union government and the Bihar govt. respectively to the illegal and unauthorised Bhagalpur and Munger publications of Dainik Hindustan for wrongful gain from August, 03 ,2001 to June 30, 2011 by wrongly presenting the Bhagalpur and Munger publications/editions as "Registered Newspapers" before the Govts. in Delhi and Patna. The Bhagalpur and Munger publications of Dainik Hindustan went into circulation/publication among readers and advertisers without the "Certificates of Registration'' and ''Registration Numbers''.But to cheat the officials ofD.A.V.P(New Delhi),I.P.R.D(Patna,Bihar) and private advertisers,too,the publishr/owner and the editors of Dainik Hindustan of Bhagalpur and Munger editions continued printing on the "Print-line" on the last page of the newspaper the "Registration No.44348/1986" from August 03,2001 to June 30,2011, thus falsely and dishonestly presenting the newspaper to be "a lawfully registered newspaper".In reality, the truth is that the "printed Registration No.44348/1986" has been officially allocated to the Patna publication/edition of Dainik Hindustan from the office of the Press Registrar,New Delhi in 1986,some 15 years ago before the start of the new printing and publications of Bhagalpur and Munger editions of Dainik Hindustan in the year 2001 last. The documentary evidences of forgery and cheatings in the printing of the Patna Publication Registration No.44348/1986 on the "Print-line of theBhagalpur and Munger publications/editons of Dainik Hindustan by such a powerful media house is a serious economic offence which has never been heard in thepast hundred years in the world. "Thus,the company plundered the government exchequer upto about two hundred crores during the period.
Writer ShriKrishna Prasad is Sr. Advocate from Munger(Bihar). He can be contacted @ 09470400813