Mrs Vadra is in trouble and she knows it

Mrs Vadra is in trouble and she knows it

Continuing his pressure on the Congress ruling family for a propensity to violate rules and norms with impunity, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy swiftly invoked the legal process against Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Vadra, regarded as the ‘last hope’ of the politically declining party, for possessing three DIN (Director Identification Numbers) in violation of the law. He demanded criminal prosecution of Priyanka Vadra under Section 200 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

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In a letter to the Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Subramanian Swamy pointed out that as per the Ministry’s own website, Priyanka Vadra had applied for and duly received three DIN numbers. These include 01038703, 01840144 and 02914391 – which is a violation of the Company Act and the Income Tax Act. Interestingly, Robert Vadra’s mother Maureen Vadra has also been allotted two DIN numbers – 01840680 and 01839769.

Section 155 of Companies Act 2013 prohibits any person have having more than one DIN. It says: No individual, who has already been allotted a Director Identification Number under section 154, shall apply for, obtain or possess another Director Identification Number.

The situation was the same under Section 266C of the old Companies Act 1956, and is thus an established legal principle, which fact would have been known to the family chartered accountants.

Section 159 of the Act posits six months imprisonment and a fine up to Rs 50,000, plus a fine of Rs 500 per day. It reads:

If any individual or director of a company, contravenes any of the provisions of section 152, section 155 and section 156, such individual or director of the company shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees and where the contravention is a continuing one, with a further fine which may extend to five hundred rupees for every day after the first during which the contravention continues.

Section 152 (3) of the Act specifies that no person can be appointed as a director of a company unless he has been allotted a Director Identification Number under section 154. Clause 4 asserts that a person appointed as a director must furnish his Director Identification Number (DIN) along with a declaration that he/she is not disqualified to become a director under this Act. Clause 5 states that no person can act as a director unless he gives his consent to hold the office as director and such consent has been filed with the Registrar within thirty days of appointment in a prescribed manner.

Section 155 explicitly states:

No individual, who has already been allotted a Director Identification Number under section 154, shall apply for, obtain or possess another Director Identification Number.

Section 156 reads:

Every existing director shall, within one month of the receipt of Director Identification Number from the Central Government, intimate his Director Identification Number to the company or all companies wherein he is a director.

It may be pointed out that Robert Vadra, a promoter director in 12 firms, has only one DIN number and his colleague, Amit Mehta, a director in seven firms, also has only one DIN number. Hence there must be some reason for Priyanka Gandhi seeking and receiving three DIN numbers, and an enquiry into the matter is clearly warranted. While it is fair to state that she would be unaware of the nitty gritty of the law, the excuse cannot extend to the corporate lawyers and chartered accountants who would have assisted her in the matter.

This is a direct embarrassment for the Gandhi family, which cannot be wished away easily. It comes amidst the hottest contested general election since 1977, and comes close on the heels of allegations of a nexus between six new firms floated by Robert Vadra in 2012 and the realty major DLF, after an executive of the Group, Amit Mehta, gave the corporate email id as his email id in the relevant papers submitted to the Government. DLF has since distanced itself from the employee, who is a Director in five of the new firms floated by Robert Vadra.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs lists Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as a Director, with Active status in her husband’s company Blue Breeze Trading Private Limited, incorporated in November 2007, though she is said to have resigned as per information with the RoC, after getting hints about approaching controversies. She was also a Director in Rahul Gandhi’s Backops Services Ltd, which was closed down following media attention into its projects and income.

An enquiry into Priyanka Vadra possessing three DIN numbers is serious because it raises the possibility of her involvement in businesses that do not reflect on the Ministry’s website.

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