Is this another case of Bad Optics for India’s top law officer Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi? His old association with Rajeev Agarwal, a person jailed for smuggling is haunting him, as he maintained relations with him, even after he became the AG on June 12, 2014.
As per the flight manifest sourced by PGurus, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi traveled with Rajeev Agarwal on December 20, 2014 in Emirates flight (EK 511) from Delhi to Dubai. According to eyewitnesses, Delhi’s Customs Commissioner and top officials escorted the Attorney General and his controversial friend cum client caught for smuggling from Airport entrance to Aircraft! Rohatgi’s seat number was 2E and Agarwal was in the adjacent seat 2F.
This is the concerned portion of the seven page flight manifest and the entire manifest is reproduced at the end of the article.
Who is Rajeev Agarwal? This man in his mid-40s was engaged in smuggling in Mumbai till mid-2000s. In early 2000 he was caught and jailed for a few months by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) for importing luxury cars. He was also booked for smuggling watches and many other items by the DRI and Customs. The chargesheet filed against Rajeev Agarwal for the violation and tax evasion in import of cars is still pending before the trial court in Mumbai. In some smuggling cases, Agarwals escaped from the adjudicating forums also.
Meanwhile Rajeev and brother Sanjay Agarwal started a law firm to deal with customs related cases. The firm was registered as a company in March 2005 with an apt name – Prompt Legal Solutions Private Limited. They started getting all smuggling cases and fielded country’s top lawyers to represent them in several forums including High Courts and Supreme Courts. Who was their go-to lawyer? Mukul Rohatgi. Om Prakash v/s Union of India is one such case related to smuggling dealt by Agarwals’ legal firm in which Rohatgi appeared in the Supreme Court. They tasted success in the judgment delivered by the then Chief Justice Altamas Kabir in September, 2011. Justice Kabir even observed during the arguments that smugglers and tax evaders should not be treated like terrorists and that bail conditions should be liberal!
Agarwals’ law firm became a success in getting bails, reduction of penalties and even let offs in almost all of the smuggling and tax evasion cases. From 2005 onwards, Agarwal brothers were seen frequently in Finance Ministry’s Headquarters at North Block.
Intelligence Bureau and Enforcement Directorate have on several times given the list of more than 40 real estate transactions done by the Agarwal brothers in Dubai alone to their bosses. But due to their clout, no action has been taken so far.
- Is it ethical for Attorney General Rohatgi to entertain his old clients even after he became Government’s top lawyer? Clearly as an Advocate he can work with anyone. But should he not maintain the high standards the post of Attorney General of India deserves?
- Should he travel with persons caught in smuggling and other cases?
- How many times has Rohatgi traveled with Agarwal brothers to Dubai who are having more than 40 real estate transaction for the past decade?
- Will the government order a probe in this regard about Attorney General’s “friendships” with persons of ill repute?
Earlier too PGurus have reported about his son appearing for the accused in the Rs.45000 crores ($5.95 billion) Pearl Chit Fund scam. It is high time the Government clarified its stand on such instances. If India is going to attract global investments, it has to be seen as a transparent country where the law of the land not only works, but works well.
Here is a copy of the complete flight manifest:
1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 USD = 67.15 Rupees.
2. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
3. The first revision of the post incorrectly named the airline as Etihad. Corrected.
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