New Delhi: While election commissioner Ashok Lavasa became the anti-Narendra Modi camp’s favourite by being self-righteous on the Model Code of Conduct and criticising clean chits given to the PM and BJP chief Amit Shah, his own house may not be in order. His wife Novel Lavasa reportedly became the director in not one but 14 companies connected with ministries in which he was officially posted.

According to news website PGurus, Novel Lavasa became director of Balrampur Chni Mills and Omax Autos, which have business interests in the power sector in 2015 while Ashok Lavasa was a secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forest. Incidentally, before his assignment in MoEF, he was posted in the ministry of power and renewable energy. Further, Novel Lavasa got a position on the boards of 10 companies in 2016 when Ashok Lavasa became secretary in the finance ministry. Ashok Lavasa’s stint in finance ministry stretched between April 2016 to October 2017.

MyNation tried to get in touch with Ashok Lavasa on his phone for a response, but could not get one. We have left messages on his phone as well. The story will be updated when his response comes in.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi, Chidambaram attack EVM, and EC, announce the loser 

The wife’s tale

Lavasa’s wife became the director of these 10 companies on the same date, September 14, 2016. Of these 10, Novel Lavasa became director in four companies of the Walwhan Group of Industries associated with renewable power and four of the Welspun group also into renewable energy. 

All these companies, including Powerlinks Transmission Limited, Dugar Hydropower Limited and Dreisatz Mysolar 24 Private Limited, have interests in either power or renewable energy. 

Of these 10 companies, her directorship ended in six of these on the same date, July 3, 2018.

According to sources, the Lavasas also received Rs 29,45,000 as rent between 2008 and 2013 from Vibrant Trade Group which is linked to another company into the power sector, Multiplex Solar Power Private Limited. 

According to news reports in all Novel Lavasa adorned the Board of these companies: Balrampur Chini Mills Limited, Welspun Solar Tech Private Limited, Welspun Solar Punjab Private Limited, Balrampur Chini Mills Limited, Welspun Urja Gujarat Private Limited, Omax Autos Limited, Powerlinks Transmission Limited, Welspun Energy Rajastan Private Limited, Dugar Hydro Power Limited, Dreisatz Mysolar 24 Pvt Limited, Walwhan Wind RJ Ltd, Mi Mysolar 24 Pvt Limited, Walwhan Urja Anjar Limited, Walwhan Solar TN Limited, Walwhan Solar PB Limited.

Daughter in CWG muddle

The high-level committee (HLC) constituted in 2010 under VK Shunglu to delve into irregularities during the Commonwealth Games mentioned Lavasa's daughter too as a suspect appointment as an assistant project officer (APO) and later promoted to project officer. 

Shuglu committee's 5th of the six reports, accessed by MyNation, also raises questions about Lavasa's son Abir Lavasa as assistant project officer. "It is not clear from the above how a committee formed to recruit directors and above ended up evaluating the recruitment of an APO. Further, it is also evident why this candidate was not evaluated against other APO candidates. It may be mentioned that as set out in paragraph 1.4.2, Ms Avny Lavasa was related to an "influential person" outside the OC [organising committee] and hence the possibility that documents were created to provide legitimacy to the recruitment, cannot be excluded," the report observed. 

Currently, Avny Lavasa is serving as an IAS officer in Jammu and Kashmir.

Chidambaram Link

A 1980-batch IAS officer of the Haryana cadre, Lavasa moved to Centre in 2009 as Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry while P Chidambaram was the minister in charge of home affairs. Chidambaram also launched Ashok Lavasa's book 'An Uncivil Servant' in 2010 as well as a photo-exhibition of his wife and him. 

While it is said that he was close to Chidambaram, Lavasa finally retired as finance secretary in 2017 when the Modi government was in power. He was a special secretary in the power and civil aviation ministries. Lavasa is expected to become the next Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) after Sunil Arora makes way in 2021. Arora himself was embroiled in controversy as PGurus alleged that he was involved in the Niira Radi tapes case.